Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, an international, multi-award-winning event agency based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was recently asked if success is a goal for which I strive. And I immediately, without even thinking about it, said, “NO!”
“Why not?” was the surprised reply in a very shocked tone of voice.
Here’s what I think: What happens when you establish a goal, and you then reach it? What do you do then? Do you stop? Is there no more to do? It’s “done?”
To me, success is something that is a continuous process. For example, I could set a goal and say, “When I complete this project, I will be a success.” Or “When I have this amount of money, I will have achieved success.” When that project is completed or that amount of money is in the bank, what happens after that? Am I done? Do I set another goal?
I think success is something else entirely. Success is a continuum-always striving to do more, doing better, continuing to travel the path and grow and achieve. So, success to me is not a goal. It’s a pathway.
Let me add that I don’t think success can truly be defined because it means something entirely different to each person. If you are doing the best that you can do and optimizing your life in every way possible, that would probably be my definition of success. Please consider this: Can you honestly say that you couldn’t be doing some things better? So, no, I don’t really define success as an actuality.
The person who asked me the original question then asked, “What happens when you reach the state you define as successful?”
My reply was that I don’t reach that state, nor do I want to. When most people reach it, they get complacent; they stop moving forward. Either that or they set unrealistic goals and then invite failure, or at least their perception of failure.
If I could advise anyone, including myself, who says, “I want to be a success,” I would say the following: Don’t look at “success” as the end of a road. Don’t define success because you won’t know what to do with yourself once you have realized that definition. Rather, just keep expanding your horizons, loving what you do, reaching for the stars, and dreaming of the possibilities. When you just keep dreaming, that becomes your forever goal.