Redefining Success

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I find it incredibly whimsical to dress up and be whatever you want for the day, say whatever you want to say while in character and all the while – mostly – avoid judgment. What a fascinating holiday – side note: maybe we should do this every day?

Yesterday, after I opened the door and turned on the porch light, I had several trick-or-treaters. My favorite was an adorable girl dressed in the cutest Wonder Woman outfit. I think it must have been a popular outfit this year because as she was walking up to my house, there was another Wonder Woman across the road at my neighbor’s house.

Seeing her, the girl at my door pointed and said to her mom, “Mom, look, it’s Wonder Woman!” In response, her mom replied, “Your outfit is better.” The comment took me aback a bit and made me reflect a little on how we define success.

Why do we define success by comparing ourselves to others? Are we trained from childhood to equate success with competition and trying to prove we’re better than others? If we are trained to define success in reference to others, how does that impact our quality of life and the quality of life of other individuals ? Is this where “Schadenfreude” stems from? Why do we create a competition that can lead to either ourselves or others not feeling good enough?

To break this cycle, try the following:

  • Redefine your worth. Before you do anything, give yourself a “reality check.” Do you know how great you are? Do you know that it’s futile to compare yourself to someone else?
  • Stop the madness. What is holding you back? See a therapist, change jobs, get a divorce, just stop complaining and comparing. It’s contagious and you’ve probably lost a few friends over it.
  • Reflect Inwards. Instead of comparing yourself to others, internalize your reflection and determine whether you are proud of accomplishments you’ve had over the past month. If there are none to speak of, then increase your scope to the past six months or year. If you find the list of your accomplishments lacking, it may be time to seek out and pursue new opportunities.
  • Be true to yourself. No matter how hard you try, there’s only one you, and everyone else is taken.
  • Practice makes perfect. Every day, repeat the mantra that you are wonderful and perfect just the way you are.

I believe anyone can be successful, whether you are the rock star Wonder Woman or a Wonder Woman with a slightly inferior costume. You don’t have to be a CEO or the President to be considered “successful” and the validity of your success is not measured by others.

Instead, it is an internal value that should be determined by your own measure of accomplishment. When you start following these steps, I truly believe that you can start finding and owning your success. Let’s start challenging ourselves to redefine success. What does success mean to you?

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Bill Jenkins

Good stuff, especially about defining success for myself. I have accomplished things which are important that many people would not take too much notice of.