what is success?

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How do you define success? Most people define success as having a lot of money and material things. Maybe it’s someone who can take vacations to exotic locations. Perhaps it is a person who can mrub shoulders with the rich and famous. It might be that they desire to have their names in lights and be popular.

But is that truly what defines success to everyone?

Personal story…

I remember having a boss recently who kept pushing me with the idea of promotions.

“If you’d do this, you can get promoted.”

“You should act a certain way so you’ll be in line for a promotion.”

“Learn how to do that you’ll be more inclined to be advance your career.”

His ultimate desire was to have a team full of what he deemed were “successes”.

But never once did he ask me what I wanted. Not once.

Another boss I had a long time ago took each one of his team members aside and asked them each very important questions: “What do you enjoy doing? Where do you want to go from here?” And he made every effort to accommodate their desires. His team was happy. We were doing things we enjoyed in the confines of our positions.

The first unnamed boss had a team of people who did their job. But, deep down, none were happy. Many of them still aren’t. More and more were loaded on their shoulders the higher they went in the ranks. Their reasonable requests for help were ignored. They were given excuses on why their requests couldn’t be accommodated, and then they were told to buck it up. Their family and their own personal interests would have to be laid aside to accommodate the requirements of their position – just like he had to do.

He’s now divorced. His family moved far away. He has his job and his position. But if that were to go away, would he really feel successful?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The second boss is still happily married. He left the company to pursue his own dreams. And he has succeeded in relationships and business by reaching his own goals.

So what is success?

Success requires goals. You need your own goals. Without goals, how can anyone know if they achieve success?

A fellow coworker believed that everyone would be happy if they all received massive raises. I challenged him. “But what if that isn’t what a person wants or needs? What if their motivations are different than money? Maybe it’s recognition. Perhaps it’s having more time to spend with their loved ones. Or just maybe it’s running their own business. Maybe it’s…”

He was shocked that anyone disagreed. And he didn’t change his mind. To him, the end goal was wealth.

To me, recognition of a job well done and for going above and beyond my position would have been more satisfactory…something I never got.

Let’s look at what others believe…

I recently read an article that touted that successful people didn’t take breaks. They would get their lunch and then sit down and work through it, eating at the same time. Basically they were a slave to their job.

Others believe that to succeed, a person needed to put a good portion of their money they earned into stocks and retirement. By the time they were old enough to retire, they’d be wealthy enough to live comfortably. But most people don’t make enough to live off of, so there’s isn’t a good proportion of the pay left to do this.

Still others think that success is defined by achieving their life dreams. They may or may not be wealthy, but they would enjoy their work. Maybe they live in the woods in a cabin they built with their own hands. Maybe they work for a grocery store part time, spending the rest of their time interacting and working with their community.

Putting in the extra time to reach whatever goal they define is, to them, worth the effort of seeing their dreams come to fruition.

My personal goal…

For me, my personal goal is to regain the health lost by sitting for hours at a desk working on computers. 10-12 hour days. No lunch breaks. Barely breakfast. Living off coffee and whatever quick food was available to continue working. I was working to reach everyone else’s deadlines. I didn’t have time for my own dreams. And I drove for hours daily to and from the well-paying jobs. For over 30 years.

And I suffered the consequences.

So I set some goals for myself.

One of my goals was to get completely out of debt, including the mortgage. Then I recalculated my budget to the bare minimum just to see what I could live with. I figured out how long I could survive on what I’d saved.

Then once I reached the financial goals, I quit. Just like that.

It was a “Never Again” moment that triggered my decision. No longer would I become a slave to a corporation, or ANY company for that matter. I belonged to my own dreams. And it was time to take ownership of them.

I gained the first step toward my journey to success. My personal success.

Let’s look at the financial side for a minute…

One financial planner said, “Don’t leave your job until your boat is closer to the dock.” For some, that is an impossible task. Unless they are willing to take on more jobs to stop the financial bleeding. And they are willing to set a budget in place to avoid spending more than they should.

Credit and credit cards will keep anyone trapped. They demand high interest. Unless you pay off the card in full as soon as the bill comes in, you will be paying on average around 25% more for that 99¢ hamburger you charged at the fast food chain…about $1.24. That’s about 25¢ you could have saved for paying off something else.

Do that every work day and you end up spending $65 a year in interest alone. On daily 99¢ hamburgers.

And don’t forget what the credit card companies did a few years back. While some people faithfully paid their credit cards back in full monthly, the credit card companies responded to a Congressional change in how they could operate. So they jacked up the rates, lowered the debt caps, and fined those same people for being over their cap. It took everyone by surprise.

So how much is it costing?

So think about how much you’re spending on that couch, dress, shoes, food, etc. every time you swipe the card. Think about the alternative – paying in cash. No interest. No need to pay anything off and the end of the month. What you bought is your as soon as you paid for it. In full.

