This optional, extra credit question is for any face-to-face class that I teach.  A good response will add up to ten points on your final exam test score. Prepare your response at home (typed, double-spaced) and bring it with you to the final class.  My evaluation is mostly subjective.  I look for depth of insight, genuineness, and length - the longer the better.


It is often easy to "lose sight of the forest for the trees" and become too embroiled in the details of a subject.  For example, economists assume that “more is better” and this often gets culturally translated to mean that those who make a lot of money are winners (successful) and those who don’t are losers.  I think there are many ways to be successful without making a fortune.  So an obvious question is: how does material welfare contribute to your personal notion of success?  The response to this question involves a clarification of personal values as well as an appreciation for the way in which we use our time.  Time (or life) is the most valuable asset any of us possess. 
     Do you prefer to work with people, things, or data?  What goals have you established for yourself?   What do you get from work, other than money?  If you were on your deathbed, how would you evaluate the "success" of your life?  What "things" make you happy?  How can you maximize the frequency of the "good things" and minimize the "bad things"?   How might these responses relate to a career plan?

      An alternative approach to the issue of success involves making a list of things that you absolutely love to do (the more specific the better).  Rank order your top five or ten choices.  Place a dollar ($) sign next to each item if it costs more than $50 to do the activity. You may need to pro-rate the cost, acknowledging that any equipment may last for several years.  Note the last time you did the activity.  Also note if you do it with others, or if you do it spontaneously.  Are there any patterns?  This list should provide insight into the things that provide zest to your life.  How do these zestful activities relate to your notion of success?

     Another approach to the notion of success involves your passions in life.  How would you define a "passion"?    Do you have any?  If so, describe them.  If not, how might that relate to money?  Is money the real issue?  What other things hold you back?

     Victor Frankl, a former concentration camp prisoner, writes that when fellow inmates lost the will to live, they would die shortly thereafter.  What things are you living for? How might these responses relate to your notion of success?

     There is still another way to think about success; I call it a "Lesson in Life."  We all have developed tentative hypotheses about the way life works.  Three of mine are:

          Robins eat worms--meaning that life is sometimes not fair, but                nevertheless, it is the way things are.
          My friends are my salvation--meaning that friendships are important                for me.
          My word is my bond--meaning that I value my integrity, etc. 

Make a list of your "Lessons" to see how they relate to your notion of success.

      A final way to evaluate your notion of success involves the lottery.  Suppose you won a million dollars.  How would that change your life?  Would you continue to work?  Why or Why not?   In this scenario, what would become important in your life?  Suppose you won twenty million?  Or one hundred million?  Would your responses differ substantially from winning one million?  How does any of this information relate to your personal notion of success?

I have suggested five different ways to ask the same question:

  1.   Things I Love To Do
  2.   Passions In Life
  3.   Things I Am Living For
  4.   Lessons In Life
  5.   If I Won A Million Dollars
How does material welfare contribute to your personal notion of success?  What is the relation between wealth and your personal welfare?  The question requests that you assess the true importance of materialism in your cultural lifestyle.  How important an ingredient is money in your assessment of success?

“There is no wealth but life”
John Ruskin

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