Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of success includes “the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.” Everyone wants to be successful in some way, but have we placed too much of an emphasis on the attainment of wealth and forgotten the other small but relevant definitions of success?
As a society, we have compiled a pop-culture definition of success. It goes something like graduating from a prestigious college, landing a high-paying job and maybe getting married and having children — all while maintaining emotional and mental stability. Say you achieve all these things and become the American Dream poster child for success: Now what?
A personal standard of success is important, and often forgotten in a society that values material possessions and the image of an ideal life.
Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of internet marketing company AudienceBloom, says that “achieving these goals often leaves people without the feeling of success they thought they'd have.” DeMers says that “understanding what really satisfies you is the key to building and pursuing goals that truly matter, and grounding your temporary setbacks with context and understanding.”
We’ve forgotten to place an emphasis on these little pieces of success that we achieve every day.
Instead of striving to be successful, strive to have grit and be excellent in what you do. Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, gave a TED talk on how to hypothetically predict and measure grit in young children based on personality questionnaires. After analyzing data over the years, she found that the children whose questionnaires reflected a strong work ethic had the highest grit scores.
Grit can be defined as working towards something no matter how difficult it is. Society's definition of success could change if we shifted our perspective to having grit and calling these efforts success.
Achieving a personal standard of excellence and getting up when you fail should be our idea of success. Better yet, redefine success as a means to gain joy or meet your own personal goals. Giving in and rewarding yourself for the little things can make all the difference.
So the real question to ask yourself now is: Is your definition of success constructed by your career and salary, or is it about that feeling you get when you go to sleep at night knowing that you had challenges and persevered anyways?