Redefining Success

One thing that people don’t tend to tell you when you’re young is that success shouldn’t just be one eventual endpoint. For me, at least, growing up there was a specific idea of success that everyone was expected to adhere to – college and maybe a master’s degree followed by a stable job and financial security. Apart from that, there didn’t seem to be much else. There was no guideline for how to enjoy yourself, to find meaningful relationships or just be happy, as though these parts of life weren’t aspects of  “success.” Coupled with my tendency for perfectionism, this restricted perspective of success became all I was striving for. 

I gradually fell into the mindset that life was just one thing after the other, and though I worked towards each milestone consistently, it was hard to really feel a sense of accomplishment at any point. When I graduated from high school, for example, I didn’t find myself feeling much different. There was a bit of relief, of course, and some sense of excitement, but in my mind I was going off to college, and that was just another checkpoint I had to reach before moving onto the next. I think in my pursuit of that final image of “success,” I’ve missed out on celebrating and learning from a lot of the experiences I’ve already had, forgetting all of the things I worked at to get to where I was in favor of a single-minded focus on what I had to do next. Instead of each event being an individual instance of achievement, they’ve all been routinely filed away as just another step towards that final idea of “success”. 

Not to say that this a “wrong” way of living – it’s a good thing to work towards long-term goals, after all – but it was a method that wasn’t really working for me anymore. The idea of chasing after some “final” state  of great success was wearing me down, and it made me wonder when I would actually get to enjoy myself instead. I started noticing that I was putting off many of the things that I wanted to do, telling myself that I would travel or try new experiences only once I was financially stable and “successful,” regardless of how much I wanted to do so in the present. It struck me one day that if I kept on putting off the things that I enjoy and want to do until some eventual “later,” how do I know I won’t continue to put those things off for some other sense of duty when that later finally comes? What if I end up delaying my gratification forever, until I eventually lose the opportunity to enjoy myself at all? The thought of this scared me. 

In the aftermath of this realization, I’ve been working on redefining what that feeling of “success” should be. While I definitely am still working towards all of those predetermined goals, I’ve been trying to move away from thinking of them as the be all and end all of my efforts. Research has shown that understanding goals and achievements as a journey, with a focus on the process that led to the goal, helps people retain motivation and positive habits they’ve built up throughout their journey. That’s the sort of mindset I want to put myself in. Instead of working single-mindedly towards a specific goal while forgetting almost everything else, I want to take it slow, working just as hard as before, but allowing myself to enjoy the things I want to do. By redefining success as sustaining my ability to work hard towards my goals, I can move the emphasis away from the achievement itself, and start to realize how the process of getting to my goals has enriched my life. 

Use this student discount for a bit of self-care in preparation for taking on another day!

By: Fiona Lin

Fiona Lin is a rising senior at New York University’s Abu Dhabi Campus pursuing a double major in Literature and Creative Writing and Art and Art History. She enjoys traveling, drinking tea, and learning new languages. In her free time, you can find her reading web novels or playing video games.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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