The meaning of success is very personal, subjective and relative. It is personal because everyone has their own set of goals that they consider to be important to be successful. It is subjective and relative because we view the level of attainment to be different, depending on the activity. As an example, to bat .300 in baseball is considered extremely successful, but a grade of 30% in education is below failing. Depending on where we are in life it is also relative. My 9-month-old grand nephew is taking his first delicate steps with the aid of one of his stand-up toys. Everyone is very excited that he is so close to walking, but if he were a three-year-old taking his first steps, they would be worried about his development.
It’s important that you use your own definition of the meaning of success in order to measure your own life progress. That’s because we all came here (the earth) to experience and achieve certain milestones for our own evolution that are exclusively ours, no one else’s. This explains why we all value different things as being important. Once you accept this concept, it makes no sense to judge anyone else’s lifestyle or life pursuits just because they are different from your own. And it makes no sense to let anyone else dictate your life pursuits either.
I consider myself to be an anomaly within my group of peers. I come from the Midwest where marrying and having children were the meaning of success for women my age. A career was something secondary, something you worked at to bring in a little extra money. I knew from the age of five that I did not want to have children. Being a mother held absolutely no appeal for me. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I wasn’t sure, but I knew that my meaning of success didn’t include becoming a mother. I did get married to a most wonderful man and we are still together today. I was very clear with my husband about my non-nurturing nature and he, miraculously, decided that he didn’t care as long as we were together.
When I graduated from college, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be and had no idea of my own meaning of success. Corporate America had decided that I would become a secretary because that’s what girls did while waiting for the first babies to arrive. In 1972 it was the only job I could get so that’s what I did. I soon found out that I had a real connection with and knack for business. I also discovered that I was smarter than most of the people around me and I set about getting out of the secretarial ghetto. I had a saying in those days, “Never let them see you type!” It was certainly OK to know how to type, just never let prospective employers actually see you doing it or you were forever sentenced to the secretarial pool. It took me four years to get out of being a secretary and land an entry-level inside sales position. I was in heaven! In sales, I could move as fast as possible up the ladder, depending on my sales performance alone! I could dictate my own level and meaning of success. And I did, getting promoted with that company five times in nine years.
My husband and I decided we were bored in the land where we were born and set about to move to California. This was difficult to do, but we managed to do it. This was another thing that Midwesterners seldom do—move far away from family and friends. But we considered it an adventure. I felt immediately at home when I reached California and have loved living here ever since.
We have had our ups and downs as it is financially difficult to make it in the golden state, but neither of us has ever regretted our decision. Most people from the Midwest hate California. They say to me, “How do you stand all the traffic and all the people?” I answer with a straight face, “You’re right, it’s terrible, don’t come!”
So as you can see I have spent a lot of my life living against the grain. I always listened to my inner voice when it came to doing what I wanted to do and knowing what would make me happy. I have followed my own meaning of success. I encourage you to do so also. You really do know what you want, so if you find yourself yearning to do something else or be somewhere else, find a way to make it happen.
Your inner voice will tell you where it is you need to be—not where your family and friends think you should be. After all you are following your life plan, one that is exclusive to your particular evolution. Our needs and desires are built-in road maps for us to know what to do. It’s important to listen to those needs and desires to find your own meaning of success. If you follow your heart, you will find that your life purpose and plan unfolds and you will learn those things that you came here to learn with little effort. It is only when we don’t listen to that voice, we find that our lives take mysterious twists and turns to get us back where we were meant to be.
If you do this, you will find your own meaning of success. And when you run into that high school classmate at the class reunion who is bragging about his business, his money, his new cars, his three wives and his ulcer, you will know in your heart that you have met your own standard for YOUR meaning of success, no one else’s. A sense of peace will come over you and you will know that you measure up.
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My name is Carolyn Jolly. My professional life has been in sales, marketing and IT management. Along the way I’ve been studying and experimenting with self improvement and personal development techniques for the past 20 years. I have had more than a few mind-blowing experiences and I’ve made some discoveries that have shaped my ideas. I’m now using this website to pass those ideas along.
Our world is changing very rapidly. Many of the constants and institutions we thought to be permanent are now crumbling or changing drastically. This website is dedicated to those interested in how to manage their lives in light of these changes or in just becoming a better person. I hope the information you find here will stimulate you to embark on your own voyage of motivation and self improvement.
I hope that you will find something here that interests you. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me here.