Your Success Is Not My Success

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

This is one of those timeless proverbs I’m sure we’ve all heard before. It means that the perception of beauty is subjective, so what one person finds admiring or beautiful, another may not. The same is true for success as well. Success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

What I define as success may not be what you define as success. Therefore, it’s a subjective concept. Individual. Personal.

Yet I feel that oftentimes people get the whole notion of success misconstrued.

We hear “success” and we immediately think of fame, popularity, money. We see a famous celebrity on TV and think “That’s what I want. That’s success.”

Are those dishonorable things to strive for? Are they bad goals to set for ourselves? Not at all. Is that person on TV evil for displaying their wealth and fame for others to see? Of course not. Are they influential? Definitely.

They certainly play a big part in our definition of “success”.

But not just celebrities. The people in our own lives, the ones closest to us, our friends and family, also have the power to greatly influence us. Someone we know starts getting closer and closer to a goal of theirs, or they start getting recognition for something they did, and we take notice. We start to think to ourselves “That’s what I want. That’s success.” I mean, they’re doing something right, so you should do it to. Right?

Not necessarily.

Let’s use an example. A goal of mine is to be an author. A friend of mine at school shares the same goal. My friend, however, is a little further ahead in the game. For weeks now he’s been sending copies of his finished work to those at our school who are interested and tells me how he plans on publishing in a few months. I’m obviously happy for him, because I know how long he’s been working on this book for.

Now that’s success, right?

He made a goal in his mind, then set out to complete it. Now he’s almost done and about to be an official author. To him, yeah, probably. But not to me. My goal is no less ambitious, just not as large, for lack of a better term. For me, I’d like to be able to come up with a story and actually stick with it past a few thousand words without thinking of something else and scrapping the whole thing. It’s a vicious cycle (and writer’s block doesn’t make it any easier). Regardless, I keep telling myself that eventually I’ll stick to something I actually like, something I can be just as engrossed in as my potential readers can be.

So that’s success. To me. But is it to you? Well, maybe you could never even entertain the thought of sitting down and writing a 500-word novel and finding enjoyment out of it (or maybe you can, and if so, then props to you, ’cause that’s not easy). So in your case, no, that’s not what success means. Maybe to you it means buying a house, nailing an interview, getting married, starting a family, getting six-pack abs. Or maybe it’s something smaller. Instead, maybe it’s making your first payment on your mortgage, applying for a job, talking to that girl or guy you’ve been stalking for weeks, or doing a full push-up (yes, that’s legs straight, all the way down and up).

Success is different for everyone. Different people have different ways of defining it, and that’s fine, because what’s worth working for and striving towards to them might not be worth it to you. Respect what those around you define as success, yet stay true to your definition.

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” – Carl Jung

Image from Pixabay by geralt.


3 thoughts on “Your Success Is Not My Success

  1. Very true. There is no stereotype to the word succes, although people have generalized conceptions about it – mostly materialistic. As you aptly put it, and I agree, there’s shall be no absolute definition of success, no world standard that applies to it, only examples to illustrate how other people met the standards which they placed upon themselves on such and such areas of their lives.
    Very well-written post Jake. I love the way you utilized here the principle of ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Ingenious 👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andrei, and you’re right, success is often associated with materialistic gain: money, cars, clothes, as well as social status, fame, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, and anyone can choose to strive for these things if they want to. But as you said, there is, and should never be, a generally-accepted definition for success. It truly is different for everyone.


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