What success really looks like…
It seems that everyone these days (myself included) follow some kind of successful person or success lifestyle page on social media. These range from accounts and people that feature lavish and luxurious million dollar real estate properties, exotic foreign cars to incredible travel destinations worldwide, smoking hot women… you name it. Everything considered as part of this “success lifestyle” is glamorized and presented for us to gaze upon in awe and envy.
Want to know how to succeed in life? You have to get real.
Some of you may have heard of the concept of Plato’s cave. If you haven’t, let me explain.
Plato’s cave is a story about prisoners who are stuck in a cave with nothing but fire and shadow images put on by guards who watch over them. The prisoners are exposed to the shadows for such a long period of time that they begin to associate these images with the real thing. They inevitably fall into a downward spiral of believing that these images are real and this is how life really is. They ultimately forget what real life is like.
These images are very appealing to the prisoners. They are a distorted picture of life that creates a false sense of fulfillment and, as a result, the prisoners become satisfied with looking at these mere shadows instead of actually living life.
This is what social media is doing to us.
By reveling in these images of successful lifestyles, we begin to think that “this is what success is” and anything else is not. This contributes to our tendency to compare our own measure of success to others and, as a result, we become increasingly dissatisfied with our own success. These images only show us the “end result” of success. (what about the journey getting there!?)
I really struggled with this concept until I rationalized myself out of Plato’s successful lifestyle cave. I had this image of a perfect life that I longed for stuck in my head. I still have this vision, but it is a lot more realistic now that I have worked to stop comparing myself and realized that reality isn’t always as glorified as the well staged pictures or videos make it seem… and that it’s not always meant to be.
Success is going to look different for everybody. This realization has helped me a lot.
Here is a quick list of my most recent successes.
About 6 months ago I quit my job in pursuit of finding something better -success.
Along the way, I figured out what I wanted to do with my life – success.
Even though I took a pay cut, I still manage to live my same lifestyle – success
I gave up old relationships that did nothing to benefit me – success
I have officially been living a fitness lifestyle for one year and have made incredible gains – success
I just put an offer in on my first real estate property, and even if I don’t get it, I have learned so much about the process – success (by the way, when I do get that rental it will be a… ) – Huge success
I just wrote my third article for prsuit.com and got it published – Success!
Shoot, I just learned how to make an origami polo shirt with a tie out of a dollar just so I can give my next excellent server a funny and smirk worthy tip – success
Maybe success to you is different than it is to me, but it’s all the same principle. Take pride in the baby steps. celebrate it all and don’t think that just because you didn’t buy a yacht yesterday that you are a failure. You’re not.
It’s easy to forget about the journey when all you can see is the destination.
This realization about what success really looks like has taught me a few things.
1. Take the time to admire all the little achievements in your life because they all add up to “living that lifestyle.”
Every bit leads you closer to achieving your goals. Whether it be learning one small nuance in your career if you are trying to master your craft or just saying hello to a stranger if you’re trying to start more personal conversations with people. Even crawling in the right direction is still moving in the right direction.
2. Identifying this principle builds gratitude.
Being grateful for what you have is one of the ultimate traits to living a fulfilled life. If you can’t appreciate all that you have, then you will never be satisfied (take it from me). Showing appreciation for the things you have not only builds character, but is also humbling…which leads me to the last lesson I have learned.
3. Success is more than what you achieve on the outside.
We tend to say “I’ll be happy as soon as I get…, but if I had… it would be even better.” This never actually works. Satisfaction with external objects is short lived and a slippery slope to dissatisfaction.
“It all starts with you,” has been the simplest 5 word quote that has left an incredible impact on my life. It has frequently popped up in my mind since the beginning of my journey to become the best version of myself both internally and externally. I encourage you to congratulate yourself for all of your successes both macro and micro, and thank yourself for being such a great person as well.