Let me make this clear at the onset, I am not against unbridled ambition. In fact, I admire ambitious people with gaping awe, especially the ones who have a laser focus to achieve what they are after.
My point is – success is overrated and is a twisted, misunderstood concept. What is success?
Like a friend once said to me, “One may be climbing two rungs at a time, putting in all the efforts in the world, but what if it is the wrong wall the ladder is leaning on?” Who decides your wall? Market? Competition? Family? Society? Nope. YOU do!
When was the last time you defined your success? Don’t go by other people’s idea of your success. Think – what will it take for you to hang up your boots, reach out for those beach chairs and enjoy your retirement? What will make you feel – I have arrived (or I can depart happily now, whichever gate you are closer to)?
The answer could very well be never – as you could be one of those ‘enjoying the journey’ types who would love to work till their last breath. Or it could be working till 60 whether I am a manager or a CEO. Or it could be anything at all. But have you thought about it?
Once you know what you are after, go for it but don’t be too hard on yourself. Because the biggest success for anybody and everybody, beyond doubt, is to be able to enjoy life every moment.
A friend of mine quit her high profile job after a sudden realisation due to a personal crisis. “We think we want more of this and we need more of that. You know what I have more of now? Time!” she smiles. And since she loves to rub it in, she goes on, “I am going to Goa tomorrow, you know why? Because I can!” and she laughs that adorable laughter. Her definition of success is to be able to use her time for self growth and causes she is passionate about, bringing positive changes at a societal level.
I have seen people do farming in remote villages after being CEOs of various companies. Maybe that was their definition of success – to be able to farm peacefully after having built so many organisations from scratch (and having a certain amount of cash in the bank). For women especially, success can have many parameters, encompassing various aspects of their multifaceted lives and roles. Of course, the definition can change from time to time as well. The idea is to be aware and in charge and not let life happen to you by chance.
Do you know what your success looks like? Because if you don’t, you won’t know it even if it punched you in the face. And you’ll be working all your life. What’s the point?
The other day I read about this young, brilliant and promising guy who allegedly took his life due to work pressure at the age of 22. There was no one to remind him that there are people who don’t work at big investment firms and still are living and happy. “Perhaps this is not the idea of your success, buddy!” I wish somebody could have told him that. Once you know what you are after, go for it but don’t be too hard on yourself. Because the biggest success for anybody and everybody, beyond doubt, is to be able to enjoy life every moment.
If it isn’t making you happy, it ain’t for you!