You Define and Re-Define What Success Means

Success is something we all want, but few of us actually understand what it is. I’ve been wrestling with this topic for a while. I keep looking for a definition of success that tells me it’s concrete and not open for interpretation. I want something that I can look at and say, yes, or no. Turns out, that’s not how success works.

I recently came to realization that I look for that type of success because I view myself as a failure. That disposition requires a third party to validate me. This is a fear based position. I don’t want to proclaim my successes because of the fear of judgement. As you all know from recent posts, I’m working to kill my fear.

How does fear keep me from being successful? Well, I fear what I view as a success, others will not and pass judgment. I think we can all immediately agree that anything we do out of an obligation to please others is not success. I look back on a lot of what I have accomplished in my life and see that a vast majority of it was to please someone else, or to satisfy an obligation (socially and self-imposed). I graduated college to make my mom happy. I got a desk job so people would think I’m doing well. I went to all night prayer meetings so God would think I’m worth loving.

Don’t misunderstand me. Graduating college is good. Having a job is good. Praying is good. Doing it out of fear or obligation is bad. Fear creates an action oriented life, but the result of those actions is always disappointment. I saw my results as a failure because I was judging the outcome based on others.

Here’s a good example, have you ever gone to a movie that is super hyped up and came out disappointed? The expectation of the most perfect movie will always fall flat, because there is no perfect movie. Similarly, because nothing ever went exactly how I thought it would, I judged myself as failure.

judging our past success
Do you judge your past self?

The reality is that success is deeply personal. I am my own person and must define success for myself. Anything else will be an imposed lie, making it impossible to fully realize my truth. It is not until we break out of the lie and pursue the Truth, that we can succeed. The difficult part is that there are no rules on what this means. My immediate response tho this was to ask others to set rules for me, again fearing to define my own success.

I am nowhere close to coming up with a definition, but here is what I have learned so far.

Success is dynamic. The universe is in motion. We never stop changing. Therefore, success will mean something different for each person in each season.

Success is based on our values. Where our heart is, there lies our treasure. We can run into problems here too, because Values are dynamic as well and can be tainted by fear. I use to value other’s opinions, which left me frustrated. That’s not how I would view success because…

Success results in happiness. If you achieved your goal, accomplished what you set out to do, and aren’t happy, then your values should be evaluated and adjusted. Also, those things that make us most happy change as all things do. So if success is dynamic, the operation and result of success will also be different.

result of success is happyness
If you can look in the mirror and smile, then you are successful

My final thought on this for now is that failure is not the opposite of success. This is not a win or lose game we are playing. Life is a river, seeking the best path forward. It moves, adjusts, and changes constantly. Only when it stops moving, becomes stale, stagnant, does it become a failure. We will take hits, trip and fall, make mistakes. Those are not failures. Quitting, giving up, that is where failure is. Success is in the pursuit, the journey.

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