The Most Important Thing to Know

I often tweet about success. I also often get replies that I have no business defining success for someone else. That is 100% true.

Defining success is deeply personal. 

I met a couple a few years ago who felt very successful. They were in their sixties and didn’t have a dime saved up for retirement. They had worked on and off through the years and for most of their adult lives had received some kind of government assistance. They had no disabilities and except for a few aches and pains that come with being in your sixties they were both healthy as could be. 

I was very curious about these two and that perhaps made me overly bold about asking them a few questions. One I asked was about their plans for living in retirement with no income besides a likely small social security check. They weren’t the least bit offended. In fact they smiled and said, “we’re talking to our retirement plan right now.”

There assumption was that “somebody” will always take care of them because in America, “they have to.” And they were fine with that. They didn’t need a lot to be happy and they were okay with living off the efforts of others. Having what they needed and being comfortable with how they received it was their definition of success. 

I was a little shocked with their answer but the longer I thought about it the more I began to think, “good for them!” They have found their personal formula for success. Who am I to judge? Their definition of success is about as far away from mine as you could get but that’s okay, it’s THEIR definition of success. It works for them. 

Whatever your definition of success is, it only needs to work for you. If you’re going to be happy in life it is important that you know that. Do not let other people define what success looks like for you. Ever!

You also must be willing to accept the fact that other people might disagree with your definition. As for the couple who are willing to live off the effort of others I would prefer to burn my money in a pit before they get their hands on it. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about the most important thing to know and the most important thing to know is that your definition of success belongs to you and you alone. 

I kinda hate writing this post. In fact this is one of those posts where I sat down to write one thing but something completely different came out. I really do wish the whole world would accept a unified, socially acceptable definition of success so we can properly judge people as successes or failures. I also wish the Easter Bunny was real. 

But since neither of those are real I’ll share with you what may be the second most important thing to know. You’ll never make yourself happier by trying to judge someone else according to your standards of personal success. 

So don’t judge. Realize that one of the things that make people special is how different we all are. So when somebody doesn’t meet your standards of success don’t try to sway them to your way of thinking. Just say, “well ain’t you special,” and they can’t take that however they want. 

5 thoughts on “The Most Important Thing to Know

  1. Defining your own success if fine as long as it is not off the backs of others which sounds like the couple you just described. Obviously they can’t make it in any type of a retirement facility on Social Security without getting government assistance through medicaid – not medicare. Therefore those of us that are saving and planning end up footing their bill through our tax dollars. Sounds very socialistic to me.

    1. Well Bill it sounds like that to me too…except the post was about our “personal” definition of success. I was reminded this morning by a friend that Bonnie and Clyde felt like VERY successful bank robbers. That was their personal definition of success, whether they still felt that way when the bullets started flying is hard to know. 🙂 I don’t agree with many definitions of success but apparently in a free country it’s perfectly acceptable to live off the work of others. Isn’t that “special” 🥴

  2. I know you don’t get into the faith conversation on this blog, but since I believe I was created by a creator, for a purpose, my definition of success isn’t something I create, but it is something I discover. Success is achieving my purpose. As I grow to knowing my creator better, I come closer to knowing his definition of success for me.

    If there is a life beyond this one, many of us may find our definition of success to have been inadequate, even if we are wonderful, wealthy benefactors of society, or if we’re content to live off of hand outs.. We do get to choose our measure of success. We probably won’t get to choose the consequences of that choice.

    None of us can know for sure, which is why we all get to choose. We’re all very special in that regard…

    1. So a couple of things, we indeed DO get to choose. God allows that and it must be very important to Him that we make a choice. I say it’s very important because poor choices cause nearly 100% of the world’s problems and still, he allows us to choose. I suspect most of us would make better choices if we considered the eternal consequences. Second, a good friend of mine used to say that good people go to hell everyday for doing nothing. And that was the problem, they did nothing, not even accept the gift of salvation. And you are 100% correct that we have much greater success when we live our life for the purpose HE intended.

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