How do you define success?

children

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are doing a lot of things, but still unsure of where you want to go? In that case you are not alone, and you may recognise yourself in the famous episode in Alice in Wonderland:

– Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

– That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

– I don’t much care where.

– Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

                                                                ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

For most people it is not as they are going in any random direction, it is more that they are all going in a direction that has been defined by traditions, contemporary contexts, and societal expectations, rather than the direction they themselves have truly chosen.

When I grew up in Sweden in the 1970s and 1980s, you went to high school, and then after a year in military service (only for young men at the time), you either took a job or went to university, and eventually got that job four or five years later. You married, bought a house, had children and made a career. Success was measured in the size of your income, price of your car and location of your house. Even those initially being radical and questioning the norms, eventually adapted and followed the set path.

Nothing wrong with a nice car, a comfortable house, and an income that allows you to live without financial worries, but for most people these are not the things that year after year will get you up every morning with a smile on your face and make your steps lighter and day brighter. Along your life journey you will therefore need to constantly redefine what success is for you.

We all need something to strive for, something enjoyable yet challenging, but this something should be based on your own individual wishes and priorities. This will allow you to measure your success according to your own criteria; breaking your personal running record, mastering that challenging piece of music, finding a novel item for your hobby collection, identifying a new bird species, catching that fish, doing something for the benefit of others or whatever else makes your heart sing.

Whatever your success is about, it is only you that could define it, and only once you have defined it you will know which way to go.

Photo: Pixabay.com – sasint

svensk_flagga   Detta blogginlägg på svenska

Author: Karl Ekdahl

International public health leader and creativity blogger.

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