How Do You Measure SUCCESS? And Are Your Parents Proud of You?

– I  just turned 50.
– It’s the end of the year.
– My father had a heart attack yesterday.

– And I just watched
Everybody’s Fine!
NOT a good combination of things.

(If you have never seen the movie Everybody’s Fine, it’s about Frank (Robert De Niro) who just lost his wife, and without their mother by his side, Frank’s grown children aren’t compelled to visit for the holidays. So he hits the road to visit them — collecting various revelations and learning about himself along the way. Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell and Melissa Leo co-star in writer-director Kirk Jones’s family tale, an update of Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1990 Italian film.)

For the last few months, as I approached the big 50, I found myself reflecting on my life, where I have been, and what I have accomplished. I have been doing a lot of reading and soul-searching….

Many people think of fame and/or  fortune when they measure success. I have not achieved either, yet. I don”t need to be a millionaire (though that would be nice!) I just want to be happy, have my bills paid, make a comfortable living, have money for retirement to live on and not have to be stressed every month. Is that too much to ask for?  

I really thought by now, I would have a great income and be able to look ahead with some sense of security.
I’m always amazed when I see the retirement savings statistics. It’s a scary picture when you know how much money it actually takes to retire with security. I know how much it takes me to live RIGHT NOW. It’s going be MORE, not less, when I retire. My parents at least got their home paid off in their lifetime. Most of this  generation WILL NOT. Did you know that less than 5% of workers will achieve anything remotely close to financial security.

50 million Americans had 401(k) plans worth $2.5 trillion at the 2007 market top which subsequently lost over $1 trillion by October 2008 (even more since then!). Another $1 trillion in IRA assets vanished as well.

Over 60% of households are financially unprepared and lagging greatly on retirement savings.

Enough of THAT depressing topic!  At some point in life, most people come to realize that happiness, inner peace and soul-deep satisfaction come not from fame and fortune, but having lived a life based on integrity and noble character. I was taught to ALWAYS try my best….to do the RIGHT thing…to be a good person and to be responsible.

So I have been pondering….Personal Success… Who am I? Do I possess Character?   Am I a person of Integrity?

Do family and friends respect me?-   How is my relationship with my family? Do those who know me best respect me most?

Vocational Success…. Am I a successful businessperson? Am I fulfilling my vocational or entrepreneurial call by using my gifts, leading by example and empowering others to do the same?

A Successful Ministry….Am I serving others? Do I love others as I love myself?

It’s a very fine line.  On one hand, I have not yet achieved what I think I should be achieving financially and vocationally.  On the other hand, I have achieved a lot, in other areas.

In many cases, our parents were always there to support us morally, financially and emotionally. They taught us to be independent and to face the world with courage and determination to succeed. Every thing we had right now,  we owe it to our parents.They been supportive to us from the moment we were born in this world till we grown-up. And they also gave support on us in our studies.

How do you make them proud of you? As I get older, and so do my parents, I want to make them proud of me. I want to be SUCCESSFUL, whatever that word means.

Too often too many of us seem to focus on what is not. We take stock on what we thought we would be by now, what we thought we might have accomplished, where we thought we might have made a mark, and keep a score solely on the goals where we fell short. Too often we sit with that mental list looking at a new year feeling already behind because of what didn’t happen in this one.
Are you doing that now? It’s not the best way of reflecting on what we know. What we didn’t do last year is not the best way of deciding what this year might best be about.  

Consider this…

Someone told me recently, “Successful businesses and successful people don’t always meet every benchmark. They know that conditions change and opportunities appear that might rearrange strategies and priorities.They weigh and value their position and progress constantly to make sure that what they’re aiming toward is still where they want to go. They constantly revisit and review their benchmarks to be sure those benchmarks support forward growth.
It’s the forward growth that matters. The benchmarks aren’t the prize the growth is.”

As this year comes to a close and I look ahead, I am inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who  was a brilliant writer.  He said….

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.”

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

The true joy of life is the trip

Life on the Train

Happy New Year
Michael  Snell


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