What Defines ‘Success’?

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What defines success? Everyone has a different definition. MOST of us would define success as getting good grades, getting into Uni, scoring a high flying job and earning so much money you could swim in it.

Up until recently, I was on of those people who thought the end goal was to be “financially free”. However, as I age, I find myself rethinking my personal definition of success. Would it be nice to be financially free? Yes. Would it solve a lot of problems? Yes. But is it going to make me happy? No.

The only good thing that came out of this degree was getting a husband- fair enough a deal

Vinh and I had a chat recently about this topic. We both agreed that our new definition of ‘success’ is just being HAPPY. Doing something you love, having great relationships and friendships, and having enough money just to live comfortably.

You only have one life on earth. One chance to get it right. I know you’ve heard that a million times but you can’t escape the fact that it’s TRUE (I guess the older you get, the more that sinks in). As a former boss once said, what’s the point of slaving like a dog throughout your best years and then retiring and “enjoying life” at a time when you’re too old to enjoy sex, travel or throw around your money. If that’s the definition of life, then that’s sad.

You may recall a popular article entitled “Regrets of the dying” by a woman named Bronnie Ware who worked many years in palliative care- it was a popular viral article which circulated a while back. She wrote that these were the top five regrets that her dying patients had:

1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be lying on my death bed with lots of money and empty achievements and nothing else. This is not to say you shouldn’t work hard or excel in life. It’s simply about BALANCE. You can work and aim high if that’s your dream; just don’t work late every single night and neglect your spouse and kids. Don’t get so consumed about what you can achieve by your power that you forget to seek God. Don’t spend your life chasing someone else’s dream for you and not your own. Don’t neglect your health, your friendships, and your happiness.

I’ve decided that it’s really alright if I never fulfill the Asian definition of success. I definitely don’t need to earn 6 figures a year to live a comfortable life. I don’t need to have the business that makes it big. My parents are going to live even if I’m not a lawyer or a doctor. There’s only so many holidays you can take and cocktails you can sip on the beach. Whatever people say or think- it doesn’t really matter (if you knew you were going to die in a week, I’m pretty sure you won’t find fulfilling Asian stereotypes/following the norm/”having face” very important). If in 10 years time, the following is true, I’ll consider myself mighty successful:

1. I’m still as in love with my husband as they day we said “I do”
2. I have beautiful kids who are confident and secure
3. I’m doing things I love that are making an impact on people’s lives
4. I have enough money to pay the bills without worrying
5. I have a good support group whom I love and trust

We all define success differently. Decide what is yours and stick to it. Don’t let someone else’s definition define your life.