This I Believe
I believe that the definition of success in comparison to ones achievements in life is truly in the eye of the beholder. I have always found it interesting when a person describes another person as being successful. Moreover, it is downright condescending to label someone as unsuccessful. What criteria does one use to determine another person’s success? More often than not, it is the criteria that society has established for us. Sadly, these benchmarks are widely used by many people to determine their own success and the success of their family, friends, and neighbors.
Everyday we are provided with images of what society defines as success. Network and cable television are full of shows depicting the financially wealthy in reality or fantasy format. However, there are many shows involving the so called downtrodden. Financial means and material possessions are taken into great consideration when success is determined under society’s definition. It is such a motivating factor in people’s lives that our country has the highest debt to income per household in the entire world. Consequently, the strive to keep up with our neighbors results in poor financial decisions on a daily basis that often lead to serious problems down the road. We are offered interest only mortgages so we can live in the larger house that we really can not afford. Leasing a Mercedes is now an option for the person who can not make the initial down payment and the subsequent higher payments leading towards ownership. Sadly, these options are widely put to use. Striving for the image of success in our society is so powerful that we are given the option to paint a false picture of reality. The image of success may be present. However, true happiness is often lacking when we let society determine if we are successful. If we are not happy, can we truly be successful?
Many years ago, I realized that I am the only one who can truly determine if I am successful or not. To do this, I needed to discover what was truly important to me. Over the years I came to realize that getting married and having a family of my own was on my mind more than my career or the material items that I wanted to purchase. In fact, when thinking about my future, most of my thoughts were devoted to figuring out how to be the best husband and father that I could be. I determined that my best course of action was to put my future family above everything else. I decided to never purchase things that I could not afford because of my desire to provide my family with a comfortable life free of financial instability. I decided that I would not seek a career that required fifty plus hours a week of my time, no matter what the salary may be. I decided that my success would be realized when I am in the final years of my life. In those years, I will know that my career, the size of my house, and the model of car that I drove will be truly insignificant to me. When I possess all of the wonderful memories of my family and friends, and the knowledge that they loved me, then and only then will I be able to label my life as a success.
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