Why do you think some people are successful in life and others are not?
[After trying to come up with a story for this one I realized I had a lot to say about it. I apologize if you came looking for a story, but this one didn’t spark any one particular tale. I’m coming to the realization that while this book is full of writing prompts, it never claims to be fiction/story prompts and I am learning to accept that that means sometimes I will have posts where I just wax poetic or philosophic or straight up ramble on about myself.]
So, success. Why do some people have it and others don’t?
I think it comes down to how you define success. We can start by looking at the dictionary definition.
the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.
the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
a performance or achievement that is marked by success, as by the attainment of honors: The play was an instant success.
a person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc.: She was a great success on the talk show.
The third and fourth definitions are essentially just a repeat of the second applied to different objects. I think we’re really interested in the first two. Accomplishment of one’s goals, and attainment of status. It’s nice to think that accomplishing one’s goals would also lead to attainment of status, but that’s an ideal scenario.
Success, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I might look at a small business owner and think he’s “made it.” Self-sufficient, hardworking entrepreneur with a successful business. But maybe it isn’t his dream. Maybe he doesn’t see himself as successful because he never wanted the family business and he’s struggling to keep afloat.
I think luck plays a big part into it. It’s not enough to be charismatic, savvy, and confident. If the proverbial stars don’t align, or if they align wrong, it could mean the difference between success and failure.
Success is what you make it, after all. Maybe your goals are small. Maybe you don’t need fame and fortune, you just want to live a life full of meaning, whatever that may be. If you do it, it doesn’t mean you’re any less successful than the person who aimed high and went big. Clearly you value different things. But in the end, you both accomplished your goals.
It’s ok to set the bar low, if that’s what you want. But it doesn’t mean it has to stay there. You may find success and decide you want to reach for something greater. You can raise the bar higher. The bar is not fixed. You can move it as needed as long as it motivates you to be successful.
And don’t compare your successes to anyone else’s. Their values may differ from yours. Their goals might be impossible for you to achieve. And yours might be impossible for them.
Life is too grand a scale to measure success against. Stick with small ones. Daily, weekly, monthly. Lately, a daily success for me has been sitting my butt in a chair for a couple hours and writing at least 500 words. The more the better, but every day I spend writing and practicing is a day closer to the day I inevitably sit my butt in my chair to write my first real novel. That’s success to me. What is it for you?
Thursday’s prompt: Look around you and choose an object in the room. Now write something from the point of view of that object.