Defining Success

img_3215I used to define success as my father did – it meant a good education which led to a good (read ‘well paying’) job, living in a big house with your spouse and 2 kids who would then go on to do higher education and get a good job so they could look after you in your old age.

Then that definition changed over the years to something more like – making a living out of what you really enjoy doing.

But now I realise that true success is feeling good about whatever it is you’re doing. It means being content. It means prioritising life in order to fill your days with the things that count …. family and sharing and love and friendships and giving and time out. It means living a well-balanced, not ‘busy’ life, being grateful and happy and at peace with your now so that tomorrow is not something to dread.

A year away puts life into perspective. It definitely slowed us down enough that we were able to realise that the acquisition of dollars and stuff was in no way as important as building relationships and living a life today that defines our tomorrow. We had time to learn that ‘busy’ was an overused word in our vocabulary that had become an excuse for not doing the things that made our lives truly joyful and meaningful.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver)

This morning I was thinking of the word ‘eternity’. It, like the words ‘forever’, ‘future’ and ‘tomorrow’ has this gauzy, flimsy, airy almost unreal feel about it. It feels like there’s plenty of time till I get there!

In contrast the words ‘today’ and ‘now’ and ‘minute’ have sharp edges, and hard corners and a sense of harshness to how they feel on my tongue and in my very being. There is an urgency that comes with these words and a sense of time fleeting that sits very uncomfortably with me. One of my pet hates is the sound of a ticking clock. It makes me feel like my life is disappearing one tick tock at a time. It makes me feel on edge and jittery and unrelaxed.

But as everyone around me is beginning to hit the big five-oh, I realise the inevitability of reaching so great a number, and that then 60 is next! (insert a silent scared scream here). What happened since I was a happy-go-lucky 20 year old? The intervening years seem to have just melted away in the pursuit of life with hardly any time spent to just stop and evaluate.

I don’t want that to be what I say about my next few years on this earth. I want to make sure that I lived a good and meaningful life. A ‘successful’ life. Whether you believe in an eternity or not, whether you believe in a God or not, we should be engaging with ‘today’ with a vengeance. We should be valuing and investing time into our relationships, living a life that is fueled by a sense of meaning, giving of ourselves to others and ensuring a daily sense of peace. Living a conscious, grateful life.

“Imagine immensities … don’t compromise. Start now. Start now, every single day.”
(Debbie Millman)

Life isn’t always simple or easy, but it is truly incredible to be here. For me, I want to put more value on my todays (the very moments of each day) and live them conciously, with a sense of urgency; so that my future (or eternity if you like) is something to look forward to with a peace and a joy, with a certainty that I’ve done enough and that I’ve been enough.

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