Updated: Feb 22
When I was younger I thought success was making a lot of money.
And this is what I chased after school. I went to uni and studied hard so I can get a job that pays great money.
After applying for dozens of jobs, I finally landed a job with a major Australian bank and after just 6 weeks I walked into my manager's office and resigned. Put simply, I hated the job and couldn’t see myself staying there a day longer.
I kept thinking to myself, all these years of studying has led up to this moment. I should be happy by now. I’ve reached the “grown up” stage and have got “the job” which was meant to make me successful and happy.
But all I could really think about is “Why am I not happy?”
You see, a funny thing happens when you’re growing up. Without realising it, you start filling your mind with ideas about what success means and most of the time you’re not conscious of these ideas until they’ve come to the surface. (image source)
This is exactly what happened to me. I accepted other people’s idea of success without questioning it for myself; with the result was an empty feeling of accomplishment followed by lots of existential angst.
1. What does success mean to you?
Does it mean having lots of money?
Is it being physically and mentally healthy?
What do you think of when you hear someone is "successful"?
2. Where did this idea of success come from?
Thing for a moment whether this idea of success is yours or being handed down to you from external sources. Is is what your parents think? Is it what your friends think? Where does the idea of success come from in your mind?
3. Do you still want to pursue this version of success?
I used to think making lots of money was my idea of success but when I realised that's just the expectations put on me, I was able to let go of this idea of success and focus on a much more fulfilling version: contributing to people's lives using my skills.
Whilst we're only focusing on careers, it's important to realise the many different areas of life outside of work. A successful life is not one dimensional. Humans aren’t robots who can just work all day, eat and sleep. We all need a social life, a healthy body and mind, an avenue for fun, creativity and growth, a job that connects us to community and money that supports our chosen lifestyle and so on.
Nevertheless, having fulfilling work has been linked to improved health outcomes and improved life satisfaction. source