One of the most sought-after goals for all human beings is to be successful. Unfortunately, if you ask most people what being successful means, they find it difficult to tell you what their definition of success actually is.
Based on many years of reading about success and thinking about what I believe it really is, I have come up with a list of seven elements of success. Not all of these will ring true with everyone. Further, I am sure there are items that should be on my list which are not. Yet I think this list is a good starting point if you are willing to take the challenge of making success a goal and defining what that looks like for you.
The first and most basic element for success is peace of mind. This means that you are free from fear, stress, and anxiety. People who are exceptionally rich or talented can have peace of mind, but so can people who are poor or who choose to live with limited financial resources.
Neither wealth nor poverty – or anything in between – guarantees peace of mind. This is due to the fact that peace of mind is not a function of who you are, what you have, or what you do. Rather it is a function of what you expect from the world around you and how you interact with it.
Peace of mind is achieved when we reach a state of not worrying about day-to-day life. It means that we do not let events or the expectations of others create stress in our lives. It also means that we have reached a place where our progress in the areas mentioned later in this article have brought us to a point where our peace of mind is not being disrupted by the daily vicissitudes of life.
The next element of success is fundamental. It is to be in good health and be able to live an energetic and vital life. As I returned to my car on Thursday, after a positive annual check-up at the doctor, I had an added bounce in my step. My physician had just confirmed that I am in good health. It is extremely hard to achieve and experience success if you have health issues that sap your energy each day.
Third, and possibly most important, is having loving relationships. More than eighty percent of your ability to enjoy success is determined by your ability to get along with people. We were created to be with other people. It is a rare person who can be truly happy and successful without fulfilling relationships in his or her life.
I have, unfortunately, had many rich clients through the years who were lonely and unhappy people. They had great material wealth but suffered from extreme relationship poverty. Money can’t buy you happiness, but great relationships can.
Financial freedom is my fourth element of success. Note that I did not say being rich is key to success. Financial freedom is not having great wealth and always being trapped into the belief that you need more. I have met many people who reside in such a prison.
True financial freedom means that you no longer worry about money. It means that the questions of “What will it cost?” or “Can we afford it? do not drive your decision-making. There are many financially free people who live on a limited budget who are mentally rich. This is because they have few wants and are able to easily take care of their essential financial needs. They have achieved financial freedom without financial abundance.
Having a purpose to your life is also important to being successful. Successful people nearly always point to the satisfaction they get by helping a particular cause as something that brings them great satisfaction. The sense that we are contributing to something that can change people’s lives for the good is important. Worthy goals and ideals give us a sense of profound purpose. The intangible achievements touch us in the soul and provide us with the knowledge that the impact of our lives will carry on long after we are gone.
Good parenting is perhaps the best example of doing something worthwhile with your life. But there are many ways to impact the world around you even if you don’t have children. And, after you have raised a family, there is great value in pouring into the lives of your grandchildren or giving time to other important causes.
The sixth item in my list is knowledge of self. As I get older, I find I spend more and more time looking inward and trying to better understand who I am. The more self-understanding I gain, the more I desire to learn more about myself. The greater the knowledge I have about myself, the more I am able to be open and honest with others. This, in turn, leads to more friendships and deeper relationships with the important people in my life. The fact is that to better know and understand yourself allows you to know and love others more effectively.
Finally, success means that you have a level of personal fulfillment. In fact, I believe you can measure how successful you are by how you feel about yourself. Do you feel that you have actualized your potential? Do you feel like you have become everything you are capable of becoming? Or do you feel that you have under-achieved?
It is worth noting that you can reach a point in your life where you feel successful and fulfilled for a period of time and then suddenly not feel that way. This has happened to me several times in my life. Primarily, this is due to the fact that life is a journey which means success changes as we move down the path of life. Periodically we reach a fulfilled point in our lives but this does not often last for a long time.
Successful people will move in and out of the various elements listed above. Ultimately the key to success is a combination of two things: understanding and effort. Proper application of understanding and effort produces results. So, if we focus on the seven elements listed above (in other words, we understand those elements), and commit the required effort, we will achieve results that, deep in our soul, will give us peace of mind and an absolute personal assurance that we are successful.