It's funny how often we define ourselves by our successes or our perceived successes. Students will say "I'm a math person because I'm good at math." However, when you ask how they know they are good at math, answers will include "because someone told me so...because I score well on tests...etc." Our successes are often defined by what others say our successes are. A great example is in art. Art teachers will tell you that we are all artists, but few find themselves success as artists and, therefore, do not define themselves as artists.
What we find successful in ourselves directly relates to how we define ourselves. And what we find successful is often related to how others define our success. So, that means our definitions of ourselves often come from others.
I think about my own successes - or what I've thought of as my successes - and so many of them are a result of others saying I'm successful. These successes are important but they should not be our only successes.
First, you need to define what is a success to YOU. Success should also be a personal thing. It doesn't have to be related to others. In thinking about how I define success, it has to include the following:
- Personal goals - sports, work, meditation, etc.
- Trying something new
- Day well spent - family, friends, art, outdoors, sports
- Career goals - not just moving up the job ladder
- Emotional goals - how I treat others
And, we also need to think about how we treat ourselves and others we we do and don't find the successes we were hoping for. Are our goals realistic? Are we defining our successes by what others say?
I've met and worked with other suffering from depression. And, common thoughts focus on unrealistic goals and basing our self worth (or success) on others. We need to define our own success, but also make it realistic to our own abilities.
For me, success is growth. I often stray from remembering this, but on particularly difficult days, I try to remember this and ask myself: "have I grown today in some way?" And, if the answer is "yes," I have succeeded. If the answer is "no," I work harder the next day. What's also important is our reaction to failure. Failure can be a success.
I've failed in art projects numerous times. By failed - I mean the project did not come out like I wanted or like others' projects. But, this can also be a success. Some of my favorite paintings are painted on canvases that have several layers of art under them. Art can be transient. It can shift and it can change. It doesn't have to always be a failure. It can turn into something new.
Life is this way. It is also transient and it is not permanent. Success and failure are both temporary. A success can be a failure and a failure can be a success. And, one person's success can be another's failure.
As an ambitious person, I work daily on remembering that failure is not a destination nor is success. Rather, it's how we learn and act after each event. You can find your success in your failures. And, you can find failures in your successes.
I find my success when I have grown personally, emotionally, career-wise, in activities, and, in love for another. I fail often in each, but I try to remember that is only temporary. I can paint over the canvas or make something new out of it. It can lead to my success.
How do you define YOUR success? Is it tied to others or unrealistic expectations? How do you find your success?