Defining your own “success”

Defining your own success

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

We live in a world of comparison. We scroll through social feeds coveting the highlights of our peers. We question our lives. Why don’t I have that? Why doesn’t my life look like theirs? Why isn’t my body like theirs? Why didn’t I get the promotion? This comparison is an unproductive and destructive practice.

I spin when I lose sight of what I deem successful and start playing the comparison game. But when I’m grounded in what I’ve articulated as success in my own life, I find better footing.

I’ve set up my own categories that make up the building blocks of “success” (in no particular order):

  • Earned income
  • Career advancement 
  • Job satisfaction
  • Romantic / Partner relationships
  • Family relationships
  • Friendships
  • Health
  • Hobbies 

Taking this list and stack-ranking them has been essential in prioritizing my time and energy and evaluating where I am and where I need to shift my time.

For my own life, I’ve stack-ranked the categories from most important to least important. 

  1. Partner relationships
  2. Family relationships
  3. Health
  4. Friendships
  5. Job satisfaction
  6. Earned income
  7. Hobbies 
  8. Career Advancement

Does this mean that career advancement isn’t important to me? Absolutely not, but it does help me prioritize my time and remain more content with the outcomes. Personally, I weigh success around the health of my relationships. This means I will prioritize my relationships and health over learning new skills outside of work. It doesn’t mean I don’t learn new skills or focus on my career; it just means I will prioritize time with my wife, son, and friends over career-related themes most days.

Many of us were told, “We could be anything we wanted to be growing up,” and “We can have it all.” This isn’t true. There is only so much time in a day. Trade-offs need to happen.

I’m not recommending you follow my ranking. But I recommend creating your own ranking system and comparing your success to what you have defined and not what others have defined for you.

Stop comparing, and start prioritizing what matters most to you.