How we define success is very much shaped by society. I remember when I was young, all I could focus on was career, independence - Income... I thought success was directly related to my bank balance, my home and its contents and my car. On a mentorship call I was holding with a group of people on my Rockstar programme I recently used the analogy of the Doctor and the Dinner Lady, I wanted to share this with you.
First of all, we all define success in our own way. If I asked a group of people who's more successful in life, stereotypically, a Doctor or a Dinner Lady, my guess is a majority of the group would say the Doctor.
I left school and home at 16 years old (against everyone's advice), I worked as an employee until the age of 23 when I moved abroad and started my own business. During those 7 years I spent most of my life in employment, I would take a holiday for a week or two every year, for those 2 weeks I'd feel relaxed, connected to life, it was like plugging into a feeling of bliss, with the warm sun on my face, the ocean breeze in my hair, until smack - I got on the plane home, and the other 50 weeks of the year were stressful, cold (I'm from England), and a bit of a drag Monday through Friday, but I was earning good money, I wore a suit to work, had a nice car, and was considered by my colleagues, friends and family as "successful".
So what does this have to do with a Doctor and a Dinner Lady?
The common automatic response is that because the doctor is a doctor, she (or he) is more successful, but what if that doctor works long hours, often nights, commutes, hardly sees their kids, or spouse, and can't remember the last time they took a proper day off let alone a holiday? On top of the stress of the job (which they may have ended up in not by choice, or because of fulfilling a passion, but because it was expected of them by their parents, or society), and most likely a lot of bills to pay, student loans, car, house etc... Is it all worth it?
So of course I'm painting a stereotype here, and this doctor is completely fictional, but I'd bet there are many doctors out there who would identify with the description.
Then you have the Dinner Lady, also a fictional made up person, but let's check this out. She loves to cook, and gets to do that everyday, she also has kids, so the job allows her to be off school when they're off school and she has a lot of quality time with herself to read, chill out etc... She doesn't have a huge salary, but she also doesn't have a mountain of debt. She gets to finish work early and spend time doing what she loves.
In these 2 scenarios, I'd say the Dinner Lady was more successful than the doctor - because of the quality of her life.
Back in 2005, I sold my house, quit my job, and left the UK, I decided that whatever I was going to do in my life, I wanted to have that feeling of being on holiday Every-Single-Day. Having the freedom to go out and experience and capture that moment of knowing that there would be no 'going back to reality' and I have been pretty successful at that.
I haven't needed a week's holiday, 2 week's holiday or any holiday for the last 10 years, because I LIVE the holiday. I go where I want, when I want, I have my family with me and I run my business online, which allows me that freedom.
How you decide to define success is a very personal thing, but perhaps think of the reasons why you would consider someone successful or not. The most important factor to consider in my opinion is not the quality of our home or car, but the quality of how we are able spend our time, and if it's our own choice, whether that be as a doctor, a dinner lady or a virtual assistant ;-)