Define Success for Yourself

I no longer own a car or drive with any regularity, and I have never felt more free.

Over my lifetime I have owned three homes. Today, I live in a one-bedroom apartment and have never felt more at home.

I do not have the latest mobile technology, and I have never felt more connected.

I may seem a failure to those whose main focus is cars, homes, and gadgets, yet I have never felt more successful. I wake each day contented, peaceful, and fulfilled, and more in love with life. No thing has ever offered me this.

It took many years to identify what success means to me. Each time I look at my dog, I am reminded of what a joy it is to responsibly provide for their well-being. Today, people tell me they want to come back as my pet. When I think of purchasing a car, fuel efficiency and environmental and financial responsibility top my list of must-haves. Instead of surrounding myself with many items, I save up and purchase fewer things of better quality. Years ago, I learned that no matter what the item is, whether toilet paper, toys, or appliances, cheap is actually quite expensive, since something of inferior quality neither lasts as long nor is as reliable, and so much waste negatively impacts the environment.

I am no longer impressed with people who set my worth by what I wear, what I own, where I live, and what I drive. After successfully climbing out of the turbulent waters of debt, living within my means has become an important standard I’ve set for myself.

While I do not have the car or home or popular technology, I am free of debt. Each day I enjoy friends, family, strangers, and the breathtaking beauty that surrounds me. I am free of the burden of too much stuff. Every day I work on doing my part to make the world a better, more peaceful, cleaner, more cooperative place. I am connected to my heart, to other people, to the natural world, and to our planet. I am in command of and responsible for my thoughts and behavior. I am at home in my charming apartment as well as in my heart. Now these are my benchmarks for success.

There is nothing wrong with having wealth, positions, and honors. I believe what we want to receive from life and what we want to leave as our legacy are important questions to ask. Regardless of what other people use as their benchmarks, we have to define success for ourselves. If the only thing we achieve in life is a reputation for being compassionate, honest, and responsible, that is legacy enough.