Success. What does it mean?
16-year-old me thought it was owning multiple fancy cars, a huge home, designer clothes and taking exotic vacations. It wasn’t until I sat down for a talk with my sister’s husband a few months before I graduated from high school that I started looking at success differently.
I look up to him; he started his own company when he was younger and never once gave up on HIS dreams and goals. He also didn’t have any help — he didn’t come from old money and didn’t have any mentors.
He and my sister had (and still have) a life that I deemed “a successful one,” and to me, anything less than what they had was failure. As a teenager, it intimated me. I now know better.
I’m about to share with you the secret to success. This is exactly what my brother-in-law taught me when I was just a teenager. It took quite a few years to sink in, but I’m now 25 and I think it’s time to share:
1. Define Success For Yourself
In the end, success is turning your dreams into a reality. Whether you want to be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, hair stylist or a baseball player, if you turn that one thing into a reality, you are a success. Leave your bank account out of it — we’ll get to that next.
2. Success Isn’t Money
That was hard for me to grasp at first. Not everyone is meant to be the CEO of a company. Base your success off your own needs and happiness, and not your paycheck.
A very good friend of mine always wanted to be a high school English teacher, and so she went to school to do just that. She’s now a full-time teacher and loves it! She knew from the start that she’d never make anywhere near six digits a year, but followed her dreams. Now, in my eyes, and hers, she is successful.
3. Find Your Strengths
What are you good at? Whatever you’re naturally good at should give you an idea what you should be doing with your life. Are you socially gifted and can befriend anyone? Then, maybe you should consider a career in PR or social media. Are you best at arguing and properly making your point? Maybe you should be a lawyer. Do you enjoy fixing or making things? Perhaps you should be a developer or a mechanic. Discovering and refining your skills takes time, but it’s well worth it in the end if you love your job.
4. Figure out What You Want out of Life
This is the hardest one. You need to determine your goals.
Ask yourself: where you want to be in five years? What type of car would you like to drive? Do you want kids? Do you want to live someplace new? Do you want a degree?
Write all of that down on paper, and then ask yourself what type of life you’d like to be living in twenty years.
5. Establish Long-term and Short-term Goals
Once you know what you want out of life, figure out how to get there. In order to accomplish your goals, it’s easiest to separate them into two categories: long-term and short-term goals.
Short term goals can be achieved in a year or less. Examples: Get fit, finish your first year of college, save $1,000, or buy a car.
Long term goals take 1 to 5 years to complete. Examples: Graduate from college, save $20,000, get a teaching job, get married, and have children.
Set an ultimate goal for every decade. It’s also okay to change your goals over time. For me, my move to NYC changed my life. I came here to become a freelance hairstylist and now I’m doing something completely different. That’s life. Embrace your inner growth.
6. Follow Your Own Dreams
Success is accomplishing the goals that you’ve set for yourself — not the goals others have set for you.
Follow a career path because you feel it’ll lead you to your dream job. If you’re following a specific path because it’ll make your parents happy…you’re setting yourself up for unhappiness down the road. It’s your life, not theirs.
7. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Life is not a race. Everyone advances at different times. Comparing yourself with someone else will drive you crazy.
For example, graduating from college is an awkward time. Some recent grads find their dream jobs right out of school, while others can’t find even a mediocre job for months. Your time to shine will happen.
Do your best, because that’s all you can do. If you aren’t doing your best, then take time to re-evaluate yourself and your goals for a fresh start. Once you stop expecting complete perfection, life will become easier and way more fun!
8. Be Happy with What You Have at Every Stage
I used to always complain about my apartment, my car, my job…when I should have just been happy with what I had at that stage of my life.
Success is a journey, and not a destination. If you’re achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself, then you’re doing just fine!
9. Don’t Act Better Than Anyone Else
Don’t look down on your friends who still haven’t figured it out or who are living a life you’d personally dislike. If they are happy with themselves, then they’re a success. Don’t judge them, especially if you don’t know their goals. If you don’t think they’re happy, encourage them to follow their dreams. You can only get so far being mean and judgmental.
On that note: Don’t look down on people who have a job you’d deem “embarrassing,” such as a waiter or waitress, or the person who makes your latte every morning. That person could be the next Julia Roberts or Mark Zuckerberg.
10. Evaluate Yourself Every Year
Once a year, stand in front of a mirror and evaluate yourself. Do you have a bad habit you want to break? Are you happy with what you’ve accomplished in the past 12 months? Want to change anything? Evaluating yourself and figuring out your personal flaws (and achievements) will help you grow into a well-rounded person.
11. Know It’s Never Too Late
Maybe you weren’t very proactive during your college years, or maybe your twenties didn’t turn out how you thought they would. It’s okay. You can rethink your dreams and goals at any stage.
Whether you’re 20 or 70, it’s never too late.
I really hope these tips help you be the best “you” that you can be!