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
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.
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:
“There is no wealth but life”
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