Traditionally, success has been defined by external indicators such as wealth, career titles, and material possessions. Society has conditioned many to believe that achieving these milestones equates to a successful life. However, research and shifting societal perspectives are beginning to challenge this notion, emphasizing the importance of purpose and intrinsic motivation.
A report by Deloitte, "The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020," reveals that millennials prioritize their lives differently from previous generations. Whereas earlier generations may have prioritized financial success, 46% of millennials feel that their purpose in life is to be happy. This underscores a shift towards personal fulfillment and a holistic definition of success.
Renowned psychologist Edward Deci's research delves into the intricacies of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Deci found that while extrinsic motivators (like money and titles) can drive behavior, they don't necessarily fulfill our inner needs and can even diminish intrinsic motivation. On the contrary, intrinsic motivation, driven by a sense of purpose, often leads to more sustained effort and satisfaction.
Purpose, as a driver of success, goes beyond mere happiness. It contributes to longevity, productivity, and overall well-being. In "The Blue Zones," Dan Buettner studies communities around the world where people live the longest and pinpoints purpose (or having a reason to get up in the morning) as a crucial factor in their longevity.
Furthermore, a study in the "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry" highlights the protective effects of purpose on mental health. It reveals that individuals with a higher sense of purpose have lower odds of suffering from anxiety or depression. This is a testament to the profound power of purpose in cultivating not just success, but also resilience and mental wellness.
Reimagining success means recognizing the interconnectedness of our professional and personal lives. While financial stability and career progression are essential, they are just parts of a larger tapestry. True success encompasses a deep sense of purpose, meaningful relationships, mental well-being, and the pursuit of personal growth.
To truly redefine success for oneself:
Reflect on Personal Values: Instead of pursuing what society deems successful, identify what genuinely matters to you. Aligning with personal values provides a deeper sense of fulfillment.
Pursue Purposeful Goals: Set goals that resonate with your inner passions and purpose, instead of merely focusing on external achievements.
Prioritize Mental Well-being: Understand that the journey to success can be demanding. Prioritize mental health and find ways to maintain balance.
Redefining success means looking beyond mere external achievements and understanding that true fulfillment lies in purpose-driven pursuits. While wealth and titles have their place, it's essential to recognize that real success is multi-dimensional and deeply personal.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. Plenum.
Buettner, D. (2008). The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books.
Kim, E. S., Sun, J. K., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2013). Purpose in life and reduced incidence of stroke in older adults: 'The Health and Retirement Study'. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 74(5), 427-432.