8 Good Reasons To Stop Chasing Success (+ What To Do Instead)

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Yes, you did read that title correctly. There is nothing wrong with your eyesight.

But there is something wrong with living your life in the unbridled pursuit of success.

As you look back over your life so far, ask yourself this: if money were no object, would you make the same career or professional or lifestyle choices again?

Besides paying the rent and bills, what is the main reason you climb out of bed each morning and drag yourself to work?

When you think about the things you buy, are any of them purely bought as status symbols? Are there things you could live without?

When you really think about it, this mad dash for success has pushed us to work longer hours, sacrifice relationships, and endanger our health.

Is the trade-off worth it? Are we happier as a result?

Let’s look at some good reasons why we should STOP chasing success, and what to do instead.

8 Reasons To Stop Chasing Success

1. It’s not your version of success you’re chasing.

Media plays a powerful role in defining what success looks like for most of us.

In music videos, we see buff men, scantily clad women, fancy cars, enormous mansions, expensive alcohol, and large pieces of jewelry.

Social media is full of pictures of people traveling to exotic locations, staying in peculiar accommodation, and doing extreme things. Anything that screams, “I’m living my best life!”

Clearly, then, success means having a large house with a pool, expensive foreign cars, big muscles, tight clothes that barely cover the essentials, lots of alcohol, and regular trips to popular vacation spots, right?

Perhaps not.

Have you ever considered what success looks like to you?

Maybe it looks exactly like the picture painted above. But for many people, success looks vastly different.

Ask yourself what your idea of success is.

Maybe success to you means having more time with your family. Perhaps it means living on a farm where you grow your own food, far away from the city, noise, and filthy air. Success could even mean helping those who are less fortunate with your time or money.

Stop chasing the version of success you see all around you; the version you think you ought to be chasing because that’s what everyone else supposedly wants.

2. It puts undue pressure on you.

You must attain or achieve a certain thing or your life will be a failure. That’s the underlying message this era of success is communicating to us all.

Of course, that’s not a healthy or realistic message. By positioning certain achievements or the accumulation of certain things as the sole means of living a worthwhile life, it puts a huge amount of pressure on us to meet those lofty expectations.

The result is the stress, worry, anxiety, and self-worth issues that are rife in society today. We want to be successful so badly that we put some shiny end result up on an unreachable pedestal.

The desire to taste success and be a success pushes us to pour more and more of ourselves into making certain things come true.

But what happens when they don’t? What are we likely to think and feel if the success we yearn for isn’t forthcoming? We’ll sink into depression and feel like we’re wasting our life. We’ll focus our entire minds on what we don’t have.

In short, the weight of success is often too heavy a burden to carry.

3. You’re mistaking success for happiness.

When you’re successful, you’ll be happy. You’ll have everything you need to be happy.

Once you hit whatever goal you’re pursuing, you can finally rest and be happy.

You hustle now so you can be happy later.

At least, that’s what you keep telling yourself.

“Keep your eyes on the prize” is the mantra you repeat to yourself daily, even though you’re not exactly happy now.

In fact, you’re pretty miserable. You can’t remember the last time you took some time off to rest. You barely remember what your family looks like. Your blood pressure is dangerously high.

But that’s the price you have to pay for success, right? And once you finally get it, then you’ll be happy.

You equate success with happiness. You expect it to make you happy. And you struggle to feel happy as long as that success eludes you.

Stop chasing success because you want it to make you happy. It won’t.

4. You’re trying to prove something to someone.

Maybe it’s your parents, your first boss, that teacher back in high school, or the significant other who dumped you because you were struggling.

Whoever it is must have hurt you pretty badly because you’ve spent most of your life chasing success just to prove them wrong.

You work harder than everyone else to show them they were wrong in their assessment of you five, ten, twenty years ago.

You amass status symbols as proof that you are more than what they said you were or would be.

Your health is suffering for it, your relationships are bearing the brunt of it, but at least they know they were wrong.

Stop chasing success because of other people. They probably don’t care or can’t even remember what they said.

5. You’ve confused it with material possessions.

You’re pursuing success for the sole purpose of acquiring more material possessions.

Already your closet is full of high-end clothes, your garage has multiple luxury cars, your jewelry box is overflowing with expensive necklaces, earrings, and rings… but it’s not enough and… the chase is on for more.

After all, those things will not pay for themselves.

Yes, your house (or houses, as the case may be) is a little cramped with all your stuff. You may have more than one closet for all your clothes, shoes, and accessories. Perhaps you’re even considering keeping your cars in a rented garage somewhere else because there’s not enough space on your driveway.

It’s a small price to pay to be successful. This is what success looks like, right?

Stop chasing the success that you equate with material possessions. These thing are fleeting. There will always be better models, new fashion trends, and fancier stuff.

Equating success with material possessions means there’s no end to the race. You’ll forever be in pursuit of something, striving for more. You’ll never feel able to rest and enjoy the things you already have.

6. You expect it to satisfy you.

Success is not enough. It’s never going to be enough to satisfy you. The real reason want to succeed so badly is because you want to use that success to replace what is missing inside you.

You want success to satisfy a deep emotional need you may not even realize you have.

Rather than do the often painful introspective work required, you use success to fill the void inside.

Once you’re successful, you believe you will be satisfied.

