“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan
Wow. Way to lower the bar Bob.
I had a therapist once that might agree with Bob. This therapist insisted that I needed to not be so hard on myself. He claimed I expected too much of myself. You see, I do expect a lot from myself. At that time, I was finishing college, working a full time job, raising a family and being a great wife. My argument was that if I didn’t expect a lot out of myself then I would never be successful.
His general idea was that every once in a while I needed to cut myself some slack. At that time, to me, cutting myself some slack was just an excuse for being a slacker. I was quite the perfectionist and I wanted to do everything not just right but best. Being determined and perfectionistic are great for succeeding in certain aspects of life but not all.
Years later, I have learned that perfection, while admirable, is not always possible or best. Aiming for perfection is not the same as giving something your all. Sometimes, your best just isn’t good enough. Sometimes your best isn’t as good as someone else’s. It is a simple fact of life that there will always be someone who is smarter, faster, better looking, stronger, better dressed, more organized, more motivated, more important, wealthier, nicer, more patient, more creative, funnier or more well liked or even hated more than you.
The key, the fundamental truth, to success is actually very simple. Success is a subjective term. It means different things to different people. For some, happiness is equivalent to success. For others, wealth and material possessions equate success. You must define for yourself what success means. You cannot be successful in life if you are attempting to achieve someone else’s ideas of success. You can set such success as your goal and even achieve it but in your mind, it will still not be enough because it is not your idea of success.
So what then, is success? Is it a feeling? Is it a social status? Is it completing all of one’s goals? It can be whatever you want it to be, even if that is just making it through another day. I’ve had some episodes of depression where just waking up in the morning and getting out of bed for a few minutes was a major success. For those who have never been there, I don’t expect you to understand. I’ve also had some times where it feels like I’m on top of the world, where everything is going my way and I am succeeding at all my endeavors. Such is everyone’s life. Life is full of ups and downs.
In your quest for success, you will encounter failure. Me, I have never let a little failure keep me from trying again. I have also had my fair share of not so great reactions to failure. Personally, I like to throw food at it. I have smoothie stains on the ceiling liner in my truck to prove it. I don’t recall what started the problem I just remember that I was losing the argument and I had a drink holder full of Smoothie King smoothies in my lap. I threw the smoothies and they splattered all over the inside of the truck. My therapist’s response when I related the incident, “That’s terrible… Smoothie King has such great smoothies. What a waste.”
When I think about being successful, do I consider myself a success? Well, by Bob Dylan’s standards – absolutely. By Bill Gates standards, probably not. According to my cat – she can’t be bothered to give an opinion but according to my dog – definitely. None of those opinions truly matter, however, the only one that matters is mine. Am I successful, well yeah.
Do I still have some things I want to accomplish in life, of course. Have I made mistakes in my past, of course. Are there things I could do better in life, probably. All of those things contribute to make me who I am. I like who I am. I’m a pretty all around good person. But if I’m holding a smoothie –
Don’t tick me off.