Reflections at 40 – Success – 39/40

To celebrate turning 40, I’ve challenged myself to blog for each of the 40 days leading into my birthday. This is post number 39. You can read all the posts here.

Success, for me, has always been tied to striving and achieving.

I’d set my sights on something.

Try my hardest to get there.

Briefly enjoy the feeling of success if I did.

Then quickly move on to the next thing.

There always had to be a next thing. If there wasn’t, I’d feel totally lost.

Which made it easy for people to classify me: achievement-junkie. Never able to sit for a moment and savour the fruits of her labour. Always, instead, looking for that next ‘hit’.

What I’ve come to realise (only very recently) is that while I enjoy the recognition that comes with success (especially if it’s recognition from my peers), success itself is not a massive driver for me. Perhaps because the older I get, the more it becomes clear that success often hinges on:

  • Luck.
  • Things beyond my control (like a key competitor in a triathlon having a bad day).
  • A score of tiny and unseen privileges.

(Wait. Doesn’t hard work allow you to create your own luck? Yes, sure. It does to a degree. But that’s not even close to being the whole story.)

So, if success isn’t a driver, what is?

Well, it’s striving. I love that part of the process more than anything.

  • Setting my sights on something.
  • Putting a plan in place to get there.
  • Tweaking the plan.
  • Working with and around the restrictions on my time.

It’s fun for me to do this. It’s like working on a puzzle that may, or may not have a solution.

Which is why I really resonated with this definition of success I saw from someone on Facebook recently. She said:

Here’s how I define success: When I stopped saying “I’ll be happy when …”

I love that!

It’s a beautiful way of saying, “If you’re not happy with what you have now, you’re not going to be happy when you achieve that thing either.”

I also think it neatly informs my approach to striving today; an approach that probably goes to close to being a personal ‘definition’ of success.

The ability to strive from a place of abundance rather than scarcity.


Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash