Success is In The Eye Of The Beholder


From a very early age, we are “programmed” for success. Schools and parents teach us what they believe are the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the world. Our mastering of those tasks was measured with a grading system that clearly defined our progress. 

Religions have rules for keeping us on the straight and narrow to help ensure our passage into an eternal life filled with joy and love. Where we worked certainly had clearly laid out paths to success within the organization. Stay on task you will do well. Falter and you may be replaced was the clear message given to us all.

Running your own business had the measurement of achievement: money. Make enough and you succeed. Spend more than you make and fail.

Notice anything obvious about these parameters that attempt to measure success? They all come from external sources. Your performance is judged by someone else, using very different determinations.

Some are within your control, but many are not. You are judged by another person or system that is independent of your skills and talents, wants, and needs.

If nothing else, retirement frees you from this cycle of judgement, imposed on you by others. Now, what qualifies as success is defined by you. Being unique means quite simply: only you know what success feels like.

In fact, the whole idea of success in retirement is so singular that I can’t offer my opinions or thoughts on the subject. So, I found a list from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  All the things on his list are not likely to fit your needs.

What if might do, though, is prompt you into some serious contemplation about yourself and feeling worthy and complete. Are you still allowing others to build a box that you are being urged to inhabit?

Consider the following:

 What is Success?

  1. To laugh often and much;
  2. To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
  3. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
  4. To appreciate beauty;
  5. To find the best in others;
  6. To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
  7. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived

Rather than external markers, this list, and any you generate measures success in life using your ruler, your measuring device,  your sense of completeness and accomplishment.

Think about it.