Thoughts, affirmations, and messages of encouragement; our counselors share insights into the many elements that combine to make a "whole and healthy you."
How Do You Define Success?
by Mary Riposo, LPCC
What does success look like for you?
How do you define it and what would you need to see in your life to tell you that you’ve achieved it? We may not always be consciously thinking about how we’re measuring our success or even if the success we’ve found or created is something that truly reflects our own values.
This is something that can be explored and clarified through counseling to create a more aligned, fulfilling, and sustainable life for ourselves.
In my office, I often hear many people who are caught in the trap of comparison. Some people are constantly looking to others’ achievements, and feel that they are failing. This is the road that can be called “compare and despair”.
I have often found myself on that same road. So how do we pull ourselves off and course correct? I believe it has to do with digging deep to discover what truly embodies and creates a sense of meaning in your life.
This will not look the same for everyone and this also requires that we allow those differences and do not judge them as better or worse. Ultimately, adopting others’ definition of success is not going to create an internal sense of satisfaction or quality of life for us. It seems that many people I speak with do manage to attain a level of success that is validated and even praised by others only to wonder why they have arrived at this point still having a sense of discontent.
We are all influenced by the values that have been displayed and expressed by our families, schools, friend groups, faith communities, and society as a whole. The difficulty can come when we self-reflect and identify that our own personal beliefs and values do not, in fact, align to those we have grown up with. It takes a certain amount of courage and skill to express this and begin the work of creating a life that truly embodies these fundamental aspects of who we are.
This work can be done together with a therapist who can assist you with tools such as a values clarification inventory. This simple exercise can help increase insight and awareness around the concepts that are most important to you as well as help to walk you through the steps required to implement this knowledge in the most effective way.
Consider this story, by Paulo Coelho:
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village. As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite a few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and when evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a Ph.D. in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, and set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
There are many paths to what may be the same end, that of finding satisfaction and meaning. It is my hope that you will allow yourself to follow the path that not only takes you to the destination YOU choose but that you will also find joy in the journey. Posted in Success