Houses aren’t cheap, either. Total, a living space shouldn’t cost you over 25% of your take-home pay. But banks and mortgage companies tell you that 35% or more on the loan itself (minus the taxes and insurance added to the monthly total) is just fine.

Ditto with cars. The average cost of a car today is the same cost as a house not too long ago…half the cost just 20 years ago. And if you lease a car, or rent a living space, you’ll never own anything.

To some, that’s okay. Work with what is comfortable for you.

But don’t accept living in debt as the norm.


Inflation is real. And no one is noticing.

Books were only 25¢ when I was a kid. Those same little books cost $12.99 or more today. That’s close to a 52% increase in costs since the 1960’s.

But because the prices rising has been so gradual, until now, most people never even noticed.

Now, the sudden rise in housing (around here it went from $200,000 to $300,000 in a year for cracker jack sized houses on postage stamp parcels, for example), to the cost of food and gas has caused most to wonder what is going on.

Free handouts aren’t free. They seem to be a great thing, and everyone loves to get without effort.

But the reality is, those free handouts from our government cost money. It hits the average American in taxes. And a lot of that cost is passed on to the consumers from businesses which take quite a hit in corporate income taxes.

Taxes fund the costs. There is no such thing as a “free lunch”. Someone has to pay for it.

And inflation is something to think about when determining a budget. It is also something to think about when making major purchases, or paying off debt. The income you make today may not give you the wiggle room you want to spend on extras. If you are serious about owing nothing to anyone (except, of course, taxes), then you need to understand that inflation is a part of the financial mix.

So, back to the subject…

You determine what your success will look like. Don’t look at anyone else. Don’t think about what everyone else thinks of as “success”.

For me, it was the freedom to do what I love. It was to be out from under the foot of someone else’s deadlines and goals.

I’ve had two businesses before, and I know how hard it is to meet the financial side. But I also know the difference between doing what I love, and doing what the world expects me to love.

I don’t like computers anymore. They are merely tools and are used as such. They’ve driven everyone in nearly every industry into technocratic slavery. We can’t operate even a gas pump without it.

Every job posting on major job sites requires computer skills. But these job sites don’t list other job options, like gardening, farming, skywriting, cattle ranching, painting pictures, sculpting, making butter…you get the idea. They don’t cover the skills that are outside the typical, societally defined opportunities. And the only type you’ll find posted are ones that belong to a company or corporation.

But maybe your dream isn’t something they offer. Are you willing to pursue your own unique dreams, on your own? Are you willing to put in the effort to reach them? Would you be willing to try to set out on your own, without the steady income, just to be happy? Maybe for the first time?

How do you get there from here?

I’ve covered this before in another post, but it never hurts to review this part again.

In order for you to get where you want to go, you need to make a plan. And you must set a target date or you’ll find excuses to not make the effort to get there.

What would it take for you to pursue your dream? Do you remember what it was? What do you enjoy doing? What did you enjoy doing in the past?

Do you even have the time to think about what you loved?

Once you figure that out, then think about the next step.

Have you saved any money? Paid off all your debts, or still are using credit? Have enough to be free from a job for about 6 months to a year – or longer? If you want to pursue a dream, you need to live within your means. Then make a plan to finally take that leap of faith.

Faith…the key

Fear can prevent you from even starting. It is a great discourager…a powerful emotion you must not give it to.

The key to moving forward with your plans is faith. It’s faith in something greater than you. Putting faith in yourself. And a strong conviction that you are doing the right thing.

And it’s faith that you know what you are doing is something you enjoy doing…even in times when motivation is low.

You’ll know you’ve reached that course on your way to your dream. Even when you don’t want to do it, you do it anyway. And once you begin a task on that journey, suddenly it becomes enjoyable again. You know it’s worth the effort to keep going.

Have faith. Believe in your dreams. It may not pay much. It may not pay anything at all. But, remember, that success isn’t defined for everyone as the increase in wealth and things. For you, it may be that you still work while pursuing what you love, but you work somewhere that allows you time to do the things you enjoy. It may be something that you passionately believe is needed by the community at large. It may be an artistic challenge.

Only you know what that will look like.

Motivate yourself…

The pay isn’t always the motivation. Conviction is. Determination is. Recognition might be. But reaching your goals is the reason you are doing what you want to do.

Find ways to motivate yourself.

Look for inspiration in others who have reached similar goals. Listen to those who have done what they set out to do. Listen to motivational speakers who will inspire you to follow your dreams.

There is only one you. And you alone have your dreams inside of you waiting to be released. And only you can release them. Only you have them. You are unique. So are your dreams.

So go for it. Don’t give yourself excuses to put off any longer. Make a plan. Stick to it. And reach for the stars.

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