I’ve been chewing on this question in my mind for a while as I analyze my journey through life thus far as a 28 year old man.
“What does the road to success really look like?”
It is a tough question to answer because evaluating your own trajectory in life is difficult to do and there is no “one size fits all” sort of method that can conclusively tell you when you’ve made it in life. I’d venture to guess that most of us if not all of us, want to experience success in life.
The dictionary definition for success is:
“a degree or measure of succeeding” as well as a “favorable or desired outcome.” Seems simple enough, right?
However, I think the majority of folks who contemplate this question often are not prepared for the challenge that they will face in seeking to find a proper answer.
Perhaps you have achieved some success in your own life this far in your career, or some of your personal goals and dreams. For me, I think my biggest success so far has been to graduate college and earn my Bachelor’s degree.
Where Is the Ceiling on Success?
The interesting thing about a “road to success” is that, there is always another bend up ahead for you to travel on. Consider someone like Bill Gates.
Bill Gates founded Microsoft and is one of the most-wealthy individuals on the planet. By all means and measure, Bill Gates is the idea of success fully realized and more. He has conquered every mountain that he has wanted to climb in his life.
Bill Gates had a vision that few are able to realize back when he founded Microsoft Corp in 1975:
“Ultimately, the PC will be a window to everything people are interested in- and everything we need to know.” – Bill Gates
His work in computing has shifted the entire dynamic of our culture and is reflected in the rise to prominence that we’ve seen in the tech industry at large. Microsoft and Bill Gates paved the way for Apple, Google, Amazon, and more!
Has he stopped working now that he has reached what anyone could point to as success? No, if anything now he works even harder to achieve meaningful change in the world!
Failure Is Part of the Recipe to Success
In considering the road to success, one has to first come to understand that failure is a part of the equation. It is through our failures and miscues that we learn lessons about life and the pursuit of betterment within that life.
Each time we are knocked down by the circumstances of life, we have an important decision to make. You can choose to get up and keep trying, or to give up and stay down and out.
I believe it is monumentally important that you become comfortable with failure if you ever decide that you want to seek out “real” success. Why?
Because not even professional MLB players have a perfect record when it comes to taking big swings. You can’t hit a home-run each time you go to bat. But if you keep swinging, then the home-runs will materialize over time!
Each failure then becomes something valuable for the individual who is looking to walk down the road towards success. It isn’t a setback, but an effective lesson. Each time you miss the target, you’ve learned something important that will contribute towards your next success.
Appreciate the Grind
The next important aspect to consider when contemplating the road to success, is to not just focus on your end goal throughout that process of pursuit. You also must take the time and energy to enjoy the journey.
The “getting there” is more than half the battle and if you are miserable or unwilling to appreciate the pursuit, then you will find a hollow joy in finally reaching your destination.
Take the time to soak in the moments in your life as they happen; there are no guarantees in this world. Achieving success isn’t so much about a singular point in your life, but the grand, collective whole of your pursuit as you accumulate victories and your success begets future success.
Whether you want to work until your 45 or 75, you can’t take this life for granted as it is happening. I think the biggest mistake people make is to either live too beyond their means early on in their life which disallows them from having a healthy and enjoyable retirement, or vice versa in that they spend too much time looking ahead and not enough time enjoying the moments in life as they pass them by.
Success Is a Moving Target
It’s important to understand that your idea of what success is will shift as time passes. When I got out of college, just getting any sort of salaried position with decent benefits was my idea of success. Now that I’ve been on a career path for 4 or 5 years, my idea of success has changed with time.
Now I dream to become a more senior contributor within my role so that I can increase my cash flow, decrease my expenses, and continue to grow my net worth over time.
As you move forward in life, your dreams and ideas of success are bound to shift, ebb, and flow with the motions of your momentum through life.
Balancing Your Approach to Success
There is a great balance to have where you can save and plan for the future, while also enjoying the time you have in the present and utilizing it effectively to live a more full life.
