As a millennial, attaining success may seem like a never-ending climb. This is because we have a tendency to compare ourselves to how well our friends and co-workers are doing; or even worse — our parents.
I think about my parents at 25: Married with no children for a little over 3 years, affording a large $1,100 apartment in Boystown — my mother worked, my dad was starting his business, and they had no college degrees and no substantial debt.
I can imagine that narrative sounds good to many millennials; especially being able to live comfortably in that area of the city.
Though my situation is nowhere near “comfortable” at this moment, I wouldn’t necessarily venture to say that I haven’t experienced a successful life.
How to Define Your Unique Successes
To explain this in a way that seems less boastful, I’d like to define the elements of success in two ways: relative and masterful.
How is success relative?
Back to comparing your life to your parents’; success is relative. If college was cheaper, renting was cheaper/had more value, and being dependent on technology wasn’t a thing back in that period of time, then they’re ability to afford a “successful” life is highly relative to the cost of living in comparison to today’s.
Success is also relative because, like beauty, it is truly in the eye of the beholder. My mother’s definition of success was having a college degree and being able to support herself. My father’s definition was working for yourself and being a millionaire. They were none of those at the age of 25.
So, I challenge you to define your own definition of success. And be sure that it really provides intrinsic value, so that you aren’t doing it for anybody else and that you can truly find joy in those successes and the process it takes to get there. You can ask yourself questions like:
- Do I want to strengthen my spiritual life? Do I want to better tend to my emotional well-being?
- Do I want to help my family more? Do I want to give time/resources to the community/the needy?
- Do I want to get married? Do I want to have a family? How do I want to take care of my family? What can I do for my family that my immediate family did well or could have done better?
- Should I stay in my current job role down the line? Do I want to manage/mentor/direct others for the role that I’m currently in down the line?
- What type of assets would I like to own in the future? What type of retirement would I like to live?
- What sacrifices can I make now to live a better life down the road?
- What kind of timeline can I piece together for attaining my successes?
Asking questions like these can really help define the unique successes you desire to attain, and most important, can help pave a clearer path to them.
How to Maintain Your Success
Successes are also masterful.
In one of my favorite TED talks, “Embrace the Near Win,” Sarah Lewis redefines success by explaining the importance of mastery. Essentially, striving for mastery versus mere successes differentiates your ability to be able to cope with both shortcomings and the path to long-term success.
One of her examples refers to how those who participate in archery, along with any athlete, realizes that successfully hitting a target, or making a game-winning shot, is not enough to be a successful athlete. This is because that athlete knows that their success is relative (especially to fans) to their ability to continuously make or enhance that successful hit or shot.
Successful people maintain their success by mastering their craft. And with mastering their craft, they know that it is a journey and there are various adversities to come with it. They also realize that that journey is never-ending, because mastery requires constant effort, learning, and maintenance.
Therefore, define your own success and maintain it with mastery.
Know your desires and dreams. Get acquainted with your abilities and limits. And work with them. At the end of the day, no one can define success that is meaningful and true to you other than you.
Know that one of the worse feelings is attaining your successes and not being able to maintain that success. Truly successful people define their successes and do everything in their power to keep or enhance that success.
Millennials are not doomed to living an unsuccessful life because of the pace that others are moving in or because of whatever everyone else has.
Success is yours to have, as long as you uniquely define it and master it.
Best of Luck,