Being successful, when discussed more broadly, is usually representative of fervent attempts to define what success supposedly means for us humans. And we all want to be successful in some way, right? The dictionary definitions of success generally mean the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. But, what if we have been heavily influenced to think our aim or purpose is better aligned with externally validated measures and not our own carefully considered ones? Then, the measures associated with that success become things like social status, material wealth, property ownership, popularity, attractiveness of mates, power, or superior positioning on a ladder of hierarchy. Not, whether we are truly happy with what we are doing and the authenticity of it to us. Nor, who we are being and how real this is, and building meaningful connections with those we love being it with.
And, what if these same measures keep people trapped in a wheel of forever chasing success that someone else has defined? Success that requires of itself gaining a prized feeling of external recognition intrinsically dependent on those aforementioned outward symbols of success. What if the “more, bigger, better” mantras hungrily fuelling personal motivation and driving discretionary effort are eventually experienced as empty, once the initial euphoria extinguishes itself on completion of each pursuit? Because, each reward’s high will diminish within 3 months (from habituation), then in order to get another hit in life, the urge to chase again returns. Not that working hard to achieve things, to set new goals, and to go again once achieved is a bad thing. Because it isn’t. However, the reason we are doing what we do in the first place, by knowing what we are really want as an outcome (at a truly authentic level) is the crucial factor for deciding what we should pursue and who we should pursue it with.
Your success (surely) is only truly success, if it is firstly deeply connected to the inner most authentic part of you that chose to pursue it, free from expectations of material validation and reward. An inner authentic self that knows what is important to you and makes this a priority, and can accept the different ways this might be delivered, including in ways you hadn’t expected.
All of those earlier mentioned measures of success can and do still end up part of your overall experience, when you are firmly on your own path. But, this is because attainment of these are an outcome of your authentic path setting, and not the goal in itself you are pursuing. And, that meaning and purpose is found in the authenticity of choices made. Choices strongly aligned to finding your best expression and representation of that to flow out in the outer world (and in doing so deeply satisfying you).
Your success must therefore be a deep, emotional, and complex personal quest, which is actually a more difficult thing to achieve than the materialistic gains previously described. This is why many rich (and otherwise materialistically successful) people are finding they are still not happy, whereas often those who seem to have little material possessions in life experience great happiness. One is drawing from the outside for meaning and personal satisfaction, and the other from the inside.
As humans we simply have much deeper needs than the material ones we are seen to pursue. And these are needs we often reject or deny ourselves of in the presence of confusion during important decision making. Perhaps, thinking such deep, emotional, and complex needs are surely unreasonable or unachievable when we are looking at our current starting point. So, instead we settle into something we don’t want, that is safe for us, or is completely unfulfilling and yet, still we do it. Or, we look for someone else to fill the hole inside of us, without filling it first for ourselves, and create unsatisfactory relationships as a result.
Our human needs are actually simple, and common. But just like common sense is not always applied, even though it is thought to be common, neither is attention to our core human needs. Basically, these are:
- The need to be loved for just who we are by those we most trust and care about (unconditional love)
- The need to be willfully engaged in things by choice that are completely worthwhile and meaningful to us (autonomy and meaning)
- And, the need for being genuinely connected to the people we surround ourselves with in a way that leads to the joyful experience of reciprocated effort, caring, and creation of worthwhile things and experiences together (connection and communication)
When we deny our wish for these needs, we are denying what the essence of being human is, and then we don’t pursue these as a goal. And, then we suffer, with suffering being the most common human experience than just about anything. But, we don’t like to talk about our suffering do we, as we think it somehow makes us less of a capable person, right?
But wait, what about our dreams? Those things we imagine, then bring to life, that fuel us to have different experiences with different people and in different ways. Encouraging us to expand our creativity outwards in a way that ignitesour passion and lights us up when we’re talking about it. What happens when we allow ourselves to dream of being able to drive our own destiny in a way that sustains us emotionally and spiritually across time? Of being able to do the things that have the most meaning to us, the things that most motivate us, and that result in us feeling good about life. And what about when we dream that we love, are loved, and are connected with good people who become part of our journey in life through healthy bonding? What happens is we are imagining and creating a vision for ourselves. Every creation first starts with a vision that has been seen through our imagination. So in setting and shaping your own path in life, start with an authentic vision for yourself.
Setting your own path means knowing what and who creates the most alive energy around you and steering your life in a direction aligned with this. Always re-correcting the path you are on when you’ve taken a wrong turn and have realised it. Taking risks on the things that are important to you, and not sweating the things that are not. And importantly, taking a stand on what is most important to you, your values, yours (and others) wellbeing. Releasing and letting go the minor frivolities that are really very unimportant to your bigger vision, and don’t and won’t matter.
Of course, some people prefer not to take risks and not to pioneer and explore for themselves. But, for those of us who yearn for more freedom to scribble outside the lines, and set our own path, there are certain things we must know well and stay true to on that journey. We must know ourselves inside out, including what is important to us, what and who we value, and what provides the most meaning to us. We must also know what our weaknesses are, so that we do not let them sabotage our own forward movement – because they can and will if we allow them to.