“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a little better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
It can be a telling exercise to take some time to write down how you define success for yourself. There are probably a number of ways to arrive at the answer, but one simple way it to just sit down, unplug yourself from everything, and complete the sentence: “I will have succeeded in this lifetime if…”
After having answered that central question, next you must determine if the way you are handling your world aligns with this central mission. This is a matter of your heart, not the people, places and things around you. Again, take a few minutes to withdraw from the cares of the world and complete the sentence: “My heart would be at rest in relation to the accomplishment of my central purpose if only I…” But remember, this is an internal change, not an external one.
Then comes the assessment of your world and how it is arranged. Has your life become a “junk drawer” into which anything and everything has been stuffed over time? What would you say is the ratio of that which is helping you accomplish your central purpose to that which is detracting you from it? Answering the previous question typically catalyzes changes in the world around you (as above, below, as inside, so without), but you will likely need to take specific steps at this point in the process to refine your approach. Answer these questions: “What do I need to finally let go of? and “What do I now need to let go more fully to?” and you will sharpen your focus.
Finally, there is the need for a new resolve, a focused and fortified commitment to bold and decisive action in relation to the fine-tuned approach. All the thinking, talking, answering, and hoping in the world won’t get you there. Action. There must be action.