Succeeding in Life: The Elusive Secret of Success and Happiness
Success - what defines success is vague; it's a relative term. Instead, though, what one can do is to chart a course in life with admirable and exemplary conduct, and which perhaps may even be emulated by others in the future if one is especially well-loved.
Ralph Waldo Emerson has said that:
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social conditions; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
Succeeding at work and at relationships are often quite distinct entities. For relationships, often spending more time with someone will suffice. Work, though, is different because even if you spent more time at work, you may not be producing the results that are needed to advance your career. For more information on succeeding in relationships, please see the articles on Life Attitude, Morality, Friendship, Raising Kids, or any other life skills article on this site that you feel is appropriate. This article will mainly focus on succeeding at work.
Experiment for success. One way to "succeed" in life is through experimentation. Experimentation really tells you what works, what doesn't; what will generate revenue, what won't; what produces the results that you desire, and what doesn't. So you must tune in to your results when you set up an experiment. Be like a scientist. Notice carefully what works for you and what doesn't. Notice what works for others and what doesn't. If you are running many experiments in parallel, you may want to set up a table in a word processing document or spreadsheet to help you keep track of your variables and outcomes. It'll also be easier for you to later on quickly scan and review what worked and what didn't.
You will soon be able to discern subtle factors or activities that will lead to "success" or to "failure." Just remember, though, that failures are really opportunities to learn and to analyze what went wrong so that you have a better understanding of how to act in the future.
Set your priorities. To succeed in life, you must set your priorities. Before you set your priorities, though, you must be clear about what your values and goals are in life, as stated in The Meaning and Course of Your Life. If you value family, then you should probably not leave your home town, but stay there with your parents. Your career may suffer mildly, but you are following your values and behaving consistently with respect to them. On the other hand, if your goal in life is to make a great contribution to humanity and you will endure whatever consequences to achieve that goal, you may have no choice but to relocate.
However, for most of us, we kind of want a balance. We would strive for middle ground, or perhaps decide which is more important and then act accordingly. For example, if you would like that high-potential job in a far-away city but still very much love your home town, perhaps you could consider some place not so far away so that you could come back often to visit family and friends.
Even after setting your priorities, though, you must revisit them often. We often get so caught up in the demands of daily living that we forget to look at the bigger picture that we had decided upon earlier. See if you are still on track. See if you are still heading in the direction that you had set out for yourself earlier. If you have wandered off track, it may mean that either your priorities have changed or that perhaps you should try to get back on track. Thus, never forget to look back at the broader picture that you had painted for yourself.
Determine how you will measure your success. In order to succeed, you must determine what is the measure that you will use to determine your success. Many people equate success with fame. Yes, fame is one way that the magnitude of success is measured. There are others too, as you are quite aware, that you may want to measure your success relative to. Is it the amount of dollars you make? Is it the number of happy faces you wish to see in this world due to your actions? Is it the accomplishment of inventing a new contraption? "Having it all" is a common phrase that is heard. Sure, you can gain success in some of these measures, but likely not all of them.
If you do not have a measure of success, or have not set a limit on what you feel signifies that you have reached success, you will likely feel a sense of emptiness. This is because you will seem to never reach your goal, or that you may not even have known what your goal was in the first place. Of course, it is key to continually strive to do and be the best, and constantly improve yourself, but once you reach a certain point, you really should be happy of your accomplishments in life. You should feel that you have earned the right to be pleased with what you brought into this world.
Recognize how others evaluate you. Many times, your success will be dependent on how others perceive your contributions. For example, if you are opening a department store, you must recognize what your customers appreciate or do not appreciate. Thus, you must sharpen you skills in recognizing who is evaluating you (your audience), their particular likes and dislikes, and their criteria that they are using to evaluate.
You may not be able to please everyone, but you should try to act honorably and then proceed to please those you think can have a large impact on your success. If you are working, the person who has the power to recommend your promotion or your lay-off is likely your most important ally and you must learn to recognize what that person wants from an employee. Of course, do not try to overexert yourself in delivering what that supervisor wants, but do strive to aim towards trying to excel in the area that the supervisor deems to be important.
Listen. Listen and follow the advice of great people. However, you do have the ability to perceive what advice you would want to follow. You should try to follow advice that is in line with your values and that you feel will advance your motives. Too often, though, people in this world set a preconceived notion in their mind and ingrain it deeply. They fail to listen to others. This listening is really similar to the experimentation suggestion, as only by listening to others, trying out a suggestion, and seeing if it works, do you know if that suggestion really works. If you are too stubborn, though, to even try out something new, you may miss out on an important opportunity.
Strive for the best. Only rarely can someone fail if, after listening and following the advice from great mentors, and then daily improving upon a task to their very best that they fail. On the contrary, by engaging in improving yourself in your selected task in every aspect of it, one small step at a time, people will often succeed. See if you can do something even better than you did the previous time you did it. Up it one notch every time. Better yourself each time. Your efforts will eventually show their results. (For more information, see Perfecting a Task.)
Therefore, succeeding in life really is about succeeding in many cumulative areas in life. However, this article has discussed some general principles and avenues to explore further. May your life be a success.
In summary, to "succeed" in life, try the following:
A. Experiment for success.
B. Set your priorities.
C. Determine how you will measure your success.
D. Recognize how others will evaluate you.
F. Strive for the best.
Life Skills > Work Skills > Succeeding in Life: The Elusive Secret of Success