Gratitude: Defining Success For Each of Us

Gratitude: Defining Success For Each of Us

Everyone desires success in their own way. Everyone wants to feel that they have properly navigated the challenges necessary to live a “successful” life; with goals achieved.

We all have different definitions of what success means.

For some, it might be paying the bills and putting food on the table; living a simple life without massive complexities. For others, success is gauged by the accumulation of wealth; typically defined by those who will do anything to make that happen. Each path is different, neither path is wrong or right.

The proper thing to focus on is: What does success and joy mean to you right now in your life?

Some people find comfort and joy in taking a hike in the woods, while others find joy in having the resources to spend a considerable sum for tickets to a Broadway show. But when we judge others or ourselves for the inability to lay out money for a few hours in a theater, we start to run into trouble.

At this point, we’ve begun to take our eye off of what we value; instead looking around to what others value. It’s a waste of time and energy.

Real success is a feeling of peace and contentment, regardless of the degree of your financial wealth.

It is all too easy to fall into the clutches of marketers and advertisers who lay their claim that you are just “not enough,” that is, of course, unless you purchase their product.

The constant bombardment of media makes it difficult to maintain clarity and focus. The job of these media magicians is to transfer your ‘wants’ into ‘needs’ – without you necessarily realizing it.

As we approach the end of the year, consider my favorite holiday that just passed, Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite because my focus is on gratitude and looking back over the year to count my blessings and the challenges I’ve overcome. This holiday brings meaning into my life.

Obstacles are high on the list of blessings. While they do not fall under our standard definition of ‘easy,’ they do measure the ability to transform a negative into a positive; even if it doesn’t turn out ideally. That’s a success!

Regardless of your age or particular situation, I challenge you to first look back on where you were a year ago and where you are today.

Think about your health, family, work, and finances. Where were you then vs. now, and what happened to impact changes – positive or negative? Those negatives might not make you happy, but by focusing on success, you made it through.

Now look forward. Where would you like to be in the next twelve months? What would you like to accomplish? Make a short list of action items you need to take to get there.

If your goal is to earn more money, perhaps you need to speak with a recruiter or obtain more training. If you’d like to save more money, review your current expenditures and determine what you can control.

If you’d like to have closer relationships, be ready to devote more time and energy in that area.

If you need to improve your health, work with your health care professionals to devise a meaningful plan.

Make actionable changes that bring you closer to your goal, whatever it may be.

Thanksgiving is a time to verbalize gratitude for the success of the past year and to share with loved ones their importance to you.

As I looked at my family and friends sharing the day with me, I delighted at being able to promote a conversation, not about politics, not about the problems of the world, but rather about what we can do, individually and as a group, to make our world better. It all starts with defining success for each of us.

It is meaningful and productive to me to hear what went right and what didn’t go as expected, and how troubles or problems have been overcome. After all, that’s success, too!