A nice home with a white picket fence. A fancy car. A swimming pool. A vacation to some exotic place.
If you are able to afford some or all of these without crushing your finances, then chances are that you are what most people would consider as “successful”.
When we look at the media, advertising or even just your Instagram feed, then you are presented with “success”. Models, boasting how they are able to keep in shape with minimal effort. Nomads, who seem to spend their whole life travelling to amazing places.
What you are seeing are the highlights of other people’s lives. You don’t really see all of the effort that goes into taking that one “just got out of bed” picture where the lighting is juuust right. You don’t see how these people spend the remaining 23 hours of their day.
Karen just got her second child and is now boasting about her abs. Bob paid off the mortgage on his house. Tom? He’s got his 7th PhD in nuclear physics. Sarah started her road trip across China last week.
All of those things are great and admirable. No, really!
But what does it do to you, if you hear all of your friends achieving these great feats?
It creates pressure.
You need to be as good as all of those other people.
You need to be better than all of those other people.
You need to achieve everything that they have achieved.
As mentioned before, those are just the highlights of other people’s lives.
You see that Karen has a six pack only a few weeks after giving birth. You don’t see that she’s obsessed with her appearance, neglecting her child to spend more time in the gym.
You see that Bob paid off his debts. You don’t see that he has been living off of instant noodles and that he didn’t go on a single vacation in the last 10 years, just so he can pay off his house.
You see that Tom got another PhD. You don’t see that he practically has no social life or friends because he spends all his time for his academics.
What about Sarah though? She broke her foot a week into the trip and had to cancel it.
You never learn about those things because those are not what people like to present. They don’t want other people to see that their life sucks. Maybe they also suffer from the pressure of their social media feeds.
But wait a minute. Who says that their life actually sucks?
The false dream
Somehow, there’s the universal expectation that you need all of the things that I mentioned to be “successful”. But is that actually true? Well, maybe.
But let me ask a more important question: do you need all of those things, do you need to be successful, in order to be happy?
Am I going to be happy if I have that fancy car? Or that new iPhone which has a new camera and is sooooo much better than the one I already have?
Again, the answer is: maybe. Or rather in typical consultant fashion: it depends.
I love to nerd out about all VR tech, phones, smart homes. I’m excited when I get my hands on a new gadget to play around with!
But what if you use your phone for texting and pretty much nothing else? Wouldn’t a basic budget smart phone be enough for you?
“Oh, but they expect me to have the latest and greatest phone/car/shirt from whatever brand is currently trending. I’ll be super embarrassed if I only have cheap stuff”.
Let me ask you. Who the fuck are they? And why do you care?
Isn’t it more important to find out what makes you excited and happy?
If you live your life in order to fulfil their expectations, then you’re not really living your life. You are living theirs.
What real success is
Real success is when you stop caring about what other people think success is (that includes me).
Real success is when you figure out what you really care about and what makes you happy in life and then you pursue it.
If you are a passionate artist, wouldn’t it bring joy to your life if you could practice your art as much as you want every day? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually earn your living pursuing your art?
If you love spending time with your family and friends, wouldn’t it be great if you could cut down your working times. So you can spend more hours with your loved ones at the end of the day.
If you like travelling, wouldn’t it be great to work in a flexible environment allowing you to work from any place in the world?
You might think that none of these are real options because they might also mean earning less money. Less money to spend on things that actually might not make you happy.
Wouldn’t it be okay, to just have enough money? Enough things? Isn’t that a small sacrifice to be living the life of your dreams doing the things you love?
Shouldn’t enough be enough? Is more gonna make you happy?