Success Has a Problem with Definition

“The accomplishment of an aim or purpose” as defined by dictionaries. In reality, almost always just an aim—rarely a purpose. Life purpose—one of the topics my psychotherapy and coaching clients have in common. Not a problem. The problem is we often end up juggling thoughts around their career plans. Maybe success but a very narrow view of purpose.

(Related reading: Changing Your Ways in Life)

How can a shift in your career destroy it

The scary idea of a slight deviation from the set career path seems to hang over the whole course of our future. And we strive to keep going. Like we said we would. Like we always thought we should. Whereto though?  And how much planning does one need to really make it?

Schooling for our success or the success of schooling?

Although a herd of sheep has a clear purpose, so we are not there yet, it seems. But the society and schooling is persistent in getting us there. And we comfortably agreed, to be honest. Moreover, we are following the crowd, clueless on where it is headed. We also are completely unaware that we hold our own path and destination.

As we succeed, is this our own success, the success we owe to schooling or the success of the schooling and education system in cookie cutting us?

We are taught about success from the moment we are born. But, being taught beforehand, and not having the opportunity to learn ourselves, deprives us of a personal perspective. And we are promised that it’s for the better and for our own good.

While we are persistently fed assumptions on how success can be earned, we never question or test. And then you see others getting it but not earning it.

Then, all of a sudden we realise we do not know the point of it all. And this is when it begins to hurt. This is where things lose their shine and are left without meaning. Realising we blindly pursued a false ambition leaves us grasping for air—anxiety, panic attacks. Yes, the time passed by quickly. What to do now?

The becoming

Education for becoming box standard. This is how, in fact, our view on success and ‘making it’ is formulated.

The purpose of education is to enforce and sustain conformity and softly take care of detours. Or, better to say, to prevent any detours. Our careers turn into synonyms of us as beings. And we slowly succumb to acknowledging ourselves by what we do or, better, what we are programmed to do.

Individual anatomy is left to brew somewhere in between your dreams, arts and workday mornings, when the system is expecting you to turn up. And you do. The best the rebel in you can do is catch the next train and run half hour late. This is what you consider ‘taking control’, but you still blame it on the ‘signal failure’. What kind of control is that?

Doomed to fail or changing the way?

I once spoke to one of my clients who would not quit his job even though it made him miserable. He wouldn’t do it even despite the fact that he already had other offers on the table. And the reason was him seeing it as a shift that would change his life. He thought that not sticking to the initial plan set out from university, would mean failing.

It was not the first time I had heard this. People build their CVs as a reflection of who they are and even treat themselves as certificates. See my certificate—see me? A flawless CV will bring success. But hang on a minute. What is a flawless CV?

If you wake up and realise you don’t feel like turning up—let’s say even for weeks in a row—what do you do?

What is the point?