As we trudge through the transformative, tumultuous and sometimes traumatic years of our 20s with our engines operating at full steam, it often feels like an inevitable fate is bound to befall us.
It might occur at a particular moment in which we suddenly find ourselves running on autopilot mode, thereby serving as a catalyst in sparking off an existential crisis where we begin questioning our raison d’être.
Under the subtle, yet strong influence of underlying messages and external voices, have we subconsciously allowed conventionally defined notions of success to diffuse into our minds over time?
Do we really unquestioningly believe that our toils and tribulations of everyday life are, in fact, leading us onward, forwards and towards the one, eventual goal and vision to which we all ultimately aspire?
As Alain de Botton says in his book, "Status Anxiety":
How should we, then, go about identifying our priorities? Perhaps, the first and most fundamental question to ask ourselves is, what does success mean to you, and is your existing notion of success your very own?
Do you define success in the form of a lavish apartment, a fancy car or the ability to continually possess the latest and most up-to-date material goods? Does success present itself to you in the form of a lucrative, prestigious job that whisks away all semblance of personal time you could have, leaving no room for personal pursuits?
Or would you identify a successful man on the basis of his having lived an impassioned, meaningful and worthwhile life, endlessly striving to make a positive difference in all that he does?
Success takes on a different definition in each of our individual dictionaries. To one, it could mean becoming a world-class ice skater, a travel writer who is able to write freely without constraints or a marine biologist living on an abandoned island deeply engaged in one’s own research.
To another, success could mean being a good mother, wife or role model. Regardless of the diversity of these interpretations, we should always seek our own personal definitions of what success entails, and subsequently strive towards it as best as we can.
In the same spirit, the Holstee Manifesto declares:
Here, we now stand, basking in the scintillating promise of possibilities.
We wield the power to make our own decisions and choices, which will, in turn, determine our eventual success in actualizing the could-bes in our lives, or conversely, our failures, as we might as easily fall into the dark abyss of could-have-beens.
Turn a full circle, 360 degrees, to infinite possibilities. Which direction would you take?
Each small step we now choose, every outwardly ordinary decision we now make, in fact commands the tremendous power to amplify itself in the resulting ripples of our lives, serving as a multiplier effect in the course of our lives thereafter.
A single decision made today could shift our direction by a mere degree at this point in time, but were we to fast forward our lives by a decade or two, this difference might have eventually made all the difference in the world.
We are all but airplanes, beginning our journeys on the same runways, each of us choosing a different direction towards which to fly. We take our places and we take off on our individual paths, lifting from the cement, finding ourselves free from the ground, buoyant, flying.
Someone else’s flight coordinates could have differed from yours by just a few degrees, but today, your aircraft might be en route to Germany, approaching Europe, while the other glimpses the peaks of Kilimanjaro in the distance.
As we soar towards our respective visions, may we always be mindful to develop our own compasses in life, to regularly recalibrate our coordinates and, most of all, to ceaselessly question the validity and authenticity of our notions of success. Ultimately, it is only in so doing we are able to truly become the authors of our very own ambitions.
Would you choose to begin writing your own story today?
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It