When success is measured in terms of material accomplishment - money, power, fame, the best toys, experiences - the pleasure of achieving it is temporary. There is nothing wrong with that. Achieving this kind of success feels good. It is a sign of skillful action and adds to the ability to live well.
However, sometimes this kind of success costs too much - for example working 70 hours or more a week at the expense of health, family, and social life. Material success can become an addiction. The pleasure of succeeding ebbs after a while and the desire for the next achievement drives one on. Then there is the fear of not being able to succeed next time or of losing what was gained.
Or, material achievement may cause one to rest on their laurels - to stop doing the things that got them the success they have achieved. For example, I'm reminded of someone who succeeded in his quest for wealth, starting and growing a company. He stopped doing the things that led to his success, like caring about his customers and employees as individuals and focusing with concentrated attention on his work. Instead, he overspent and distanced himself from the company until he realized how his behavior was undermining his continued success.
Material success is fine, but, when success is seen as a continuous journey and a state of mind, the pleasure of achieving it is without side effects. That pleasure transforms into a sense of satisfaction, the kind of happiness that goes deep and is long-lasting. Great success includes many small successes and failures.
Success is knowing who you are, with the sense that you are enough. That you do not need success to be happy. You cultivate realistic self-confidence in the ability to mindfully face any situation.
The paradox is that success becomes possible because self-awareness brings self-confident happiness. Happiness emerges moment to moment. Self-confidence and self-awareness enable the action required to achieve.
What stops you from being in the moment and feeling like a success right now?
Can you let go of unrealistic expectations and self-limiting thoughts?
Can you accept small failures and learn from them?
Success is having a clear understanding of what matters, why it matters, and how what matters can be achieved.
What are your goals and values?
What do you want and why do you want it?
What are you willing to do to get it?
Will getting what you want make you happy and for how long?
Is getting what you want possible?
Success can be defined by others or you can define it for yourself. There is no need to take on cultural norms or your parents' and peers' success values. With mindful self-awareness, assess these norms and values and decide which are going to help you achieve great success.
The measure of great success is having a life that is as good as it can be dynamically balancing:
- Physical and mental health
- Social and economic conditions
- Being of service
- Spiritual awareness.
Mindful self-awareness is the foundation for great success.