Rationally, you are successful. You have a nice career and you are good at what you do. You have security, perhaps the possibility of promotion. Lovely holidays booked. You get a decent salary and you really like you colleagues. You go for drinks together, have a laugh. You should be happy. But instead, you feel that something is missing and you can’t get rid of this feeling, even though you are not able to spot what this missing part could possibly be.
Sure, it would be nice to travel around the world or help clean the oceans one day, but that’s not something that is realistic at this point. It’s not something that you feel you need to do right now. Maybe later, one day.
So what is missing then?
In a world where we are used to ticking boxes and everything being tangible, it is very hard to get lost and forget that each of us is unique. We are told what the “right” definition of success is and what then is the “right” timeline for our lives. We all know this checklist of things that we “should” do or have and also how we should feel about them. We are told that this is what is “normal” and safe as opposed to everything else that is strange and risky.
Most of us grew up breathing these rules like oxygen. There was no question or doubt. And it is very hard to question these “truths” later in life, especially if they seem to be working for most people so well. And to be fair, you seem to be safe and prosperous following them. So should you go crazy now, or what? You don’t even know what you want!
Now think about the time in your life when you felt truly happy, excited and fulfilled. You had no idea how much time had passed since you last ate and you did not care about what anyone thought of you. You felt absolutely alive! What was the situation like? What were you doing? What was special about this situation?
And now you might think: Now she is going to tell me that this is what I should be doing with my life. That is so naive, the world does not work that way! No, I’m not going to advise you to do anything, actually – because you are the one in charge.
But what I would like to invite you to reflect on, though, is what made that specific moment in your life so special? What made it “your element”? Perhaps you were experiencing your freedom and/or creativity, or maybe you were helping someone or contributing to something you found important. Maybe you just felt a deep connection with another person. In other words, you were honoring (some of) your values.
Now what do you notice? What are the values that you were honoring and which made the situation so important and so memorable? How important are these values for you in your life? And how much are you honoring them day-to-day? How would your life look if you consciously decided to include honoring your values every day? What would that take?
Our values are what really drives us and what defines our fulfillment. If we are not aware of our values and are just blindly following society’s definition of success, we might never achieve happiness, no matter how many checkboxes we tick.
Everyone wants to be successful. Have you ever thought about what ‘success’ means to YOU?
If you ask yourself this question, perhaps you will notice a discrepancy between what you thought success was when you were younger. Or between what you peers, parents or society claim as ‘success’.
What would you do today if you could be anyone you wanted? If you did not care about other people’s expectations? If social media didn’t exist?
What is your own definition of success?