I Am Sick With ‘Success’. Are You?
As a generation, we need to re-define what it means to “make it.”
It seems that no matter where you turn, everywhere you’ll see articles on “becoming successful” or, slightly more vague version of it — “making it.”
We use these terms as if we’ve all agreed on the same definition of what “success” really means.
I am sure that if we follow the notions of success that are predetermined for us, there’s very little chance we’ll actually get there.
But if we come up with our own version of what success means, letting go of the need to prove anything to anyone, we just might.
Where Are You Going?
Ask any twenty-year-old fifty years ago, and they would say, “I am on my way to pick up my girlfriend and take her to the movies!”
“I am on my way to becoming an ultra-millionaire.”
There’s something terribly wrong with us.
What’s Wrong With Millenials
Two things: we are impatient, and we’re narcissistic.
We’re impatient because the whole world around us is fast. You use the same brain to order anything you want from Amazon and build careers. Your brain is not a car — it can’t switch gears that easily.
We’re narcissistic because everything we see online is about other people — and their successes. We feel we need to have our voice there too. We feel an urge to become the big successes we’ve always read about.
“I am here too!” we scream, longing to be noticed.
Three Lies We Tell Ourselves
There are three lies that online media is feeding us.
- Lie 1: that we have everything to become famous, rich, and glamorous.
- Lie 2: that we will become successful — and it’s just a matter of time.
- Lie 3: that this is what we want.
None of this is true.
Not everyone has what they need to become successful — by other people’s standards. Not everyone will become successful; life gets in the way. And not everyone wants to become successful.
All we need is to come up with our version of success to let go of these lies.
And focus on internal goals.
What’s Your Version of Success?
When the 21-year-old Marie Forleo was told that she had to marry and get a “stable job,”; she didn’t blindly listen.
Instead, she asked herself, “Well, if that’s what you need to become successful, why don’t I just change my definition of success?”
Perhaps, your success is not being the next Kim Kardashian or GaryVee.
Perhaps, it’s not even filthy rich.
Perhaps, it’s not giving TED talks or having all your external goals met.
Perhaps, it’s something internal, something that nobody can take away from you.
Your inner harmony.
Success Is Giving Yourself To Yourself
I am not immune to the problems of my generation.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am full of entitlement, laziness, narcissism, and jealousy towards everyone I see on social media.
This is why I don’t use social media anymore. It makes me sick.
But as I grow older (I am 22 to be 23), my attitude towards success (and other people) changes.
- When I was 14, I thought that “success” meant being the United States president. (I guess I was not the only one.)
- When I was 18, I thought “success” meant being a billionaire.
- When I was 20, I thought “success” meant being a millionaire, but having a yacht.
And if you’ve asked me what my version of success is now, it stopped being about money or external achievements.
Something has changed.
Now, I want to be like Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
My success is being able to say, “I am exactly the man I was supposed to be.”
Michel de Montaigne put it differently,
“The purpose of life is to give yourself to yourself.”
In Praise Of The Mediocre Life
Some fifty years ago, the funniest thing was that people were afraid to die — or not have enough money to pay the rent or feed themselves.
Our biggest fear is being called mediocre.
I do therapy. And there’s such thing as “exposure therapy”: that’s where you expose yourself to your fears. If you’re afraid of spiders, they give you a spider to hold. If you’re afraid of water, you go to the ocean.
How about our generation embraces a mediocre life?
- You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You’re free!
- You can live in your parents’ basement.
- You can pursue your true interests.
- You have less stress.
So on, so forth.
But most importantly — what you call “mediocre” is not that mediocre at all.
A Little Perspective
Did you know that half of the world population doesn’t have access to the Internet?
This means, if you’re reading these words — you’re already in the top-1% of the world population.
What we call “mediocre” is actually the top achievement for 3.5 billion people on this planet.
You should be grateful.
Why Can’t You Do It Now?
In Off-Balance, a book about the lack of work-life balance, there’s a short story at the beginning that keeps coming to mind many years after I’ve first read that book.
A successful businessman meets a poor fisherman by the sea.
They sit close, watching the waves splash on the sand, and the fisherman asks, “Why do you do what you do? Why do you work so much?”
The businessman replies, “Because I want to make money, retire, and spend my days sipping wine, watching the sunset. Can’t you understand?”
The fisherman looks puzzled and says, “Call me weird, but this is exactly what I do every day.”
Perhaps your success costs less than you think.
It’s almost Halloween.
Let’s all go to the cemetery and put a Rest In Peace sign. Let’s bury Success and plant a tree in its honor.
Once we are done and brush the dust off ourselves, let’s develop our own version of success.
What do we want to achieve? What do we want our life to be about? What big problems do we want to solve? Who do we want to serve? What do we care about?
Because you’ve been scammed. Brainwashed. Both.
What you thought of as “success” weren’t even your ideas — they were someone else’s, put in your brain.
The call to action is this: let’s go back to simplicity and remember what life was supposed to be really about.
- Satisfaction from knowing that you’ve got some meaningful work done today.
- Strong, loving relationships.
No matter how much you are willing to pay, you can’t order these on Amazon.