Success is overrated. Or do we just define it wrong?

success is overrated

Success is overrated.

In our society, we’re often measured by certain achievements and milestones. Someone who’s good at school will have an easier time imagining a bright future than someone who struggles. Going to university, finding a job that pays well: all that we use to determine how successful we are in life.

As employees, we strive to get a raise or a promotion. As entrepreneurs, we want our business to transform into our very own empire. Even when we get together with old classmates, we secretly compare who’s done best. Who has got the biggest house, the biggest career, the biggest success?

Contrary to that, prioritising other parts of life can leave us feeling guilty, lazy, judged. You might love being a stay-at-home mum, but can you feel completely confident next to someone who has kids and is still working full time? You might have a job you adore, but when that job earns less than other people’s, you’re bound to question your success at least once in a while.

Our definition of success is based on unrealistic expectations

I believe that if we were all to examine a specific group of people, we wouldn’t have much trouble agreeing on who’s the most successful. It would be the person who has made the biggest impact and earns the most money, right?

But would you assume that the most successful person is also the happiest? The one leading the most fulfilling life?

Not necessarily, in my opinion. In fact, most people who have super successful careers in my entourage often feel stressed and feel like they’re failing their families and their health while working too much. Of course, that’s not always true. But there just doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation between success and happiness.

And if that’s true, wouldn’t it mean that success is just this concept we all strive to achieve, although it doesn’t actually do much for us? If it doesn’t create happiness, then why would we even want to strive for it in the first place?

Success is yours to define

Actually, I don’t believe that success is bad, or something you shouldn’t work for. I just believe that our definition of success is inherently flawed.

Why is it that we associate success with work but rarely with other parts of our lives? When you think of a successful woman, you’re more likely to imagine someone wearing a suit and working in a lawyer’s office rather than a mum who managed to successfully raise six kids. Isn’t that so? Maybe she’ll get bonus points if she did both at the same time though.

Nonetheless, success isn’t limited to work or being really good at multi-tasking.

I personally believe that being successful simply means succeeding in doing what you want to do with your life. The thing that makes you happy. To some, that might be their career. To others, it might be raising children. Or something else entirely. 

Your idea of success can change

In the past, I was always the girl who dreamed of a successful career. I wanted to create something that made a difference. I wanted to prove to the world that I do matter. Then, I became a mum.

Having a child changed everything for me. I, who was so sure that I’m not the maternal type and would much rather focus on my work, am suddenly realising that family matters so much more to me. I didn’t know what I was missing, and now that I do, I’m not willing to sacrifice it.

Of course, this is my experience and yours might be entirely different. But one fact remains: your idea of success can change. And since you obviously change as a person over the years, it’s probably bound to change. We call that growing up, I guess. 

Living in the moment instead of living for the future

The biggest difference between my vision of success then and now is that my now is much more focused on the present. I used to dream years ahead, imagining what I could accomplish if I did this or that.

I still have these dreams and I still work towards them. They just no longer define my perceived value.

Now, I look forward to summer days because I’ll be able to spend time outside with my family. I love my work, too, but I can feel happy and content even when I haven’t made as much money this month as I ideally would like.

A happy life is a successful life

Our definition of success, the one associated with money and careers, doesn’t take happiness into account. They’re not intrinsically related. But shouldn’t we consider a person to be successful when they’ve lived a fulfilling life, one that has created happiness and satisfaction? 

The literal definition of success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. But we are the ones who get to define that aim or purpose for our own lives. And no one else gets to judge us for it.

Success is overrated. Or do we just define it wrong?

What are your thoughts on the topic of success? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!

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