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Defining Success

How do you define success?

If you close your eyes, and picture a perfect life for yourself – what does it look like?

We all live in a day and age where money is touted as the yardstick for success. The more money you have, the better.

But everything has a cost.

What’s the point in having a billion dollars, if you work 112 hours a week to get it? If you’re always working, then you don’t even have the opportunity to spend it!

This is a lesson I was fortunate to learn very young.

When I was in school, I had an arch-nemesis. We’ll call him Jacob.

Jacob came from a rich family where everything was handed to him on a silver platter. To make matters worse – he was smart. Very smart. Which means I couldn’t even make myself feel better by imagining he’d end up as a washed up, drug addicted, shit kicker at 35.

So one day I was regaling my dad about how he beat me at a school award, when my dad asked a simple question. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “It’s not fair”

Dad: “Is he happy?”

Me: “Probably, I mean he won the award”

Dad: “Sure, he might be happy for the rest of the evening – but who’s happier day to day”

Me: “I dunno”

Dad: “Aren’t his parents getting divorced?”

Me: “Yeah”

Dad: “Didn’t his father just have another child with another woman?”

Me: “Yeah”

Dad: “and didn’t his mum fly away with the gardner?”

Me: “I think so…”

Dad: “Hmm…don’t know how happy I’d be if I was him”

From that day on, my thinking completely changed. I realised it didn’t matter that he got a Mercedes for his birthday, could afford the best equipment and tutors, or had his future carved out for him on easy street.

None of that matters if you’re not happy.

Now of course I have no way of knowing how happy he truly was. Perhaps he was actually very satisfied in life – but the point was made.

When you switch your yardstick from external measurements of success, to happiness, everything changes.

Look, on average, by the time we finish school, we each have around 18,000 days left to live.

By my view, having a good life means we want to spend as many of those as happy as possible. To spend those days creating, loving, and making a difference in the world.

Not spend them miserable, anxious or depressed.

With this lens on, decisions become much easier.

If you don’t enjoy working in an office, and feel like its slowly sucking your soul away – leave! Go do something you love, even if it pays less!

If you want to make a stop motion web series about the life of an ant – do it! It doesn’t matter if you don’t become wildly famous or get hailed as the next ‘Spielberg’. Simply by doing that which fulfils you, you’ve already won.

I used to wonder why everyone I knew always wanted to go on holidays – the desire simply never came to me.. Then I took an office job for a couple of months (needed the money).

Three weeks into that sucker, I was dreaming of lying on a beach in the Greek islands.

It was then I realised that holidays are just your soul dreaming of escape from the drudgery of the day to day grind.

And if you love what you’re doing everyday, then you live your whole life already happy – you don’t need to escape, you’ve already found your paradise!.

Choose a path that makes you happy. Do things that fulfil you.

Best we know, you get one life. Enjoy it, and be happy.