Striving toward something different

While the idea of success can help drive you toward your dreams, it can also drive you mad.

Kate Nelson

Success. An eight-letter word that packs such a powerful punch it seems only fitting it’s twice the length of those taboo four-letter words.

The idea had been laid out long before our time – or that of our parents or grandparents, for that matter. It’s a term that makes me literally take a deep, heavy breath every time its syllables ring in my ears.

How does a notion with such positive connotations come bearing so much weight and dressed in such a preset package?

We’re told time and time again that life is a journey and not a destination. Well, it’s hard to see success as anything other than an endpoint since in its most basic construct it indicates the completion of a task, the attainment of some goal.

Now, before I start sounding like I’m badmouthing the idea of having hopes and achieving them, let me clarify. I don’t aim to derail the notion of success but rather to open it up to a wider range of interpretation.

Striving toward my goals has gotten me to where I am today and has helped craft the person I am. In fact, perhaps I should be thankful rather than critical. While I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had, it hasn’t always been pretty.

A dear friend of mine could hope for nothing more than to be a wonderful mother, just as she has had. While her dreams go beyond just holding a dishrag, she’s perfectly satisfied having her home life be the central component of her existence.

And good for her for breaking out of the mold, for allowing herself to seek her own happiness – and success – regardless of what the world might be pushing her to pursue.

For my friend, it seems this idea is easily defined. It isn’t always that simple, though. Does success lie in a CEO position? Come bundled with a bright, shiny Audi? Require the acquisition of a golden retriever? Some sure seem to think so.

While the idea of success can drive you toward your dreams, it can also drive you mad – especially if you’re seeking a goal that isn’t your own. Additionally, complete unsuccess can come from comparing your achievements toward your aspirations to that of someone else’s.

Rewiring your mind to move beyond the status quo of success is not an easy task. Allowing yourself to feel proud simply because you’re on your way to, well, somewhere and something also doesn’t come naturally.

Defy the standards – and perhaps what you’ve believed you were striving toward all along – and chase after what it is you truly want. And hey, no big deal if right now you’ve no idea what that is or how you’ll get there. We have the rest of our lives to find success, whatever that may be.

A checklist shouldn’t need to be completed to be able to claim success. Whatever your goals and wherever they may lead you, be sure they are in the direction of happiness and satisfaction, not simply some lofty ideal.

Kate Nelson welcomes comments at [email protected]