I was just mulling over how I might be more “successful” the other day when I realised that that thought held one very fundamental problem: what did “success” mean to me?
Lately, I’ve been going around sites like Mininova and The Pirate Bay looking for torrents on “success” and “self-improvement”. I like the success genre, and I enjoy reading about how happy I could potentially be. In fact, just thinking about this potential happiness makes me happy.
The success genre of books, once you read enough, is very repetitive:
- “We use little of our full potential.” (Open up our possibilities.)
- “You are special, too.” (Build our self-esteem.)
- “Find your purpose/values.” (Discover what really matters to you.)
- “Set your goals.” (Set financial, physical, spiritual, relationship and personal goals.)
- “Every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” (Break up your goals into smaller goals.)
- “Review your goals.” (Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.)
- “Reward yourself for the achievement of goals.” (Positive reinforcement will make your goal-achievement become a habit.)
Of course, there are variants of this theme, but basically this would be it. I’ve always had trouble with the step where we define what our values are, and specifically what our purpose in life is.
When thinking about “what really matters”, I find that I hardly ever am able to comfortably say “this is what really matters to me”. I’ve always felt that these things (our values, life-purpose), though supposedly never-changing, do; they may not change in terms of “yes, I value this” and “no, I do not value this”, but rather in terms of how strongly I value it.
So integrity may in some (most) circumstances be important to me, but in certain circumstances other values can be more important.
Likewise with that strange concept called “purpose” — how does one even find out such a thing? Most authors say everybody’s purpose is different, and that the only way to find out what your purpose is is to think through it, deliberate, and sometimes look to the past or future to find clues to what it may be. That’s easy for them to say. As much as I have tried, that single purpose eludes me. I’ve had short-term “purposes”, but never a long-standing, single “purpose” I could base the rest of my life on.
I think that’s my main problem with “success” — I simply don’t know what it means to me. All my definitions of success, on further introspection, feel derived from what others have wrote or thought about. Sure, as a general abstract notion of success, I seek it; I want it; I covet it.
Give me all the success ‘ya got and I’d think I’d happy! Ha. Bollocks!
Success is devoid of meaning if you don’t know what success means to you.
I love to read and write. Professionally, data science, technology, and sales ops are my thing. In my non-professional life, I aspire quite simply to be a good person, and encourage others to do the same. For those who care, I test as INFJ/INTJ (55/45?) in the MBTI.