Similarly, let’s say that we have a day trader who starts with a modest $10,000 portfolio. Within a week, he’s able to double that portfolio and the growth continues to be steady. Again, I think we’d all agree that this investor has been quite successful. However, is it really fair to say that all success and all happiness needs to be discretely measurable?
The Benchmark for Success
Many of us were taught that setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is the way to go. This way, you have a direction to follow and an end destination in mind. Part of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is to ensure that they are measurable and specific. Telling yourself that you want to “lose weight” isn’t nearly as powerful as saying that you want to “lose 10 pounds by Christmas.”
This establishes a specific benchmark for success. It’s quantifiable, so you know exactly whether or not you’ve achieved this goal. At the same time, you could find yourself in the situation where you are dangling a carrot on a stick. Coming out of school, you may be happy earning $30,000 a year. When you reach that goal, you aim for $40k, then $50k, and so on. When is it good enough? When can you deem yourself truly successful?
It’s All Relative
I use the context of wealth, because we can all relate. And in this sense, we seem to gauge our success in a relative sense. If you surround yourself by billionaires and you are “only” a multi-millionaire, you may not feel nearly as successful. If you have the exact same amount of wealth, but most of your peers are not millionaires, then you may feel more successful.
But that’s just one aspect. What about all the other factors that go into that feeling of success? What about all the other things in life that make you happy?
The Immeasurable Intangibles
And this is where you really find yourself wondering whether real success and real happiness can be measured at all. If you have all the riches in the world, but no loved ones around you, are you truly successful? If you earned that Olympic gold medal, but you sacrificed all other areas of your life to achieve it, can you be happy in the long term?
What about the value that you may place on leisure time? What about those precious little moments that are truly invaluable and can never be replaced? Life is far too complex and putting everything against a measuring stick will only have to missing out on the rest of the human experience. Yes, set S.M.A.R.T. goals and shoot for the stars, but don’t forget to smell a few flowers and share a few hugs along the way too.