How To Be A Big Success

Do you want to be successful?!? Sure, we all do!!

Yet what does success really mean? I suppose this can be subjective from individual to individual, but I think it goes without saying that the United States in particular is a very success driven society. And success in the US only means two things: Money and Fame. You could probably throw Power in there too, and then make it some combination of all three. People often judge each other on how much of each they have accumulated, and many break their back daily to achieve more. Even our presidents are often voted into office simply by virtue of the fact that they have achieved financial success or media fame. If they have been successful in these avenues, then surely they’re fit to run the country. They are the apotheosis of all that is most important in society. Everything else is secondary, and those who have not achieved Money, Fame and Power are worthless losers fit only for the glue factory. The poor, the sick, the elderly, even the average, had best get out of the way lest they block the heaven-like ascent of their Darwinian superiors…

All this driven desire for success can create a lot of pressure on us as a whole. I know for myself, sometimes I start listening to the voices in my head judging me for all that I haven’t accomplished. Should I have more money? Own property? Be more ambitious? How does my career compare with my high school classmates? There’s nothing worse than comparing yourself to others. Something in our society continually nags at us to always have these highfalutin’ goals that we’re always supposed to be pursuing, even at the expense of family lives, romantic lives, sleep and even our own sanity. Even when we achieve them, we’re supposed to remain dissatisfied and go on to achieve even more. You have a BA- go and get an MA. Oh, done with that,? Now go get a PhD!

What’s wrong with sometimes simply just being satisfied with what we have? There’s plenty of people out there in the world who are more than happy to just do a non-stressful job, come home and have their money for beer, video games and maybe little weed. An apartment, burritos for dinner, bbq’s on the weekend in the sun. Why is that considered abnormal somehow? Are we all supposed to be perpetually so ambitious all the time? And at what price?

In the town of Palo Alto, home of Stanford University and not far from Silicon Valley (apparently the pinnacle of success these day), high school age suicides rates are the highest in the country. According to many articles written about these kids, who are by and large very affluent and attending the best schools with the best life chances laid out before them like a red carpet, the pressure on them to be “the best” is insane. Even if the parents don’t singularly pressure their children to get into Harvard, the culture that surrounds them is implicit- whether they realize it or not. Does it make you a big disappointment if you don’t go on to become the Billionaire CEO of a technology startup? What if you just ended up opening a cafe instead, greeting the regular customers who came in and provided a chill, welcoming place for your neighborhood to socialize. Is one more “of merit” than the other?

It’s just never seemed that way to me. I cannot ever understand how spending the majority of my waking life clicking the enter key all day in a cubicle, stressed out as fuck, can ever be measured as some sort of benchmark of “success”. Sure, we can’t avoid work, but dying unfulfilled after a squandered life is nothing to boast about either. Our time on this Earth is merely transitory, and I hope that I can make the most out of it to the best of my ability.

Success to me is pursuing my dreams as they are individually true to me. And before I’m gone, more than anything else, I hope to have seen the strange foreign lands that come to me in my dreams. I hope to have done all the things that I wanted to do. As a Bohemian, money, prestige, fame and boasting rights have never really interested me. In fact, I don’t think I could ever be motivated enough to try and sacrifice my life simply to gain these things that don’t matter to me. I choose to fill my life with pleasure, adventure, music and passion. Life is to be cherished.

So what is success anyway when it comes down to it? Does he who dies with the most toys wins?

2 thoughts on “How To Be A Big Success

  1. This is a big question I’ve been struggling with for the past couple of years in my own life and it’s tied into the whole ‘what do I really want out of life’ question which for me personally is not easy to resolve.

    I think the problem is that from the moment we’re born, we’re conditioned to understand our success as how well we’re performing economically (from watching TV ads, movies, magazines and even our parents), because that’s what’s valued by capitalist society. Success then becomes tied up with our ideas of self-worth. If we’re not accumulating money or things like Mr. Big across the street, we feel like a failure. Se we live our lives by principles that allow us buy to feel like a success. And if we can’t do that, we blame and question ourselves rather than the system.

    Constant self-evaluation, questioning and focusing on personal growth is probably the only way to beat it. In other words, putting ourselves before the system. Am I, me, my unique self, happier with a high paying job that affords me a new car but no time or am I happier with a lower paying job that gives me less money but more time to read, cook and spend time with my family?

    When we’re brave enough to ask and answer those kind of questions for the better of ourselves and not the system, I think we’ve found our own path to success.

    • Post Author Greg Goldblatt

      Hi Tracey,

      I think you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head. I think answering “what do I really want out of life” is a very difficult question, and its OK for that answer to change as we go through different periods in life. At 18, it was probably just going out with my friends to parties that had girls there and that was it! I like to think I’m a little less superficial and more introspective these days.

      Society can definitely place a lot of pressure on us as human beings to “produce” (even if that pressure is implicit) and somehow we end up comparing ourselves to others and feeling bad about it. But unless you’re Warren Buffet, there’s always going to be someone who has more than you. I with you: I’d rather have a job that pays less $$$ that leave me TIME and energy to be with my loved ones and pursue artistic outlets and travel. The trick is to find that balance…

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