How We Measure Success

I know, that’s one of the big questions, a huge one.  I believe it says a lot about us, our deep beliefs, our upbringing, our life, our happiness.

One way to measure success in money: how much do you make in your job? What can you afford: a house, a big car, how many holidays per year? How many things do you own and how much money do you have?

If you measure one’s life success this way, obviously all people who don’t make much money like nurses or artists or people who are temporarily out of a job or a stay at home Mum are not successful. Which is nonsense, in my opinion.

Yes, society wants us to think that way, that’s the mainstream. So we work a lot, make money, spend it or invest it – and don’t have any time to think about our lives.

I can see that when I meet my friends from university, engineers like me, but unlike me they all worked in that job and have a career.  They make – compared to me, the creative one – a lot of money, they go on holiday twice a year, they own big houses and still, some of them envy me. They talk about how they long for freedom. They talk about having no choice. Some even tell me there is no other way.

Which is crazy, because there’s always another choice, there are many choices you can make, to feel better or to change the direction of your life. The question is, do you really want to?

What if we’d measure success by feeling happy, being healthy and enjoying life?

Health – because it all gets easier when you are healthy, in shape and able to enjoy life.

Joy and happiness – because in my opinion that’s the ultimate goal: to experience the joy of being here – and to get there, you can choose many different ways. Though none of it is associated with lots of money. Money is an energy and having it, yes, that’s great. But to beat yourself up when you don’t make as much as someone else, is robbing yourself of the precious moments of joy you can have,

For me success is the feeling of creating, writing, sharing – and I learned it in a way I did not expect.

I was applying for a job as financial consultant in my early forties and had to go through an assessment centre, two days full of exercises, tests and being observed, watched. The goal was to be offered the position, you had to make it to the afternoon of day 2.

At the same time I had submitted one of my poems to a competition.

It happened more than ten years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday: on Saturday, day 2, I made it – I was offered the position, but with lots of comments like I was to soft-hearted, to social for the job, that I’d need to toughen up. Everyone told me how great a job that was – and I took it. I just did not feel very happy,

Two days later I received a letter from the poetry committee – I did not win the first prize, but they liked my poem and wanted to publish it in an anthology. I was crying happy tears and dancing – because I felt seen and heard. I felt like a real poet – and that was making me really happy.

So, success can be measured by how we feel – not by how we should feel. It can be measured by what we really need in our lives, instead of what others or society tells us we should do or have.

Both experiences were successes, but only one made me truly happy.

I did financial consulting for some years, it never took off as a business, I could do it somehow, but it wasn’t a success.

I am still a poet and  an author. I am writing content and getting paid for it. I am working on my first book and though I don’t earn a lot, I get by and I love it.

Writing and publishing gives me the feeling of being connected of the world, of being seen and heard – and it makes me happy.

What makes you happy and successful? What makes your heart sing?






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