“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
We sometimes become confused about whose life we are living. Our own? Our parents? Our friends? Sometimes it seems like everyone else’s life but our own.
We are significantly influenced by those closest to us, primarily at a young age, but it continues well into adulthood. Additionally, since we live in a highly interconnected society, media and popular culture can have an unhealthy and major influence on our self-image. Definitions of success can be prescribed through peer pressure, to align behavior more toward peers and less toward the values of the individual.
Hyper-consumption can define success as material possessions, driving us to feel inadequate, or encouraging poor financial habits.
Well-meaning friends and family can have their own definitions of success, and wish to see us fit closer to their perceptions, rather than ours.
Parents and schools often define success in terms that were adequate for their own generation, but completely inadequate for the future generation that today’s students will face.
I believe you need to define success on your own terms! Not on the terms of your parents, society, friends, family, or even your spouse, but on the terms that work for you, and you alone. They must be terms that work for your current circumstances and capabilities of today, and your plans for tomorrow.
By defining success on your own terms, you disregard the expectations of others and create milestones upon which you can build the habit of achievement. By defining success on your own terms, you can become your own winner, not someone else’s loser. If you fail, you can try again, with more knowledge and experience to aid you. If you succeed, you meet your own expectations, not those of others.
I am not advocating making life too easy or setting the bar too low, but making sure you create the right environment for yourself to become successful so you can build the habits, motivations and rewards necessary to achieve your own goals and become the winner you are meant to be.
To define success on your terms, do the following:
Define What Success Means to You. Be thoughtful when you consider success and put real meaning to it. Think beyond career, material possessions and the external world. Focus inward on self- development and on being the best you can be, so you can magnify your impact and help more.
Determine Why You Want to Achieve It. Ask “Why?” a lot, and try to understand what drives you. Look at your external world for influence, positive and negative, and seek to understand the source of your motivation. Be thoughtful, introspective and deliberate.
Have the Courage to Say It’s Important and Stay the Course. Have the courage to stand up to the forces around you and be your own person, a free individual with free will. Build the character muscle necessary to determine what success will mean to you, and then build the perseverance necessary to achieve it.
Eamonn has a B. Eng. (Electrical) from Lakehead University, MBA (Finance) from University of Toronto, and has completed Executive Education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. Follow him on twitter @EamonnPercy.