How do you define “success?” It seems like a simple question but it can take a lifetime to figure out. Many times we view success, not by our own definition, but by what is passed on to us by parents, coaches, teachers, or other influences. This journal prompt is about building a definition specific to you.
Take a few moments to think about where you are in life and where you want to be. You can use the classic “Rocking Chair Drill” and imagine yourself, at 90 years old, sitting in a rocking chair and looking back at your life. What would make you look back on your life and feel successful? Is it family, friends, money, helping others, or inventing something revolutionary? From that point, you begin to break it down to the lowest level.
If you are picturing yourself looking back on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, what about that award made you feel successful? Was it the external praise, the good you did for humanity, or the lasting legacy? If it is having a large family, what about that made you feel successful? The passing on of your bloodline? The relationships? The memories that you were able to make?
Next, now that you know which attributes of those larger events made you feel successful, look at where you are in life now and look for ways you can develop those avenues. If the key aspect of having a family was the relationships and being able to pass on your knowledge while making memories, perhaps you can look into volunteering and mentoring.
Although we might look at large events as the things that will make us feel successful, usually those are made up of many smaller variables that we can control in other ways. Most likely I will never win the Nobel Peace Prize, and I am slowly accepting that realization, and I am long past my prime so my lofty aspirations of hoisting the Stanley Cup over my head as the Captain of the Philadelphia Flyers is slightly out of reach, but I can still work to leave humanity and the world better than I found it. I can still look back on my time playing hockey and say that I truly gave it my absolute best and because I know what it was about those lofty goals that would make me feel successful, I am able to still realize and highlight those attributes in other areas of my life.
Our minds might tell us that unless our name is in lights we will not be successful, but ultimately, we are looking for a way to give back. How do YOU define success? Does it contrast to how your parents, coaches, or teachers defined it for you? Is there a melding of definitions from all of your influences growing up and your own ideas now? Now is the time to make it yours. Write it out and mark the page, check back on it every year or two to see if your definition has changed.
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