I was asked recently how I defined success?
It was harder to answer than I expected because my definition of success seems to change with every milestone I achieve.
I don't think I'm unique in this regard.
Life is dynamic and we move through ages and stages over a lifetime. Our perception, expectations and definitions of success inevitably evolve
I have read countless profiles of accomplished actors and other professionals who've made their 'fortune' and fame who say if they had their time again, they'd focus more on their families and friends. That is to say, they define success as having good relationships with those closest to them. Hindsight is a wonder, ain't it?
It's easy to have perfect vision once you've scaled the highest mountain.
Success, in a classical sense, is marked by wealth, fame, power and status. It is usually hard won and takes years to accomplish. Hence the sacrifices, and the revisionism later on about what success is.
In the interim, those focussed purely on money, need to ask themselves how much?
If we can learn from those who've made a lot of it, it is helpful to understand money in the context of what it can and can't buy.
If we accept, that after a certain amount, more money is not going to add to your happiness threshold, it's best to know when to stop pursuing it so aggressively. Because to do so, (chasing it for the sake of it) is often at the detriment of one's health, or personal relationships.
Having a goal or a number in mind, and a plan to get there, is a pragmatic wealth creation strategy. It removes the fuzzy fantasy of happily ever after once you've banked a million bucks.
I think it is better by far to flip the equation and actively explore and pursue what it is that makes you happy, occupationally and otherwise, then set up a financial plan that is congruent with your goals. It's also more realistic for the masses.
This approach is not without its own hazards because it forces one to dig deep. Let's be honest; sometimes it's easier to follow others peoples' expectations of us, or follow the road we happen to have landed on, rather than search our soul.
Sometimes we fall into a trap of what is convenient at the time, rather than what is truly meaningful and important.
It's understandable too. We are not taught to follow our bliss. I know I wasn't anyway.
Life doesn't follow a simple, linear path. It is usually through struggle, disappointment, conflict and resistance that we are forced to confront those deeper, scarier questions in life.
The reward for doing so can be both liberating and meaningful.
So, you wanna be rich?
Great! Before you seek your riches, make sure you understand why and try to quantify that wealth too.
The pursuit of it will be all the easier. Or perhaps just a few less regrets will come of it.
Amanda is a personal finance specialist and published author based in Auckland, New Zealand. She is also a certified meditation and yoga instructor which informs her teachings on financial wellness.