What is so wrong about striving for success?

Saw this tweet earlier

Hey… what is so wrong about striving for success?

Pardon me for being a semantics geek.


success (noun):
* the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for
* the achieving of desired results, or someone or something that achieves positive results

So, “success” is just “desirable outcome”. Of course we should be striving for that.

What could go wrong in striving for success?

The problem comes (the issue the original tweet was actually raising) when:

  1. we don’t know or only have a vague idea what that outcome is,
  2. we strive for outcomes other people desire for us (explicit, mostly conscious), or
  3. we strive for outcomes we think we should desire (implicit, mostly unconscious)

How do you define “success”?

Or better: How can you define success? In how many ways can you define success?

First dimension: by time

Think about what:

  • A successful day
  • A successful week
  • A successful month
  • A successful quarter
  • A successful year
  • A successful decade
  • A successful life

would look like to you?

Second dimension: by project / context

Any project, goal, or plan you’d like to accomplish or hit?

Third dimension: by role

  • As a friend
  • As a daughter
  • As an employee

And obviously these dimensions are not mutually exclusive. You can combine these together.

The more specific, the better. E.g. “a successful month for this project would be […]

Any other dimensions make sense here?

Perhaps the first step to a better life is answering these Questions. What do I want, why do I want them, and do I dare to ask?

Asking is expecting

And expectation is the root of suffering, as well as pleasure. // Although you can be in pain but not suffer.

But what is life without making up goals and games to keep us entertained?

But remember as Naval famously quoted: desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. So decide what you’re game with and have fun.


Also published on Medium.

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