Measuring Success in Life

The dictionary defines success as:

Success (noun)

Meaning: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

Synonyms: favorable outcome, successfulness, favorable result, successful outcome, positive result, victory, triumph

As the sun sets in the evening and rises again in the morning, it clearly shows us the persistence by which it never misses out rising even on a single day. Having said that there are some days when we are not able to see the sun because of the clouds. This phenomenon of nature shows us that there are some people who are not able to appreciate and acknowledge others persistence as their thinking is blurred by some other factors. Although the clouds might try to hide the sun as much as possible but the rays will still find a way to touch us.

Hence I believe that people should not care for the appreciation and instead continue with their focused goals in life. Also instead of checking at each phase in life whether the target or the goal is achieved or not, one should check behind the clouds as to whether the learning and evolution has happened or not (implying the sun has risen or not).

Most of us divide our lives into four phases; the first phase being the education phase where we try to gain knowledge and develop our skills, the second phase is the corporate life where the only thing that matters to us is promotion, the third phase is the family life where we have to live for our children and fulfil the needs of the family and the fourth phase is life after retirement where we remember GOD and try to ask for forgiveness. In all these phases of life we just try to measure whether we were successful or not based on the expectations that we set for ourselves.  Did I get admission into that B-School? Did I secure the first prize in that competition? Did I get the promotion when I wanted? Surely, these are the parameters on which we evaluate success in our life and I believe there is nothing wrong.

But, imagine a utopian world 500 years down the line where there is only prosperity, everyone is able to get what they want; the promotion they desire, the car they want, the B School they want. I am afraid what parameters will we use then to measure whether our life was successful or not. As human beings have evolved many things have become very easy for us to achieve as compared to our ancestors.

So, instead of using these parameters, we should envision our life as a Balance Sheet where the Assets column is “What have I done for Others” and the liabilities side is “What have Others done for me”. If you try and make this right now, you will find that liabilities will be always greater than assets. Try reducing your liabilities and balance the balance sheet in your life.

Life cannot be measured based on the activity based costing wherein each phase of life is assigned a cost and the returns are calculated based on each phase. It is an overall experience wherein returns and costs do not matter but what matters is how many peoples’ lives have been changed by your efforts.

Aditya Agarwal is a first year PGP student at IIM Indore. He is an inquisitive, enthusiastic and a fun-loving person who loves to read non-fiction books.