In the millennial world, there are infinite variables of success that we aspire to. Whether that’s a certain level of Instagram exposure, a particular look or body type, or even the number of 0’s on the end of your bank account – we all have our own measures of validation, of success, of ‘happiness’.
Health gurus and lifestyle coaches suggest that happiness is the only measure of true success. But how do you measure ‘happy’? I might be hungry, tired, broke – but extraordinarily happy in love. I might be single, rich and beautiful, but I might be most happy when out surfing with old friends. Or perhaps, I’m struggling with my mental health and ‘happy’ is a long way off. I might measure success as simply being ok for a day.
Similarly unmeasurable; a trainer or fitness influencer might suggest that being body confident or physically healthy and fit is ‘success’. What if I’m a veteran who’s returned from duty with a life-changing injury – am I incapable of success because I don’t meet society’s ‘ideal’ body standards. What if I’ve just given birth and lifting a weight is, at least a short-term, impossibility? What if I am anyone who’s experienced incredible physical hardship and pulled through it, changed. I might feel successful about my body for non-aesthetic or health-related reasons. I might feel that I have a successful body purely because it’s kept me alive.
A growth specialist, wealth manager or financial advisor might suggest that success is denoted by the cheques you cash and the equity you possess. Does that mean that a single mother who’s made a stable living for herself and her children, is not ‘successful’ because she is not ‘rich’ or doesn’t own her own home? Does that mean that a multi-million figure CEO who lives alone and suffers from severe stress is successful? Again, even success by numbers is hard to measure.
What makes each of us ‘successful’, is completely relative.
Yes, I’d say that being healthy, confident in my appearance, wealthy and happy (however we measure that) – would give me a sense of success. However, I suggest that there is a universal way that we can measure our success level. How authentic are you? Can you go to sleep at night without worry, knowing that you did the right thing – or at least, you did what you felt was right? Holding your own integrity and authenticity as paramount means that no matter what the outcome of a decision is, you can stand back and say ‘it
doesn’t matter because I did what I felt was right’. In business, or in your personal life, you may choose to say something that doesn’t produce the outcome that you wished it to – but I find it extremely comforting to know that I was unapologetically me. The responsibility for the outcome of my life lies with the cosmos (or fate, or your faith – however you chose to depict it).
Many times in my life I have spoken out or stuck up for something or someone that I believe in. On occasion, that has made me some enemies and even lost me some friends. But, no matter if I’m poor, rich, struggling with work or stressed to the max, I can look at myself in the mirror and say ‘good job’.
So, can it be measured? Success, I mean. Measurable metrics may not necessarily make you feel successful – I’m looking at you Instagram stats, body stats, and IQ tests! How much money you have in the bank may not make you feel successful in other aspects of your life. Grading and interrogating your happiness levels do not help you find success.
In fact, it’s as easy as this. Look at yourself at the end of every day and ask yourself if followed your heart today. Did you adhere to your true values? Did you positively enact on your passion and purpose? Did you help or hurt someone else’s? The answer will bring you either a feeling of regret or the deepest sense of success I believe there is.