Money is important, after all we do live in a capitalist society, but I think we are all pretty familiar with the age old saying that money doesn’t buy you happiness. For me at least happiness is a pretty key part of success.
Money is an extrinsic motivator, meaning the motivation comes from outside of a person, rather than inside, which is intrinsic motivation. The problem with extrinsic motivators are that they don’t last in the same way intrinsic motivators do. More importantly than that, I think the sole pursuit of money as a way to be successful must feel really hollow. But that’s just me. If it’s making you happy, you do you.
Another issue I have with using money as a sign of success is society shouldn’t be about a race to the bottom, as in it shouldn’t be about having more, having better etc than others. It’s also completely unsustainable, on a planet with an ever growing population we can’t go on aspiring to have more, we just don’t have infinite resources. (Which is where wealth redistribution comes in, but that’s a post for another time).
So instead of using money as a sign of success some of my favourites are:
You know you are in a state of flow when you are doing something and are so absorbed in it that you don’t notice time passing. Being able to get lost in a task, whether that be something at work or a hobby, feels so fulfilling. Strive to do more of whatever gives you the feeling of flow.
Pride in your work
Although this might feel obvious, being proud of what you produce is definitely a sign of success. This should mean a feeling of pride because you are really happy with your work, not because it hits someone else’s targets or gains you a lot of praise. External feedback is nice, but it’s nothing compared to a deep sense of inner pride in yourself.
I’m not always the most organised of people, but feeling like you have your shit together definitely makes you feel like you are doing well in life. For me the tidier my flat and work desk are, the less stressed I feel and when I get things done before the deadline I feel pretty smug.
Peace of mind
For me having a career I feel good about gives me peace of mind. I like knowing through my work I’m able to contribute positively to society and leave the world a little bit better than I found it. I can’t imagine feeling successful if I was making lots of money but doing something that didn’t feel ethical or fit with my values. Obviously this will be different for different people as our values vary, but ultimately I think feeling good about what you do is important.
What makes you feel successful?