Success isn’t simply a dollar sign with a lot of zeros behind it. It can be defined in a multitude of ways and as an individual, you’ve got to decide what that definition looks like to you and then attack life in a positive way to generate your ideal reality.
My personal goal for life and how I define success will look unique and totally different from the other person. For me, I’d like to become “FIRE” at a relatively young age, perhaps in my early 50’s, so that I stop working in my career path and start working towards something that I truly enjoy.
For the uninitiated, FIRE means “Financially Independent, Retire Early.” It is a growing movement where individuals prioritize controlling costs, lifestyle inflation, and increasing savings rate in order to have the financial flexibility to do what they want in life.
Some people emphasize the “retire early” portion of the plan whilst other care more about the financial independence and flexibility that it provides to them.
According to the /r/FIRE sub-reddit:
“FIRE is a place for people who are or want to become Financially Independent.”
I don’t necessarily want to retire, but I want the flexibility to be able to choose to do so if at that point in time, I feel so inclined.
However, many would think this an extreme plan and wouldn’t consider this their path towards success. That is one of the best aspects about the definition of success is that, it is unique to the individual and the context of their life.
If you want more perspectives about how to balance your life, take a look at these articles:
Stay in Motion
One of the biggest issues that many have as they walk down the road in pursuit of success, is that they burn out over time. It can be so easy to start towards a goal with immense passion and energy, but life often steps in and leads to demotivation and distraction.
As someone in the pursuit of succeeding at a specific goal, you’ve got to keep that goal in mind and understand that as long as you are taking steps towards that success, even if they are baby steps, you are still making progress.
If you stop and allow yourself to stagnate, then you will quickly lose sight of that pursuit of success and may fall into patterns of behavior that don’t line up with your dream of achieving success.
This means that it is key that you always stay in motion in pursuit of those goals. If you aren’t moving forward, then you are surely moving backwards; and that is antithetical to accomplishing the success that you are seeking to achieve!
Find out here How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life.
Give Yourself Your Due
As you continue to strive and generate your own individual road to success in life, please take the time to also take stock of what you’ve done up until this point.
Your accomplishments matter as the process unfolds and they are to be celebrated! If you don’t give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made during this journey, then you may lose heart to continue and pursue success.
It can be satisfying and validating to look back on where you’ve come from while also balancing that against what you still have left to accomplish. It is necessary to remember your wins and use that as fuel for your fire as you continue to move forward in your life.
The road to success is long and tiresome but by remembering the journey and what all you’ve overcome, you will continue to build up confidence and strength to go further than you ever dreamed possible!
Success is For You
At the end of the day, success and what it looks like is entirely unique to the individual who is contemplating such a topic. You define internally what success looks like for you and behave accordingly within that structure that you’ve decided on.
If you never consider what success looks like, then chances are that you will not fall into a place of success. Achieving success takes pre-mediation and thought. It takes risk, boldness, and at times the urgency to act in a moment to secure a more long term return on your work or energy expended.
It never comes easy and it never comes without sacrifice. With diligence, pride, hard work and a strong work ethic, it can be achieved by anyone and that is one of the most exciting elements of the idea of success! It is truly attainable for those who are willing to pour themselves into their desire to achieve it.
Draw Your Map
The best part about the pursuit of success? You get to draw your own map. The beautiful thing about success is that each and every day, someone builds a new road and reaches the same destination of success without ever walking in the footsteps of someone else.
Given the fact that there are near infinite ways to achieve success, it is on you to create your own personal roadmap for getting to that place in life.
This can be a freeing thing as it signifies that you don’t have to be raised in a certain class of society, or go to a specific school or get a specific job in order to achieve success. Your path can be entirely new and have never been tread on before, and still lead you to your final destination.
Success is on the horizon. Will you chase after it?
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Featured photo credit: Matt Duncan via unsplash.com