I recently wrote a piece about signs that show you’re successful, and received a lot of positive feedback on it. Without them falling all the way into “imposter syndrome,” a lot of people apparently feel less successful than they really are.
That motivated me to think more about the topic, and I came up with some additional signs that a person is truly successful.
In many ways, it’s a mistake to think that wealth is the best way to keep score as to who is successful and who is not. The bumper sticker “Whoever dies with the most toys wins” is totally wrong-headed, from my point of view.
On the other hand, income does tend to flow to successful people, although not necessarily in precise proportion to one’s level of success.
So the bottom line here is that if you are regularly able to pay your bills and not fretting all the time about money, then in a very important sense you are successful.
Studies have shown that the quality of your relationships is the most important indicator of your lifelong personal happiness. Regardless of what today’s social media try to convey, most of us have only a few really close relationships: people we deeply trust and can talk to about what’s super-important to us. But that’s enough.
At the other end of the spectrum are people we don’t enjoy: people who offend us, anger us, irritate us, or otherwise rub us the wrong way. These tend to be the people we prefer to eliminate from our circle of relationships, or at least avoid as often as possible.
Having a few close positive relationships and relatively few negative ones is therefore a reliable sign that you’re successful.
Think about the times you’ve been involved in conversations with people and they suddenly hit you up for a favor, for advice, for help, or even for money. To the extent this person “needs” what they’re asking for, they haven’t reached the level of self-sufficiency associated with success.
Of course, successful people often ask for help, and often benefit from receiving it. But they’re not “needy” about it. They are not dependent on others, and can usually achieve what they want pretty much on their own.
Your ability to make progress toward your goals without depending on one-way handouts from others is another sign that you’re successful.
We’ve all known people who lack personal confidence. As a result, they are unwilling to make their own decisions, unable to enjoy their own situations, and unlikely to feel satisfied within their own skin. They habitually and unconsciously reach out to others for attention, validation and praise.
Successful people, on the other hand, generally don’t need input from others to feel they are doing well and making good choices. They tend to be satisfied with who they are, what they do, and how they make their way through the world.
To the extent you’re satisfied with yourself, you’re successful.
Many of the people you meet from one day to the next lack a higher purpose. They spend the bulk of their time and energy just coping with the intricacies and difficulties of navigating through their work and their life.
But there are others who feel we have an important purpose to accomplish in this world. We may be focused on something as basic as being a good parent, or we may feel a drive to make the world a better place, whether that means ending poverty and hunger or simply telling funnier jokes.
Whatever higher purpose you may feel, simply having one is an additional sign that you’re successful.
Fundamentally, your success is not accurately determined by comparisons with others. This is because the world is not a zero-sum game. Rather, your level of success is best judged only in relation to your own values, your own levels of skill, knowledge, and talent, the role you play in the world, and your own ability to achieve whatever is most important to you.
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