Most people associated success as having achieved fame or recognition in a respected field and/or just being able to earn/accumulate a large sum of money and assets. However, whether fame or money, it seems to be too narrowedly focused and mundane. Is life just about money & fame?
During the years of my biggest personal failure, I was forced to seek the basic definition of Sucess for myself amidst my depression. If you have never experienced a depression, you should feel lucky. If you did, I hope you have recovered from it fully. Depression is a state of mind and a transient state of your life for sure. While you’re in it, it is emotionally very taxing, and others around you may not understand the cause nor your reactions to it. The cause of depression is a LOSS and a significant and important loss to you. What is significant and important depends on the persons and the stages in life. It can be a loved one, or a job loss, or academically and career-related cause in my case.
When I “crawled” through my life on a day by day basis in my depression, I came up with a definition of success: Whatever I have done today, I have tried my very best; I know that after years looking back, I could still tell myself without regrets that I just couldn’t have done better on that particular day. It was simple as that. Success to me was and is having given a best effort without regards to the results. After about 10 years of academic endeavor, I was facing a potential delay in my Master degree or non-degree for that matter, plus a nil job prospect simply because I chose a major that I thought I could contribute scientifically more, instead of a major that I could make more money and find jobs more easily. While emotionally depressed, I stopped looking at the fruits of my efforts. Mentally I told myself that success was giving the best effort everyday.
Recovered from my depth of depression, I have become a much stronger person. There is some truth in “what cannot kill you makes you stronger” (but I certainly would always opt for not going through such pain or emotional hurt of “near-death” experience). And I’m glad that I found a personal definition of success. Everyday I wake up, I thank God for another day, and I will not waste my life for this given day. I will give my best efforts in whatever things that I choose to do, to make it a worthwhile and successful day.
P.S. In case you ask what happened to my academic pursuit, I ended up going for another Master degree. If you have read my definition of being lucky, there are three factors to help you get lucky. I have tried the first two using my best efforts. So at the end, I went for choice #3: changing the target of my pursuit.