How do you become a successful person? There are two ways to approach this.
The first is to decide what success looks and feels like, and then start working to get there. Depending on your background and values, success could be owning a big home, becoming an executive, gaining the admiration of others, taking vacations, or earning large amounts of money. The problem with this approach to success is that you have set yourself up to constantly chase the next trapping of success. You judge yourself on what you have or have not obtained.
The second approach is to get to work at the things you feel bring value to your own life and that allow you to contribute to the world around you. When you do this, you obtain true success on an emotional and spiritual level. That is much more satisfying than material success.
Fleeting Success Vs. Success That Cannot be Taken Away
Material items can be taken away. Jobs can be lost, salary can be cut, homes can go into foreclosure, and the admiration of others is absolutely fleeting. In addition to this, the feelings of happiness and satisfaction that come with these things is temporary. After a time, the emotional high that comes from obtaining a new thing or getting a raise subsides. Then, you are back to where you started, until you obtain the next thing. Think about this, nearly every person who is considered to be successful by mainstream standards is at risk for a reversal of fortune. That’s not preventable.
All it takes is a scandal, a job loss, a medical issue, or any other tragedy, and a successful person is back at square one. Knowing this, ask yourself one question: Do I want to pursue the kind of success that can be taken away by factors beyond my control?
If your answer is no, you have a lot of work ahead of you. You have decided that you want to define success on your terms and pursue the kind of success that cannot be taken away. This means focusing on accomplishments and making a positive impact on the world. These are the things that cannot be taken away if your employer downsizes, or you lose your home.
Your decision isn’t going to make sense to many people. It will even frighten some of them. This is because in their view, you aren’t focusing on the right things. You don’t care about what they think should be important to you. Expect anything from mild criticism to downright negativity. That’s what happens when you carve your own path. Your next step will be figuring out how to begin.
Find The Point Where Your Talents And Passions Intersect
As you are deciding what kind of work you would like to do for the rest of your life, you’ve probably gotten a lot of well-meaning advice from people in your life. If you plan on going to college, you’ve probably been advised to pick certain majors. This has probably been done to steer you into majors that lead to careers that are stable, lucrative, and full of opportunities. If you have decided to go directly to work or learn a trade, you’re probably on the receiving end of similar advice.
Friends, guidance counselors, family members are all eager to tell you which companies to work for and which lines of work to pursue. Their reasons are the same. Salary, stability, and opportunity have become the three indicators that you are on the path to success. Personal satisfaction, contribution to the greater good, and personal growth all appear to be forgotten.
Does this mean you should just do what you enjoy? Not exactly. It means that you should find something for which you have both passion and talent. Then, do what it takes to make that your life’s work.
One great example of somebody who did just that is Jessica Ekstrom, the founder of Headbands for Hope. Jessica spent time interning with an organization that grants wishes to children with cancer. During this time, she became passionate about helping little girls maintain strong self-esteems while battling a deadly disease. When her internship was up, Jessica decided to take her talent for business and marketing and use it to pursue her newly found passion. She did this by launching Headbands for Hope, a company that produces beautiful, designer headbands for sale, and also donates headbands to children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. All you need to do is figure out where your talents can be used along with your passions.
Once that is done, roll up your sleeves, dig in, and get to work. While others are chasing after this status symbol or that status symbol and letting others tell them what makes them successful or not, you’ll be too busy doing the work that you love. Then, it will dawn on you that you have found success when you were too busy to look for it.