Success Is What You Decide It Is

People want to succeed.  Sometimes they do many right things but do not achieve success.  One reason is that they have done something wrong.

There is another.  They failed to define success correctly in the beginning.  Here is an example of how success definition is personally gratifying.  It came my way from

Finish What You Start

Someone sent me an article that said the way to achieve inner peace is to finish things you’ve started. It is definitely working for me.

I am now making a point of always finishing what I start, and I think I am well on my way toward finding inner peace. Because I care for you, I am passing this wisdom on to you.

Here are the things that I have finished today:

– Two bags of potato chips,
– a strawberry cheesecake,
– a package of Oreos,
– a bottle of wine, and
– a large box of chocolates.

I think this really works because I feel better already.

The purpose of success is to achieve in a way that suits your personal needs.  It is not  success to achieve what others want for you.  It is not success to set goals that are Bart-Simpson-like.  “No Simpson ever gives up before he has tried something easy.”

Success is like an onion.  You must traverse many layers to finish.

Complex precise goals are usually self-defeating.  Many people fail by beginning with something too carefully designed.  The future is not high-def.  Some details are invisible in the beginning.  Success is evolutionary.

Success includes meaning.  Sometimes a goal is bigger than it needs to be.  Craig McCaw has claimed that you can live as well with four billion dollars as you can with twelve.  What should you give up to get the other eight?

The hard question is to define success so that it matters to you and has meaning in your life.  Here is a question to puzzle.

“Will I be a success if I achieve all my goals?”

Maybe there is a better success that says, I have accomplished many goals, but I am not yet finished with this one.  When I finish it, I expect to find an even bigger one before me.

Humans are goal seeking and problem solving beings.  They are diminished if they ever finish seeking success.


Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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