How To Be a Success In Everything You Do
Photo credit: geeo123
“I want to define success by redefining it. For me it isn’t that solely mythical definition – glamour, allure, power of wealth, and the privilege from care. Any definition of success should be personal because it’s so transitory. It’s about shaping my own destiny.” -Anita Roddick
Success means many things to many people. Let me tell you what it meant to me and how I got it completely wrong.
My idea of success meant a full bank account, a great house, an awesome car, a beautiful/charming/smart partner, the best clothes, the latest gadgets and the respect and admiration of others. Essentially, the American Dream.
I’d wager that your definition is similar.
It turns out that it’s more like a nightmare. I had all those things, and it was the most miserable time of my life. If you’d asked me how I felt, I would’ve lied and said, “Great!” But I was rotting on the inside. I checked off everything on that list and came to the realization that I’d been duped.
I was working a job I didn’t like, to buy things I didn’t need, to impress people I didn’t know. And all I had to show for it was insomnia, depression, and a bunch of stupid gadgets. For me, success and happiness were mutually exclusive. If you had one, you had the other. As I wrote about before, happiness is not exclusive to anything but itself.
In desiring to have my definition of success, I was trying to quench my thirst with saltwater. No matter how much I drank, I’d always be thirsty. It was a never ending cycle. Then, after two weeks of pure hell, I decided to stop drinking the poison.
I was given a work project that required me to go over every company file from the last 10 years - without any outside help. It was me and a few hundred thousand documents that I had to go through - one by one. If this wasn’t finished within two weeks, I’d be fired. Mind you, I still had to run the day-to-day operations for 6 companies during “normal business hours”. At my company, that was 9am to 10pm. It was a suicide mission.
In hindsight, they gave me this task hoping I’d quit so they wouldn’t have to pay a severance or unemployment. But I’m a stubborn S.O.B. with a serious addiction to doing the impossible. So I took it as one of two ways: If this was designed to make me quit, then f@*$ them. They’ll have to drag me out of this place. Or the inverse - they trusted me so much that I was given this task because only I could do it. I hoped for the latter, but secretly knew it was the former.
I spent two straight weeks living in my office, literally. I slept, ate, showered and did everything there for 14 straight days. I didn’t even leave the office once, not on weekends or at night. And guess what? I actually finished it, to my own amazement. The morning it was due, I filed the last piece of paper on my way to the meeting to discuss the deadline.
In that meeting I was told that I did a great job, and now here was a whole list of other suicide missions to accomplish. Then, it clicked. I was now trading my time on this earth for things that didn’t make this time any better. In fact, they made it worse. They were weights rather than wings. How could I get out of this?
And as I walked back to my office, it hit me: Success is not a standard, one-size-fits-all definition. It’s a set of things that make you feel a certain way - good.
I thought, “What if I redefined success to be things that make me feel good and happy, instead?” I sat down at my desk and wrote out this exact list:
- Own less - including my car (PS. I live in Los Angeles… yeah)
- Wake up every morning without an alarm clock.
- Be Happy.
- Play more.
- Express myself in everything I do.
- Not worry about money.
After this day and until I left the company a few weeks later, I was in heaven. I’d cracked the code. My soon-to-be ex-coworkers noted how happy and calm I seemed. During one crisis, I was chastised for “Not being angry enough.” about the situation. All I could do was laugh about how stupid this whole charade was. I knew better. I was previously, currently and forever going to be, successful. And there was nothing anyone or anything could do to take that away from me.
Now, each morning, I wake up, without an alarm clock, pass by my empty parking spot to play for a little bit, come back and express myself through my work and the whole time I’m happy and not worrying about money. It never changes. Instead of tailoring my life to meet the supposed definition of success, I redefined it to fit my life.
And thats how I went from feeling miserable, depressed, riddled with anxiety, to the proud, happy and confident dweeb you’re reading today.
So tell me: What is your new definition of success? Not sure? Drop me a line.
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