Over the last few weeks I have been putting together an online course that is designed to help people create a successful life for themselves. I know there are already a lot of books, courses and videos around that claim to have the “secret recipe” to having a successful life, some of them are very good, others not so good. But what almost all of them have in common is they define success as having a lot of money, being a CEO or the founder / owner of your own company and having a big house and a lot of cars.
The truth is that definition of success is the definition society has come to attach to success. It is the definition of success TV executives who control the dramas, soap operas and daytime TV shows want you to believe. It is the definition that the “I want” society has for success.
But success is not about money, big houses and fast cars. Success goes much deeper than that. We know that after a certain level of income, a person no longer gains happiness if their income rises. Indeed the chart of happiness begins to decrease once you get beyond a certain level of income. Money cannot buy you happiness, it rarely even buys you security as money gained can be easily lost.
Success needs a new definition, a definition that includes all parts of a persons life. Not just the financial and the material, but also the lifestyle — as in what a person does with their time, the absence of stress in a persons life, the hobbies and pleasures a person has and the family and friends around them. Success should not be defined by what a person has materially, but rather by the life they have, the joy they bring to others and the happiness they feel inside.
Creating this course has been an eye opening experience for me. I began with the default belief that success was about what you have materially and as I came towards the end of researching and creating this course I realised success is not at all about material things. I discovered success is really about happiness. Happiness in what you do, who you spend time with and being able to do the things you really enjoy doing. Earning over $1 million a year does not bring you any happiness if you are doing a job you hate, stuck in an office building sixteen hours a day, having no time to spend with your family and friends and being so stressed out you cannot enjoy even the few moments of quiet you get on a weekend. That is not success. That is misery.
As human beings we have the ability to make choices about what we do in our lives. We can make decisions about where we work, what kind of work we do and who we spend our time with. We get to choose our hobbies and we get to choose the things we learn. All that choice gives us immense opportunities to lead a life of joy, happiness and meaning. You do not have to do what society tells you to do, you do not have to accept modern society’s definition of success, you have the freedom to create your own definition of success.
And that is where it begins. It begins with your definition of success. Decide what a successful life is on your terms, not society’s terms. Once you have decided what a successful life is for you, work out a way to achieve that life.
It starts with that vision. As Stephen Covey wrote in The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People: “begin with the end in mind”. Once you have a clearly defined image of what a successful life is to you, you then need to create a plan to achieving that success. Start with small, daily habits and routines. If part of having a successful life is being healthy and strong, then a regular exercise routine needs building in to your daily routine. If reading and learning new things is part of your definition of a successful life, then reading and learning needs to be built in to your daily routine. And if spending time with the people you love and care about is part of a successful life, then having daily habits that allows you to spend time with the people you care about and love needs to be part of your daily routine.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day. Failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day” Jim Rohn
A successful life does not just happen overnight. It takes time. You need to build it brick by brick, action by action, task by task. You need to be focused on the things that will take you closer to achieving that success every day. You need to have the built in routines and habits that as each day passes gets you a little bit closer towards you goal. To do that you need to have your vision, and you need to have your daily routines. Not someone else’s. Everything is built around how you spend each day. As the late Jim Rohn said: “success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day. Failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day”
It is an error in judgment to define success by the way TV and advertising executives define it. They paint this idyllic picture of what a successful life is. That kind of life is empty, it is the “I want” life and that can only lead to misery. It is an error in judgment to not do anything to change a life that is not giving you joy and happiness every day. You need to define what success is for you, what brings you joy and happiness and create a plan that through some simple disciplines practiced every day will bring you closer to achieving that vision of a successful life. Good luck.
My course on creating a successful life for yourself will launch at the end of this month. If you want more information, visit my site, which will be regularly updated with the latest information.
Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.