What it means to succeed in today’s changing world

Many have achieved money, fame and power but lack inner peace

In Summary

• As you pursue your definition of success, don’t forget to take care of yourself

Pursuit of success
Pursuit of success

Do you regard yourself as successful? As you go about your daily activities, praying and hoping that you succeed at them, what will be proof that you have succeeded?

Success is relative; its interpretation changes from person to person. For some people, material possessions, such as houses, cars and designer clothes, are the definition of success. For others, success is reaching the top of their profession. A technician wants to be an engineer. A trainee doctor hopes to one day become a surgeon. A singer feels successful when there's applause at the end of a performance.

To yet others, success is not about material possessions; it's about making a difference in the community by taking care of the disadvantaged in society. The people who define success in terms of helping others often sacrifice their material comfort in service to the community.

"I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer," Jim Carrey, Hollywood actor, observes. Lots of people have achieved money, fame and power but lack inner peace.

The late Maya Angelou, a successful poet, believed there is a strong link between success, self-esteem and satisfaction in one's profession. Many analysts have attributed success to a state of mind.

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful," said Herman Caine, a former executive at Burger King.

As you go about your daily hustle, in any form that it takes, it's worth asking why you do the things you do. Success is personal; only you can describe what success means to you. Adopting somebody else's definition of success can make you rich, but it might not get you fulfilled.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), researchers have found that people who were both successful and happy structured their lives around four major needs: happiness, achievement, significance and legacy. They did things that produced pleasure and satisfaction. They did things that achieved results. They made a significant impact on people around them, and they mentored others (legacy).

What comes first: success or happiness? Are successful people happy because they have achieved their goals, or are they successful because they were happy from the beginning? A study reported by the London School of Economics reveals that the happier people are, the more likely they are to later find employment and be satisfied with it. Graduating students who were happier than their peers were more likely to receive follow-up job interviews. 18-year-olds who were happy were more likely to be working in prestigious careers, satisfied with their work, and felt financially secure eight years later.

Further results showed that employees who initially report high levels of well-being reported higher productivity two months later, greater social support 20 months later, and better supervisor evaluations five years later. Happy people are also less likely to burn out, be absent from work or quit their jobs.

As you go through the daily ups and downs in pursuit of your definition of success, don't forget to take care of yourself. As many accomplished people have said, success is not a destination, it's a journey. Do the best for yourself and for society regardless of your current circumstances.

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