All around us, on the TV, in the street, in the magazines at the movies, we’re given other people’s images of what success looks like. They make the job of defining success very simple and merely conditional on buying stuff. Usually it involves a perpetually renewed car, lots of tech gadgets, a home straight out of vogue and a tropical island backdrop at one point or another.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not immune to the allures of the slick advertising. I love my gadgets and my luxuries as much as the next guy, hence the crazy Stirling Moss SLR McLaren pictured above! There’s nothing wrong with this. But there is also so much more to life. One of the problems with just going along with the line we’re fed is that is has nothing to do with who you or me really are. The cut-out image has nothing to do with what our own dreams and desires – what has real meaning for us and what ultimately fulfils us at a deep level.
When I’m coaching people, one of the things I encourage people to take a really good look at is how they define what success means for them. One way to do it is to look backwards, from the future so to speak. As grim as it might sound, imagine you’re on your deathbed. We’ll all be there one day. When you’re there how will you know you’ve made the most of your life? Odds are it won’t have much to do with the picture sold by advertisers, you probably won’t regret not getting the latest phone or even the SLR. Even if you have achieved great material success this in and of itself won’t be IT.
Ask yourself, in the end, what do imagine you will have wanted to do even more of? What dreams will you regret not having made a shot at? Who will you regret not thanking or reconciling with? Who will you wish you spent more time with, and who less? What will you laugh about? What will you wish you could be laughing about right now? What would you be most proud of? If you take some moments to think about these questions (and more), I can promise you that you’ll be much more in tune with your real You. Only you know the answers, and they will set you on the way to defining the success that you really want to and better be aiming towards.
Another thing you can do to really get into the spirit of this exercise is take a visit to the cemetery. It can have a real ‘wake-up’ effect. I’ve included some photos from a couple of the most beautiful cemeteries in Athens and Paris.