It is always a dilemma when we think about success. The most fundamental question is the most baffling one; What exactly is the success? What does it mean? Every dimension of success has a counter view to it. Does the success mean material wealth? Does it mean freedom to what do whatever you want? Does the success mean being famous? Or the success means self-actualization & finding the ultimate truth? Though one might say that this definition will be every individuals’ own, but the truth is none of these dimensions will be mutually exclusive for most of us. If one says the success for her is wealth, does that mean she doesn’t want the freedom to enjoy life, to spend time with family, to be a part of kids growing up? Or when one says she wants to be famous, does that mean her existence will be superfluous and she won’t want inner peace and won’t try to seek the ultimate truth? It’s the most curious question. And no matter who you are and what you have achieved in life, you would have some discontent about something that you could not succeed at, some failure in life, something that you even might want to do at the expense of some of your current achievement if given a chance? It might be in hindsight, but usually, there is a realization that you would have wanted to change your definition of success to be more inclusive of other dimensions.

But does that mean having everything-money, freedom, family, time, inner peace, fame, everything is the definition of success? That’s not practically possible. You might have money and fame, which comes with the relentless pursuit of goals, which means you might not have been able to spend enough time with family and friends and would have had to let many pleasures of life go. You might have enjoyed the freedom by charting the course of life which gives you ample time to travel, be with family and enjoy most of the pleasures that simple life brings with it, but then you might be left behind in the race to the professional top. There is something that you need to give up. The excellence never comes without sacrifices. Hence, having everything imaginable can’t also be the real definition of success.

So the question is, how to approach success so that it feels satisfactory? How to think about it so that it doesn’t leave you with greater dissatisfaction? How to define it and how to go about it? Let’s think about it a little bit.

Define your own success


Photo by Mika Matin on Unsplash


The very first thing to understand that the definition of real success should be your own. Many times, we give in to social norms, peer pressure, parental expectations and images created by media. There are stereotypes of the success created and promoted in our interactions, advertisements & any other form of communication and we accept those stereotypes. We start believing that those stereotypes are real parameters of success and forget what we really like and what we really want from life. Once we accept those stereotypes, we start putting all our efforts & energy behind conformance to those. This not only takes us away from our real definition of success but also give rise to ongoing unhappiness because what we are trying to achieve, is not really what we want. Hence, efforts required to achieve that and every challenge and roadblock starts wearing us out, because deep down, we don’t enjoy those.

Consider the journey and be ready for challenges & compromises

The road to any achievement is hard and filled with challenges. You need to sweat out in the gym if you want a chiseled body. You need to practice hard if you want to be a champion sportsman. You need to devote time to the things that you want to achieve. And that means you will need to take that time out of some other activity. It can be family time. It can mean not taking any vacations. It can mean spending way too much time in the office. You need to make compromises.

When these compromises are within limits, are within the boundaries we find acceptable, we can enjoy the fruits of labor. Once you have defined what success means to you, you also need to be ready to make compromises to achieve that. Are you ready to give up family time to rise professionally? Are you willing to work hard to achieve the fitness and physic that you desire? Are you willing to give up other pleasures of life in order to achieve what you think is the success? Every seemingly successful person has a story of compromises and failures behind that success. Unless you are willing to go down that path, you should relook at your success definition.

Accept that the life would change the definition


Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash

However, as most things in life, the definition of success may not be static. It changes with as the life progresses. We acquire knowledge and wisdom. Our outlook changes. The external environment changes. The core values may remain intact throughout the life, but the definition of success may change with the shift in priorities in life. What may have seemed like a permanent destination when we began our journey, may just become another milestone. Our readiness to make compromises and the energy to put in efforts will shift. And hence, the success may look different now than it used to look like a few years earlier.

Can this recognition, of shifting priorities and changed motivations lead us to an everlasting feeling of achievement? If we give in to the change if we embrace the changing shape of life instead of fighting it by clinging on to older definitions, can it make us happy?  Can that be the path to everlasting success? We don’t know, do you?