How to Have a Successful Life

 Many people in other lands aspire to come to the United States to have a successful life. They believe it to be the land of opportunity, yet 98% of Americans are never successful by any definition, even their own. Some few are successful by almost any definition, like Robin Williams an extraordinary comedian who had a very large cult following, fame, and fortune, yet he committed suicide! I am now 83 and it is time for me to look back and ask the question, was my life a success? In order to answer that question, I need to define what is a successful life? This is not an easy question and possibly no two people would totally agree but it seems like an important subject, so I am going to try,

Measuring Success

We all come with some gifts and handicaps, so success must be measured against our own capabilities. Arnold Swartenager developed his body to the top of world-class standards and has certainly become a success in life. You or I may not have had a body type for that to ever be a possibility, and Arnold may never be able to compose a symphony. So a good start on a working definition of success would be to achieve a large part of our individual potential. Therefore I conclude that early in life it is important to know ourselves, our IQ, personality type, physical capability, social skills, etc. I am an extreme introvert so achieving fame and having paparazzi following me would never seem like success to me.

I did go from extreme poverty, living in a converted chicken coop, to having two moderately sensational homes in two countries and both a power speedboat and a 42 Ft sailboat. That level of success made me a target for people looking for easy money and I never learned to be comfortable in that position. If I had known more about myself and what success could be for me, I might not have spent years on a path to frustration. 

Get to Know Yourself

So, if you want your life to be a success, I suggest that your first project is to really get to know yourself, and peel away any self-deception. Your ego will survive, and you will be better equipped to succeed. If you Google Myers Briggs free Personality test, you can find out which of 16 personality types you are. If I had done this earlier,  I might have made better mating choices and created a better definition of personal success.

Know Your Destination

In navigation and in seeking success it greatly helps if you know your destination. Many people just think that it is having piles of money, but that brings a whole new set of problems that may be great for others, but not necessarily for you. If you are a people-pleaser and you want to be the next Mother Teresa, and help as many poor people as possible, you will certainly have a different vision than someone who wants to be a business mogul and the richest man in the country. Try writing your personal statement describing your vision of success and read and edit it weekly till you are satisfied that it fits you. If you know where you want to go, you are much more likely to get there.

Ask for What You Want

Once you have a clear vision, the next step is to ask for what you want, find ten people who have achieved your vision and ask them to mentor you to follow in their footsteps. Even if most ignore your request and only a few offer a single suggestion, you will be so much closer to your goal. Keep on asking the world for what you want. You will not get it every time, but if you persist you will be moved in the right direction. Those who do not ask fail to get help100% of the time.

Make Failure Your Friend

If you want successful life, make failure your friend. Colonel Sanders failed over 100 times before he sold his first fried chicken franchise. If he had feared hearing NO he would never have become successful. Failure should not be our only teacher, but it may be the best one! Perseverance really does pay. Each failure puts you one step closer to success, and it should be analyzed to see where you can do better next time.

Be the characteristics that you need in order to succeed. If you want honesty, be honest. If you want loyalty be loyal. You tend to reap what you sow or harvest what you plant. If you spend much time with toxic people you may become one and your chances of success are then nil.

Has My Life Been a Success?

Has my own life been a success? Yes, and no. I have had many failures, like four divorces, but I have finally have had a relationship that I will cherish and nurture as long as I live. I have explored the depths of poverty and the heights of wealth long enough to have learned that both can produce grief and that true happiness can best be found in the land of “Just Enough”. For me, making anything better than it was, gives meaning to my life. Be it a product, a company, or a dog’s life. When I am gone the best compliment that I could receive is “He made the world a better place to be.” That would be a major success!

In Summary

In summary: Know yourself and create a definition of success that fits you. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, and do it repeatedly. Get comfortable with failure for it is the best teacher. Give to others what you want to receive. Don’t hang with toxic people. That should do it.

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