What does Success mean to you? Is it a place you want to get to or a goal you must achieve or an obstacle that must be overcome? And how do you get there? Have you thought of these things yet? Because in order to succeed in something, we first must know what it is we mean to achieve. Goals must be set and plans must be considered. Isn’t that how we were raised to think? To always have a plan or an idea about our future! Well what if something goes wrong? How do we prepare for the rainy days in life? Do they teach a class on that? And what if we do achieve a goal, then what? Do we die or just realize that the goal we had previously set was really just a part of a larger goal we still need to achieve? I do hope that life is a cycle of continuous goals and ideas that just keep growing and establishing themselves as we progress through life and that it is really based on the journey we take to get there.
I was approached about 8 years ago by a author who asked me how I defined success. (He claimed he was going to quote me in his book, though I still haven’t seen it.) Anyway, I laughed when I said that to me, success was defined as my being able to live my life on my terms, according to my rules and how I wanted to live it. My father always used to tell me how I always had to do things “My Way,” (kinda like Frank Sinatra). I always understood where I needed to go in life, I was just never good about drawing a straight line between A and Z…or even A and B, for that matter! I always got there, I just got there following a different set of rules than everyone else. I followed a different path and I never thought about whether or not the path I chose was the easier one or whether the path before me was even chosen or laid out for me. Life was always too short to feel sorry for myself or to compare my life with those of others to consider fairness. I definitely learned at a young age that life is not fair and that I needed to get used to that. (Thank you, Uncle Charlie!)
But what types of goals did that mean I set while planning? Did I plan? Sure, I guess I did…or at least I tried to. But you know what they say, “you either plan the dive or dive the plan.” For all of you who are not divers, what that means is that if you plan something and things just don’t work out the way you had planned them, then you still have to live your life, right? Put one foot in front of the other and keep going. So you roll with the punches and hope that everything turns out for the best.
A lot of things happened in my life which were not part of my “plan.” But I just went with it because a few of those things were not given to me by choice but they certainly changed me as a person. (I still remember the feeling of the rug being pulled out from under me when my mother died…like I was running backwards on a treadmill that wouldn’t stop.) The only thing that eventually made sense to me, at that time, was diving. So I moved some place where I could dive all year round. Was that planned? I guess…was it a lifetime goal? Absolutely not. It was a goal for that moment and I had not planned for what came next.
I’ve never been good about setting those goals as I progressed through my 20’s…then my 30’s…and now my 40’s…I just keep allowing life to happen to me and I try to take advantage of every opportunity that falls into my life…whether it be financial, personal, social…a new job prospect, a new living arrangement, new friends as well as always looking to explore and discover new places I’ve never seen before, where I can eat food I’ve never tasted before.
So to me, success has nothing to do with money. I want to say I used to think in terms of dollars…I remember having a saying, something like, “It’s all about the Benjamins.” (Or was that Biggie Smalls? Ha, ha, ha!) Success is my being able to do all of the things I want to do, to call my own shots…have eggs for dinner when I want them…and not have to get anyone’s permission or approval for how I do it! I want to write my own rule book to eventually get me to where everyone else is headed…the grave, except I want to be happy while getting there. I understand that this requires me to be financially independent and capable of looking outside the box to consider my skills when approaching a new economy. I mean, that is why my mother insisted that I get my Master’s Degree, right? So that I could use it to be exactly that…my own boss in life who lives her life…her way! And that is what makes me happy!