Do it for the Honey and not the Money

What does success mean to you? Which standards or guidelines does your personal definition of success abide by? And more importantly, why is that? Where did those guidelines originate from?

I remember being stumped by this question the first time I was asked it, because I couldn’t think of any other measures beyond financial success. I mean I was pretty young, so I recognize my limited ability to expand on it deeper, but I also know and remember that when I was really young, every year on my birthday when getting ready to blow out the candles, I would always wish to be happy. Beyond my early fantasies and wishful thinking for a pony, and not even knowing why I wanted one — maybe simply because all the little girls on TV and movies would say it, I figured that’s was something I needed too — that was my ultimate goal. Probably from as early as the age eleven or twelve onwards, every year my only wish was to grow up and be happy. So, when I couldn’t come up with any means of successfulness beyond monetary achievements, I really had to look within and redefine what my understanding of success was. And that’s what brought me to my question; what success means to you? It totally makes sense that most of us would automatically turn to what we do for a living as a measure of success. Or how big our house is or how many _____ we own (you can fill in that blank in with anything), because we live in a capitalist society where all of our systems function around money. I feel that this creates an unhealthy relationship with money, in which we are forced to always strive towards getting more, and if we don’t we’re deemed as lazy, incapable, or unintelligent. But what is the point of money beyond using it as a means to live a decent life? Once that is achieved, what else is it good for? It can definitely help with accessing quality care and treatment, but it won’t give one a perfect immune system. Yes, it can be a major factor that determines whether one will be able to live comfortably and happily, but only up to a certain point. The shocking amounts of deaths by suicide from celebrities and millionaires is proof of that. So, if we didn’t live in a capitalist society (wishful thinking), what would your standards of success be measured by?

I feel that whatever your answer is should be your standards no matter what type of society we live in. There’s no linear path to success; two people who have traveled vastly different roads could end up in the exact same place, and proclaiming that one was better than the other wouldn’t really have a point because they’re both in the same place now anyway. And chances are that at some point in our lives, we’ll be working at a job that we don’t really love, which I think is fine. I don’t think every single person on this planet is going to find or create a career for themselves that is perfectly aligned with what their passions are. If they do, amazing. But separating work life from home life is a valuable skill to learn, and when we’re doing work that is what we absolutely love, it’s easier for those lines to become blurred, and chances are we’ll start bringing our work home with us, and maybe it’ll even affect our life at home. Furthermore, not everyone even wants to spend the better half of their life building a career or working towards a specific goal, and that’s perfectly fine too, in my opinion. Forcing people (more specifically, children) to find an interest in something from a very limited range of options sets us up for failure, because if we don’t like any of them or are not excelling in those subjects in school, we’re going to feel like a failure, without even being given the opportunity to fully explore what brings us joy in this world. A child or young adult experiencing this will constantly feel like something is wrong with them, because they will see all their peers doing it and receiving praise and accolades for doing so. I definitely felt a bit of this post-graduation, and not because of what anyone else was saying to me, but because that’s how my mind was trained to think for my whole ass life.

Most of us will tolerate high levels of stress in pursuing our goals and dreams, because of the notion that happiness will come after all the bullshit. But I think this couldn’t be further from the truth, because if our whole lives are spent chasing something while being in a state of unhappiness during the process, how could we even know what being happy feels like for us. Whatever point we get to, whatever achievement we make, we’ll already be looking for the next thing to strive towards, and that creates an unfulfilled life because it’s coming from a place of lack. We wouldn’t even know what it looks like or what to do in order to get happy after the fact, because all self-discovery was limited to a certain extent or only existed within one rigid frame of mind. It’s okay to not love your job. It’s okay to not want to put all of your effort into your career. Our lives are worth more than what we are worth to our employers. Our capitalist society may view us as literal dollar amounts that we bring to the company, but we should never view our own worth in this way. Selling our time in exchange for currency may always be a necessity. Where we are selling our minutes, our hours, our weeks, our years to a corporation as a means to survive; I hate that it’s this way, but I literally have no other choice. And for some people, it’ll always only be just that, a job; a consistent pay-check so they are able to get on and do what they want to do.

To me, the dude that dropped out of high school and the boss woman earning seven figures are equally as successful if they have both managed to find happiness in this life. The single parent who sacrificed all their dreams to raise their children and the person with a Ph.D are no different. The person who travels to another country every month and the person who has never left their hometown or even boarded a plane are the same. There is no real definition for success because the answers will be different to everyone and the answers will change at different points in our lives. What made you happy ten years ago may no longer make you happy today, and you have every right to change whatever you need to in order to find that joy again. So long as you are still breathing, it’s never too late to start again. And as long as you find happiness in what you do, you’re successful. Learning new ways to manage your levels of stress is a success. Overcoming the hardships of life and events you’ve been faced with makes you successful. Having the strength to confront the life you’re living and choosing to begin again by leading one that is more fulfilling is successful. We’re all forever students and life is our eternal teacher, there is no end goal, because we’ll never be finished learning; there will always be more to learn about ourselves and the world.

This may sound dramatic, but it’s just how my brain operates… it could all end right now — everything that we know could literally come to an end at any given moment, but it’s a miracle that it doesn’t, so why prolong finding happiness? Why wait? All that’s promised is right now. Just continue to succeed at whatever you are doing in this moment in time.

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