Define “Success”

My perception of the speed of time is directly linked to my physical age.

Read that again if you have to.

My perception of the speed of time is directly linked to my physical age.

Think about it. An elderly woman will tell stories from ten years past with the addendum, “It seems just yesterday,” but when a five-year old waits for Christmas, it feels like one of the longest Decembers of his young life.

Because it is.

Every new year becomes a smaller and smaller portion of his total life span. But when he’s only 5, those few months before Santa Claus shows up is literally forever!

It’s no wonder everyone sees the world turn at different speeds. My time runs at a different rate than yours.

Success is…

In the same way that my time is distinctly individualized, so is my progression through life.

This is a question I ask myself constantly, and one that often causes me to stumble: where should I be?

Should I be living with my parents? Should I have my own family? Should my income be higher, or is it congruent with my age? Do I have the experience an early twenty-something should have? Should I do more?

While these are valid questions, and a great way to assess my own “achievement,” there is a major flaw in this line of thinking. It’s one I have to constantly fight against.

There is no “should.”

Just because I graduated earlier than my peers doesn’t mean I’m better or smarter. It doesn’t mean I worked harder. It doesn’t mean I’m “further along.” In the same way, someone who graduated later should not be considered “behind.”

I’m tired of standard definitions. I’m tired of the world’s insistence on sorting every person into a box. I’m tired of the world telling me what I need to have/be/do to be a success.

The only good thing about standard definitions of success is they tell me what’s possible. But sometimes what’s possible is something I, personally, just can’t reach.

Even if I trained for 10 years, my short legs will never allow me to run a 4-minute mile. That’s nothing I’ve done wrong. It’s just who I am. It’s part of my story.

My point?

Standards don’t exist. Throw them out. Nothing exists but my story and yours.

A guide book of what’s possible is always good to have, but it’s never ever a first step.

Here are some questions instead of allowing the word “should” pass your lips:

What am I passionate about? What do I enjoy? What are my strengths and weaknesses? Are they self-designed/inflicted or naturally ingrained?

Who am I? What’s my story?

Purpose

I was recently asked how I found my “purpose” in life. It’s a good question, and one that deserves to be answered. Ready?

I haven’t.

I don’t know what specific work I will accomplish before I die. I don’t know my what my “dream job” is. I don’t know what projects I’ll complete, if I’ll ever have kids, or if my tomorrow is my last day on the earth. I don’t know.

But I know my story.

I know my interests, my strengths, my weaknesses. I know the events in my past that have shaped me into the person I am. I know the person I want to be.

I know how I work and the thoughts I think. I know what subjects are important to me and what I could care less about. I know the people I most want in my life and where to allocate my time. I know my deepest, most basic desires. I know what I need to be “happy.”

I know my own definition of success.

The only way to write your story is to know your story. You were not designed according to the standards of the world around you.

You were designed to be the person God created you to be, whether that’s Einstein or neighbor Joe from two houses down. You are who you are.

Excel by your definition. It’s the only one that matters.

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