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Pimp Your Work - Improving Your Work Day Efficiency

Are you successful? Find out now! (Part 1)

by Celine on November 30th, 2007

*Cartoon by Andy Singer

Success. It means many things to different people.

A man lives in a small farmhouse with his wife and two kids. He spends his days on the field, and his nights reading to his kids. Is he successful?

How about a young stockbroker with a six-figure income who doesn’t have savings or an emergency fund, but can buy anything she wants. This includes the latest designer clothes and the most high-tech gadgets. Is she successful?

The thing is, success means whatever your definition of success is. Here are some common ideas:

Career. Some people measure success via the corporate ladder, or how far they’ve gone in their careers. Your ambition greatly depends on your position in the company, or any specific rewards you’ve gotten for your good work. Sometimes, you don’t have to be at the top to feel successful - I know some people who would prefer to be team captains rather than managers, or creative directors rather than CEOs. It all depends on where you want to be career-wise.

Family life. Some people dream of meeting “the one”, settling down, and raising kids. For them, having a stable family life is ideal, where the relationships are harmonious and everyone is healthy. People who define success via family life might often pass up “important” career opportunities just to be near and accessible to their loved ones. An example would be a mother declining a promotion that would require her to be out of town for 4 days in a week, or a spouse who would work at a job he isn’t passionate about if the job could pay for his wife’s hospitalization. Also, they spend most of their free time with their family.

Money.  This type of definition may depend on a few different things: the assets one has, one’s income, or one’s savings.  For some people, the more income you have, the better.  for others, the more they save, the more financially free they feel.  I know of someone who measures his financial success mostly on how much he earns from the stock market. If money is one of the ways in which you measure success, figure out where you want to be financially, and see if you’re taking steps to get there.

Objects and possessions.  Whether it’s a house in the Hamptons or the entire collection of Star Trek commemorative plates, some people measure their success based on the objects within their possession.  For example, a young teenager may have an iPhone, and think that she’s “made it”.

Free time.  Timothy Ferriss of The 4 Hour Work Week comes to mind with this one.  Some people measure success based on the free time they have to do the things they love.  This means that they are in full control of their time, often without having to sacrifice so much time on something they’re not passionate about just to earn a bit of money. 

Monumental discoveries or achievements.  If you dream of winning the Nobel Prize or writing a bestselling novel, then you probably measure success based on achievement.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that the achievement is quantifiable.  For example, an artist may simply want one of her paintings exhibited at the Met.  Or a playwright might want to have his work staged on Broadway.

Physical and mental health.  It’s hard to be completely healthy in this world of processed foods and psychological disorders.  If you’ve never been hospitalized and are considered to be of sound mental faculties, then you might consider yourself a success.  My grandfather is 81 and he can still play tennis in winter.  According to him, he feels very successful, compared to his wife who has to walk with a cane and takes tens of pills everyday.

The common good or society at large.  It’s hard to find people who devote their lives to the greater good, but they do exist.  They go where they’re needed, whether it’s on a medical mission, building homes for impoverished families, or teaching in a third world country.  Of course, “good” is still relative, but as long as they feel they’re making a positive contribution to the planet and society, then they can consider themselves successful.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, where you’ll learn how to measure success more accurately.

As for you, how do you define success? Share it with us in the comments.

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POSTED IN: Cube life, General work pimps, Humor, Worklife Balance, Workplace Wellness

2 opinions for Are you successful? Find out now! (Part 1)

  • Jennifer
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:06 am

    The smart part of me measures success by happiness and good health — more happiness. I also measure success by how calm things stay because I like it chill.

    The vain part of me (left over theater issues) likes when people mention me as a cool blogger at their blog, link to me, or I see an article of mine in a glossy or when I was nominated for a 2007 web blog award — but I know those things are not real success; not in the grand world scheme. They just pump my ego. Sometimes that’s nice but honestly happiness for me and my son is best.

  • Celine
    Dec 5, 2020 at 7:44 am

    I don’t think it’s just your ego - getting validation from the outside world about how good you’re doing at a job means something. That your perspective of your good work isn’t just your own opinion, others see it too. It’s a nice thing to receive :)

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