Many people begin new years by thinking ahead, envisioning what they want to achieve, and perhaps even resolving to make different choices in the days and weeks to come. I am one of these people. I find this experience enlivening, joyful, and helpful in grounding myself solidly for the unknown of the future.
Some people, however, find such visioning and resolution-setting to be a negative experience. Perhaps they’ve done it before and “failed.” Or they might fear that their reach will not exceed their grasp and failure will be their booby prize. Maybe yet they find it difficult to picture a semi-distant future and thus refrain from thinking any further ahead than absolutely necessary.
Success or Failure
The larger issue in my mind as I write is that visioning and planning are intricately linked with our own ideas about success and failure. Daily, from the moment we’re born, we’re given messages about succeeding and failing, doing well and doing poorly, being right and being wrong. Because this is the water in which we swim, it takes many of us years to even realize that these ideas aren’t concrete, immutable realities, but are rather merely human judgments. These ideas can end up being applied within a great many areas of life, from daily activities, to much larger concepts, like how well we might be doing in our career. While I believe that there are many widely-held values (compassion, fairness, honesty, etc.) and thus much consensus about what it means to succeed or fail, I think that it’s dangerous to the soul to navigate life’s waters using any “standardized” definitions.
- Decide for yourself what a life successfully lived will look, feel, and be like.
- Get clear on the values you hold dear and are willing to live by.
- Let go of any societal, familial, or cultural demands that don’t really fit who you believe you were made to be.
- Refuse to pass judgment on others since you’re not really an “all-knowing” god-human.
To close this post, I offer a video I found to be most intriguing and thought-provoking. I hope you’ll give Mr. de Botton a listen and consider what his ideas mean for your life. Whether or not you vision for the year ahead, I wish you the greatest success, joy, and love that matters to you.
“Perhaps theyâ€™ve done it before and â€œfailed.â€”
Sure they have, they need to look at this as a positive in my opinion however. Can’t remember who said it but the saying goes something like this:
“If you want to multiply your successes, you have to multiply your failures.”
I’m on the path of personal development, and happened to stumble upon your post.
Whenever I hear the question, “How do you define success?” I always think, “Geez…there are so many ways to do so.”
It’s good that you mentioned values in this post. Because before you have a definition of success, I think you need to know what your true values are.
From your values, you can determine what your successes are.
Here’s an example:
For a person who values community and family, success might be defined as contributing to the community and raising a great family, with children who, themselves, contribute to the community.
So, if I had to define success, I think that’s one workable, practical, and worthy definition: knowing your values and working toward them.
I agree with Chris. Some people have already encountered so many mistakes in their life to the point that they have already lost hope. But success comes after failure so I think they just need to keep learning from their mistakes and stay positive because it will just be a matter of time before they reach success.
Love the post, but I always reflect on the term failure. The connotation is not really what we need to address. I love point one
“â€¢Decide for yourself what a life successfully lived will look, feel, and be like.”
Everyone has a view, even a vague one, about how they would like their life to be. It will not always be the case, but that is not necessarily a failure. Part of the joy for success is in the pursuit. If you make a choice which does not lead to your vision of success, then you have learned something more about yourself and your life’s quest. That is not a failure but rather a situation which allows you to reflect and probably help clarify what your target really is.
Just as experiencing success makes you happy, not experiencing success will help you focus on what is improtant to you.
Hi Will. Thanks for your comment. I agree that “failure,” like “success” are arbitrary terms. Knowing what success means to us personally allows us to know if our results are getting us closer to that mark (“succeeding”) or further from it (“failing”). Thus “failing” is a very useful and positive experience, not the think to avoid (which is how most people typically approach it).