Have you ever wondered if you’re aiming too low in life?
You have your own dreams for success, your own plans for how you will get there and your own timeframe. Your dreams are modest; perhaps you want a nice career in an industry you like, or you want to be the owner of a local store in the community.
Your goals might be personal. You want a happy family, or you want to have a complete collection of collectables. You want to actively contribute to a local charity, or you might want to be on the board of a non-profit that has personal significance.
The dreams mean a lot to you, and you cherish them very much. But when you share your dreams with other people, you might hear laughter or mocking.
You might be told that your dreams are silly, and you should do something more realistic. You might even hear that you should be aiming much higher, and dream to be one of the top people in the world.
After all, if you have small dreams, your ambitions aren’t great. If you’re not aiming for a large amount of success, you’re never going to be successful or happy in life. Why aren’t you taking more risks? You’re young, you still have so much time, why not be more adventurous?
Comments like these can really make you feel silly about your goals, and make you think that your goals are insignificant and meaningless. It can dampen your desire to achieve your goals, because you can’t shake the fact that people don’t see realizing those dreams as success.
I’ve always had a dream to have my own business and be a stay-at-home father. To me, nothing is more important than being able to help others and be there for my children. I have other dreams as well, but those two are the most important to me.
When I share those with the people that I meet, I do hear a lot of supportive comments and encouragement. I’ve also heard my share of discouraging comments and ridicule, such as people saying no business investment is an automatic failure, or stay-at-home fathers being a bad idea.
Negative comments stay with me, and they are always uncomfortable to deal with. During my days in university, I had a lot of trouble throwing those thoughts away. They would always stay in my mind, and it started to affect my confidence in following my passions.
Then I opened my mind and started reading more books and talking with my mentor, and realized something about success.
Everyone’s got a different idea of success in their mind. Just because an idea is different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Just because you have modest dreams doesn’t make them any less significant than someone else who might be aiming higher.
If you’ve achieved something and you’re happy, that’s success, no matter what anyone else says.
Everyone Wants To Achieve Different Things In Life
The common message in society seems to be that unless you’re incredibly rich and famous, you can never consider yourself to be successful.
There also seem to be standards that society holds people to in order to judge success. Having a well-paying career or a large business, married with children, a lovely house, owning a car and being able to afford luxuries.
If that makes you happy once you achieve it, that can and should be considered success.
But not everyone thinks that’s success. In fact, some people might not even feel like you can be happy if you have all of that.
What you want to achieve in life and what you think is important to you is determined by your background, the people around you, the activities you are exposed to, and your life experiences.
That’s why some people are just fine with a happy family, and they consider themselves more successful than people searching for endless amounts of money to spend. Some people feel that spending time with their family is more successful than earning money but never being with your family.
Some individuals just want a stable career in life, because they’ve lived a life where job hopping was common, and they are fed up with living in that uncertainty. Having any stability is considered success to them, even if it means having a smaller house and no car.
Others might choose a career that means a lot to them, like being a police officer or an emergency responder. It’s not a job that is as glamorous as being a lawyer or a banker, but who cares? These people love their careers and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. They feel successful.
I want to run a business that can help people. Yes, I’d love to make a lot of money, but I don’t have to be one of the richest people in the world. I’d like a business that can help me improve the lives of others, and have a comfortable life for myself.
No, it’s nothing like the glory of going public or being featured on the front cover of magazines. No, I’m probably not going to be the next overnight success story.
You feel the same way. You have dreams you want to fulfill, and even if other people don’t understand them, you’d feel successful if you manage to achieve even one of those dreams.
It’s simply accomplishing something that means something to you. It’s alright that you have a different view of success from your friends and family. It’s even okay that you might have a different definition of success than the ones you see in society.
There is no wrong definition of success, we just have different goals that we want to achieve.
We Desire Success For Different Reasons
Everyone is motivated to achieve success because of their personal reasons. Even though two people might have the same goal, their reasons for wanting to succeed can be very different. This can also affect how they achieve their goals, and when they know they have succeeded.
For example, many people want to start a business and earn a lot of money. Some will want the potential to earn a lot of money. Some want the satisfaction of owning their own business and not being part of the corporate structure. Others start a business to contribute to a meaningful cause.
Even though you have similar goals to people, achieving success will mean something different to you than it will to other people. The journey and the reasons behind the journey matter more than the destination you want to reach, mainly because they also define your desired destination.
I want to start a business, as do some individuals. My reasons for starting a business are because I believe I can help people and I would like to make an impact on the world in a meaningful way. That’s not too different from other aspiring entrepreneurs.
