What does success mean to you?

January 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Two posts in two days – woohoo! Kicking ass in 2013!

A friend recently shared a brainpickings post on Facebook: How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love. I almost didn’t bother clicking through because I’m happy doing what I do and I’m really not searching for my purpose anymore. I’m so glad I did, though. There’s some great stuff in this post, and following the links led me to more great stuff, and now I’ve got lots of little inspirational thoughts kicking around in my brain. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the original post:

One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. And we also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising to marketing, etcetera. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves. What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.

-Alain de Botton

So true! I think about this a lot as I move up the career ladder – am I doing this because it is what I really want, or is it just the obvious next step and I feel somehow obligated to take it? Promotions are great, but only if they get you closer to the things you really want to be doing. The quote above reminded me of one of my all-time favorites, from Robert Louis Stevenson:

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.

So here’s to defining success on your own terms, and not killing your soul.

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Ringing in the New Epiphany


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