thoughts

What is success?

I've been talking to a lot of people about success, career paths, and life trajectories, and I hear a lot of, "I don't know what I want to do next -- or at all," which is paralyzing.

I've gone through cycles of acute doubt, anxiety, and directionlessness too – they suck. But today, though I'm no closer to being a prophet, I've gotten a lot more comfortable with future question marks. Through some Paulo Coehlo-esque cosmic conspiring, I've been lucky to have coffee with many incredible people with crazy, non-linear, and awesomely inspiring stories, and they've cemented into me that anything is possible, and things all come together someday.

I'm still having these coffees, and in the spirit of 52 Cups of Coffee, I'm going to share what I learn along the way. I'm not sure how yet, but I think it's important to. My friend Nate, when I ran this by him, agreed and said: 

Successful people were so mystified in my community... It was completely understood that a successful career was an anomaly. I would have benefitted just by understanding that a trajectory to success actually exists in any path.

With a little less luck, I still might not know that the world is full of opportunities. That thought is a big part of my impetus for writing here. A few early ideas that I want to continue exploring: 

Success is very personal.

Obvious, I know. But before you start mapping out the rest of your career and life, it's important to think about what you value and what makes you happy – and it's okay if those things are different for you than they are for your friends and family. It's also okay if those things change. Kenny, my cousin and a thinker I admire a lot, had this to say about defining and prioritizing goals:

Prioritization is hard, because the value of any particular goal/want/need is always shifting. 

From a personal anecdote: I didn't really place much value on family in the first few years after graduating, but that changed dramatically over the course of a few hours when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. So I think a lot of prioritization is asking yourself what works for you in two main time frames: "Am I satisfied with [the order of my priorities] right now?" and "Will I be satisfied with this in the future (if things change)?"

There's always room to grow, often in a lot of arenas.

My friends who are 53 say the same thing as my friends who are 42 and 21: You're always learning more about yourself and more about the world. Seek those learnings out. Be open to them. They're exciting. 

There's no set path.

When I first started having these coffees, I was trying to reverse engineer a formula for success. Instead, I'm realizing that it's possible, with the right tools and mindset, to create success and find fulfillment, no matter where you're starting from. 

We should be able to create more opportunities than we find, and I think access to diverse perspectives is an important part of making that possible. So, once I figure out how and what to share (likely over these next few months), I'll start filling up these pages. 

Stay tuned.