While some business owners want to change people’s lives by making life more convenient, I want to change people’s lives by helping them find their inner potential. I would like to help others find the courage to express their thoughts and take action.
That’s why I will feel successful when I see positive comments from people talking about how much I managed to improve their lives. I will also feel successful if I earn money from the business, but seeing the impact I have made on the world shows me that I have truly succeeded in what I set out to do.
Having the same goals as someone else doesn’t mean you have to achieve success through the same method. Your desire and motivation will show you your own path to success, which will be more important for you to actually feel that you have succeeded.
It’s not about how much you “need” to achieve or the potential that you “could” achieve. It’s about fulfilling your reasons for wanting to succeed in the first place.
People Perceive Success And Progress With Their Own Views
You are often told during your education to dream big. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s a good thought exercise to think about what you could do. In fact, that’s something I actively encourage people to do, because it helps you to think about the amount of potential that you have.
However, at the same time, you’re often looking at people who are achieving big things and are recognized around the world. It makes you think that in order to achieve success, you have to have your definition of success recognized by other people.
This can lead to some discouraging moments when you achieve something great, like a milestone, but people don’t seem to think that it is anything amazing. Even though you might have actually achieved something great, you don’t feel successful because other people don’t think so.
The thoughts of the people around us, especially the people we want to impress, are very important. That’s why you might feel that you really didn’t achieve anything great, because no one around you thought that, which affects your thoughts and discourages you.
When I first started my attempts at setting up a public speaking website a few years ago, I must admit that the efforts I put in were messy. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, and a lot of the time I was hoping that things were going to plan.
A lot of my early content was drafted and published before it was ready, but I managed to get a website set up regardless. I felt quite proud of myself. I actually took the first step towards achieving my goals, and that was a big deal to me.
But when I told a few of my friends, a lot of questions about my website were asked. Yes, it wasn’t a big website and some questions were actual issues that I knew I had to address, but overall I thought people would think I made good progress.
Instead, some of the feedback turned into quick disappointment that I hadn’t established a successful business quickly, that there wasn’t a point to taking a first step if it wasn’t going to be a full-fledged website right from the start.
While I do know (and was happy to admit) that there were a lot of problems that needed fixing, I didn’t feel so successful anymore. I felt embarrassed that I showed my work so quickly, even though other people might have been too scared to even take the first step.
I should have been proud of the fact that I was successful in getting started, but I didn’t feel successful, and in the end I was discouraged and put my website aside to focus on other matters in my life.
Now that I’ve refocused this year, I’m starting my website again. I’m still hearing similar comments from people, but I’m not as bothered anymore. I know I’m making small steps, and even if that’s not what other people consider to be success, it is success to me.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I can be complacent and sit on my laurels when I’m not at my goal yet. But it does mean that I can recognize when I am succeeding, even if other people don’t see it yet.
The path to success isn’t easy, and we always want confirmation from people to encourage us. You might hear a lot of positive feedback, but you will also hear negative comments, and sometimes discouraging remarks about your progress.
While I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to negative feedback, you should remember that just because people don’t think you’re succeeding doesn’t mean you’re not. What looks like success to some may not be success when you ask someone else.
If you don’t feel that you’re on the right path to success, it might be time to change course. But don’t stop what you’re doing just because people look at your progress and see nothing.
You know you’re on the right track to success, and you know you are making progress. That’s the most important thing you should remember.
Success Has Always Been About What You Want
It’s hard to shake the thought that success is only achieved when you are rich and famous. It’s good that some people consider being rich and famous as a definition of success. It means they do have a goal in mind and they want to achieve it.
But the world is constantly changing, and everyone has their own wants and desires. It’s a fact that your dreams will be different than mine, and what both of us consider success to be will be very different.
You might be thinking that you’re successful if you achieve something small, and you’d be right to think so. Whether or not it’s a big or small achievement, if you’ve succeeded, you’ve succeeded and you should feel proud of that.
Just because other people don’t share your views of success doesn’t make your success meaningless. I think that’s something we sometimes forget when we’re all trying to make our dreams come true.
Focus on the success you want to achieve, the success you believe is right for you. Then you can actually start getting around to succeeding in your life, rather than chasing success that you don’t even want.
Victor Tan writes to helps people overcome their weaknesses to be a better public speaker. He does this by helping people with self-improvement and teaching them proper speaking techniques. You can find him at his website, Spirit On Stage, Facebook and Twitter.
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