Defining Success

by Ron DuBois on June 4, 2011

Looking at your Be Do Have list should give you a very clear idea of what you really want out of life. I’d like you to consider two things as we move forward. First, your Be Do Have list is likely to change over time. As you go through the process of becoming, doing, and getting it is normal to make adjustments. This is not the same thing as allowing yourself to get sidetracked or misdirected though. Keep one eye on the long term goal and the other on the next step you can take in that direction.

The second consideration is how will you define success. What will success look like, feel like, smell like, and taste like to you? Who will be there to share it with you? This is a personal question, one you don’t need any one else’s input to discover. The more clearly you define your success criteria the more likely you are to achieve it.

Many people start this process thinking that financial freedom is their top goal. Defining success for this goal, like many others, is a moving target. Let’s consider this for a moment. How much cash would you need to achieve true financial freedom? 30 years ago you might have said a Million Dollars would be sufficient. Today, however, you probably realize this just wouldn’t cut it for most people. A decent annuity with a million dollars would pay out about $35,000 a year. Depending on your age and life expectancy you could draw down principle too, but where is the freedom in that?

This can be depressing, especially if you’re looking at a situation where that million is about a million and a half away from where currently see yourself. So again, I challenge you to define success as something other than a dollar amount. I’m not saying money isn’t important. In fact it will soon be the sole focus of this blog. And even if you are a million and a half short of that million I’ll show you how to climb out of that hole. The purpose of money is what we can do with it, not simply an exercise in seeing who can attain the most of it.

When I was a kid I used to dream of being a philanthropist. Andrew Carnegie was my secret idol. I read his biography when I was 13 and I was inspired by what I could do with all that money. I dreamed of endowments, charitable trusts, and a lasting legacy. Problem was I couldn’t see the how I would ever get there. I started mowing lawns and saved up a bunch of money – then I spent it all. It just wasn’t enough “give” away.

It took me a good 30 years to realize that I didn’t have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist. I’m going to write a section about what Andrew Carnegie called “glad giving.” I might lose a few of you there, but if you stick with me you’ll find that this concept can transform your life.

Take a minute and share your definition of success below.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Fritz Lecomte October 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Wow! Thank you! I constantly needed to write on my site something like that. Can I implement a part of your post to my site?


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