I did this because it’s a question I’ve recently asked myself. Seemingly a couple of others had done too as they also raised their hands. However, the vast majority of the attendees did not. Had I not recently thought about this, I most probably wouldn’t have either.
The funny thing about success is that we’re conditioned from a very young age to assume that success is measured in money and specifically “more money”. Not “some money”. Not “lots of money”. Not “£100,000”. Just more. And that’s a bit messed up in my opinion.
The ethos of the talk resonated loudly with me and without attempting to regurgitate his words (which I would most certainly not do justice to), one of the key messages was that success should not be measured solely by monetary value. That’s not to say it’s not important, I do believe money can buy happiness… but only up to a point and only in certain contexts. Once you have food, shelter and some feeling of security, it’s really worth asking yourself what’s most important to you beyond that?
It will probably be some desired lifestyle which requires some level of wealth to fulfil. But it will almost certainly be quantifiable with a bit of consideration. Do that. Define and quantify what your desired lifestyle might look like and gauge where you are against it. Also consider what you might measure success by aside from money.
When I did this, I thought back to the goals I’ve been working towards for the past 10+ years and I realised I’d actually achieved what I’d be aiming for. A business with a great team, nice working environment and delivering successful projects to large clients were all in my plan. Outside of work I have an amazing wife, my own home, the occasional holiday and a decent car. Okay, so I have mortgage, my last holiday was a bargain-bucket, last minute deal and my car is really nothing to shout about… but all good enough for my measure.
At the same conference I heard talks ranging from VCs on how they’re looking for a 10x return on their multi-million dollar investments through to individuals sharing the buzz they got when they managed to quit their job and survive long enough to release a single game. Quite the spectrum. But I do wonder if the VC-type had asked themselves what success looks like, if they’d know when they achieved it. Or if they’ll always just be frustrated that someone else has more than they do. Neither role or aspirations are right/wrong, but I definitely recommend contemplating the meaning of “success” to you.
This may all be a bit humblebraggy but let’s not forget the fact I had relatively modest goals, they did take me well over a decade to achieve and whilst I’d like to think I’m largely “self made”, I’m aware of my privilege.
I’m far from done though and have plenty more goals to work on as well as defining more non-materialistic success measures. But it’s good every now and then to stop worrying about what you haven’t achieved and spend some time reflecting on what you have.