What do you want to achieve in life? We all have different goals and aspirations and finding your true calling can be a difficult task. Is your goal to start your own business, become incredibly wealthy, or maybe serve others? Have you ever sat down and thought about why you are chasing your goals? Is it because you will gain the respect of others? Is it because society tells you that to be successful in life you must do X? Or is it because your pursuits align with your core values?

As I started out in my career in finance, all I really cared about was how much money I was making and how could I move up as quick as possible. I had a desire to be noticed. I wanted people to see me as a success and I believed this occurred through money and power. I was chasing external achievements to make myself full. As I have gotten older and gained more life experience, I realize that this is not the path to happiness and fulfillment. There is no amount of money that can make you happy if you don’t already have an internal sense of well-being. I spent most of my 20s and early 30s chasing the dollar and trying to appear successful to my friends and family. But what is success? We all should have our own definitions of success.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” Bruce Lee

Now, my definition of success has much more to do with the value I place on time and freedom more so than money. Money allows you to have more control over both but it is just a resource to help improve your life and that of others. Continuing to accumulate more and more stuff is not the path to happiness. This does not mean you must live a meager lifestyle. The key is to change your relationship with money and to see it as the tool it is, not the end goal. When I finally decided to sit down and determine what I wanted in life, I realized meaningful relationships, personal growth, helping others become their best self, and having an open mind added much more value to my life. As I started to prioritize these things and worried less about how much money I was making, I started to make more money. I also realized that it didn’t matter what other people were doing and I should focus more on being a better version of myself every day.

“Love people, use things, the opposite never works.” The Minimalists

We are all working to find our path in this world and everyone’s will be different. Let’s quit comparing ourselves to everyone else and celebrate prosperity for all. This will lead to success. This life is tough enough even if you’re not worried about what everyone else is doing.

“Fill your bowl to the brim

and it will spill.

Keep sharpening your knife

and it will blunt.

Chase after money and security

and your heart will never unclench.

Care about people’s approval

and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back.

The only path to serenity.”

― Lao Tzu

Constantly comparing ourselves to others and chasing the next big thing is part of the human condition but it can bring so much suffering and unhappiness. It is something I struggle with daily but through breath work and journaling, I have been able to slow down the “comparing mind” and work on my own path.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

To Sum it Up

If you don’t define success on your own terms, somebody else will. Failing to define success may cause you to look back late in life and realize you were climbing the wrong mountain all along. Success is personal, don’t let society define it for you. Sit down and write out your version of success. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Write a detailed version of your daily life. Write about where you live, your significant other, your pets, the food you ate. Start from the minute you wake up and don’t skip anything. Read this every year to determine if you are on the path. I found this exercise from listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast with Debbie Millman. It served me well and I believe it could help you too.

Call to Action

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