Building Blocks for a Life Lived Well
This week, a potential new client asked how I define
success. She was asking about my philosophy and priorities,
but we quickly started talking about how I measure "true
success." What are we trying to achieve? What does
happiness really look like?
Obviously, these are huge questions and the answers will be
different for each of us. I'm pretty sure the answers
change as we go through life. Success is very different for
a teenager than for a woman in her 80's. The trappings of
success may be different for different cultures, and even
men and women may measure a "great life" somewhat
But whatever our individual answers, I'm convinced that
clarity about how we measure success and defining the life
we truly want are two of the most important tasks for any
adult. Living according to someone else's definition of
success can lead to incredible tragedy. It abdicates our
unique gift as human beings to make our own decisions and
live our lives in our own way.
Peter Drucker observed that the ultimate failure is to do
very well "that which need not be done at all." Others have
noted that the worst failure is to struggle up the ladder
of success, only to reach the top and find it was leaning
against the wrong wall. Over 2500 years ago, Socrates said
that "the unexamined life is not worth living."
I'm not sure I would go that far--a life that is, so far,
unexamined, may awaken at any moment! Nevertheless, I think
it is useful to wake up, smell the roses, and make our own
decisions as early in life as possible.
To arrive at your own definition of success and set your
course in life, I often encourage clients to begin by
looking at some of life's "big pieces." Success and
happiness may be more than getting all the pieces in the
right place, but getting the big pieces right is a worthy
I suggest the following for your consideration:
- Career or vocational success. Get very good at what you
do. Make your maximum contribution. Become an expert. Take
pride in your work and earn respect for your ability to
produce amazing results in record time. How do you define
success in your career?
- Money and finances. Money isn't everything, but it
beats being poor. In a world with so much wealth and so
many opportunities, managing money and saving for the
future, investing wisely, and enjoying the fruits of our
labor are a key component of living well. How do you define
success in financial terms?
- Health and well-being. Some illness or injury come to
each of us, but over time, taking care of our bodies,
eating well, getting plenty of rest and exercise seem to be
good things. Laughing seems to help. There is truth in the
old saying, "Use it or lose it." Move. Stretch. Dance.
Play. Take care of your body.
- Spirituality and faith. My grandmother taught me that,
"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for
anything." Figure out what you believe about life and
purpose, about the future and about the goodness (or
badness) of our fellow humans. What is life all about? Why
are you here?
- Fun and celebration. "All work and no play makes Jack
(and Jill) very dull." Some of us are so ambitious in terms
of work or money that we fail to relax and enjoy life. Ride
the roller-coasters. Explore mountain-tops. Play with
children. Make love. Be silly and try new stuff. If you
fall down, pick yourself up and try again. Enjoy ice cream.
With fudge and a cherry on top!
- Education and personal development. This week, Bill
Gates observed that one of his regrets is that for all his
wealth and achievement, he speaks only one language. Take
music lessons. Ready history. Travel widely. Try new foods,
new ideas, and new points of view. Stretch your brain as
well as your body.
You may have other big pieces. Or, you may feel some of my
suggestions don't work for you. Fine! But figure out the
building blocks of a great life, and pursue them. By the
end of 2015, you can have, do, or become just about
anything you truly want. You can learn a language, visit
China, fall in love, or start a business. What I encourage
you avoid is wasting time. Define the building blocks of a
great life and, day by day, focus on them. Make this your
year to achieve greatness.
Dr Humbert is a Success Strategist, author and popular speaker. Imagine what's possible! To inquire about having him speak to your group or organization, or to schedule an initial coaching consultation, contact him
or visit his site at Philip Humbert.com