Today more than ever there seems to be an abundance of everything, so it is no surprise that many measure success by how much we have rather than what we have accomplished. I don’t believe there is anywhere we turn where some marketer isn’t trying to sell us a product or service to make us massively successful, normally accompanied by a huge gain in wealth.
But does anybody really know what success looks like? I cannot say I gave it much thought as that job was done for me by my teachers and parents, the media and marketers. They knew what my success should look like – the same as their definition of success.
When you re-evaluate your life and end up in a position where you are truly not happy, success might not be a word you would use very often, but it is certainly something you are judging yourself against.
Here’s the problem.
Everybody is in a different place. To one person getting out of bed and facing another day is a success, but to a different person earning $1 million in a single month is their definition of success. But neither of those people is me! Who are they to tell me what I should define to myself as a successful life, let alone a successful day?
In the weeks after breaking my neck, lying in a hospital bed flat on my back with 15lbs of weight attached to the top of my head, unable to communicate verbally as I had a tube in my throat to assist with my breathing, I felt like I’d achieved something just when I was able to cough and clear my lungs with the help of a couple of physiotherapists. Sometimes this would take over 30 minutes, but it gave me the ability to relax for a couple hours, which is quite a gift when you spend long hours coughing unsuccessfully because you do not have strong enough chest muscles to clear your own lungs!
As the weeks went by, my definition of success changed; from being fed a complete meal without feeling sick, to sleeping for a complete turn cycle (4 hours).
I think you’ll agree that at the time, being able to breathe comfortably, get enough sleep and keep my dinner down was an important success. But when we subconsciously deliberate over what success looks like, we never seem to consider the little things like that.
Nobody can determine what success or happiness is for you, because you cannot look to the outside world and compare your journey to somebody else’s.
Your own success is relative to where you are and what you need to achieve, it is about what you need to do today, so that when you put your head on the pillow tonight you are able to tell yourself ‘I did my best, today I was a success’.
We often dismiss doing the little things because we cannot see where they fit into the bigger picture. We don’t see how to get from where we are to our ultimate destination, or even worse we don’t believe we are capable.
It is exactly these little things that stack up to a whole lot of success, because success isn’t a fixed amount of anything. It is not the $10 million, custom-built house or the expensive sports car.
I have come a long way since those days in hospital, and the journey has been far from a steady road. The only things that have got me to where I am today are the little things, all those little tasks that I didn’t think I was capable of doing until I was forced to do so.
You’ve already become somebody, you are already a success. You have already learned many things, felt many things and proved wrong your own doubts many times over.
Start today, realise you are already a success and start to believe in yourself.
Then, you can stop beating yourself up and comparing your success to others and finally continue the journey to become who you believe you are on the inside.
Go to bed tonight and tell yourself ‘today, I did my best, today I was a success’.