Using success to satisfy a deeper need or longing is like using a band-aid to stop the blood gushing from an slashed artery. It’s nowhere near adequate.

Stop chasing success because you hope it can satisfy you. It can’t. Success can’t fill your void, it’s not strong enough to. There is just no shortcut to doing work on yourself, for yourself.

7. You’ve put life on pause until…

You’re so focused on achieving certain milestones, meeting goals, and becoming successful that you’ve failed to notice that life is passing you by.

You keep delaying your enjoyment of life and being truly present in the moment until you earn enough money, buy that house, finish your degree, get that promotion.

Like a cruel joke, almost before you scale whatever hurdle you’ve placed in front of you, another one magically appears in its place.

And the cycle continues.

Life is happening all around, but you fail to notice because you’re so focused on the next feat you want to attain. Seasons are changing, but beyond the inconvenience it brings to your schedule, you hardly notice.   

It’s not like you’re completely clueless about the devastation your razor-sharp focus is having on your life. You do feel guilty about not spending more time with your loved ones. You wish you had the time to do the things you’d really love to do.

You convince yourself that once you just (insert whatever goal is applicable), then you’ll be able to do all the things you’ve put on hold.

Stop chasing success because life waits for nobody. The dreams you are putting on hold, some of them are time-bound. They need you to fulfill them now before the opportunity goes away.

8. You’re sacrificing your relationships for it.

Because of your relentless race for success, your relationships are suffering.

The kids are growing up so fast, but you’re too busy with work to be a meaningful part of their lives. You joke about not knowing who they are, but it’s not funny when there’s more than a grain of truth in it.

Your significant other has gotten used to you prioritizing everything else ahead of them. They might even be close to leaving you, but you have no clue because your concentration is on attaining success rather than the state of your relationship.

You defend your inattention by arguing that your pursuit of success will benefit them all in the long run. After all, that’s why you work so hard – to give them a nice house, fancy clothes, exotic vacations, etc. You want to provide them with all the things you never had growing up.

Stop chasing success to the detriment of your relationships. The simple truth is your loved ones don’t need all the extras. They just need you.

6 Things To Do Instead

So, instead of chasing success, what should you do? Be happy with the status quo? Make your peace with failing? Quit your job, sit at home, and let the bill collectors come?

Not at all.

Rather than relentlessly pursuing success, do the following instead:

1. Define what a ‘good’ life looks like to you.

This calls for some introspection.

What does success truly mean to you? Do you really need the degrees, money, houses, and accolades to feel like your life is worthwhile? If you’ve attained some of those things already, do you feel more or less successful?

It’s okay for success to mean something completely different from what it means to society. It’s even okay for success to mean something different to you right now, than what it meant fifteen years ago. Your definition of success can evolve over time. 

In life, we are all works in progress. We are constantly evolving. Our priorities are changing. So is how we define what a ‘good’ life looks like.

So, take some time to re-evaluate what you really want from your life. Then review it every few years to make sure you are aspiring to achieve something that you still genuinely want to achieve.

2. Focus on progress and growth, but also on contentment.

The mindset many people have with regards to success only leads to disappointment. They believe success to be a singular thing that, once achieved, will make them feel complete.

But that’s not success. Really, success is about putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about the journey, the progress you are making, the ways in which you are growing. It’s about every little thing that happens in the meantime whilst your goals are still some way off.

By recognizing each little step you are taking, day by day, you maintain a sense of achievement and satisfaction, regardless of the end result. You get enjoyment out of the forward momentum you have.

But you don’t always have to move forward. It’s also important to stop once in a while and appreciate where you are, right here, right now. To be content with your present is to have succeeded in forging a mindset that will keep you positive throughout your life.

Recognizing the changes within you and around you, being glad of the ways in which you are growing (often because of the challenges life puts in your way), and being grateful for the things you have in life – these are all far better than a life focused solely on one objective which you may or may not ever meet.

3. Choose happiness. 

Mental illness aside, happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy, no matter the situation or circumstance you find yourself in.

You might have seen pictures of people smiling in the most war-torn countries or places Mother Nature has just torn apart? Obviously, their situation is dire, but even then they’ve found something to smile about.

True happiness is not dependent on achieving any goals or the result of having anything. Your happiness is not dependent on any outside factor.

It’s a conscious decision you make regardless of what is happening or going on around you. The power to be happy is entirely your decision to make.

No thing can make you happy. No person can make you happy.

Only you can choose to be happy. So, make that choice.

4. Pursue significance.

When you pursue significance, you focus on living a life of impact. It’s about positively affecting the lives of the people around you.

When you are significant, whether at home or at school or in the office, your value is seen and felt long after you’re gone.

Success is fleeting. We’ve all heard stories of people who used to be extremely successful and are homeless some years later.

But how you make someone feel, how you saw the best in them, how you impacted their life – that sticks with people.

Significance goes beyond the fleeting physical benefits you can provide in the immediate. It’s about the lasting impact you have on others.

Choose to live a life of significance, touching and impacting the people around you.

The great thing about being significant is that you don’t have to wait for anything else to happen. Not a goal or dream to be achieved, nor an amount of money to have in your bank account.

You can start right now with the people in your sphere of influence.

5. Realize life won’t last forever.

Be present and savor each moment. Make the most of every day while you still can. Life, as it is right now, won’t last forever. Things change quickly, with life’s most precious memories happening in the blink of an eye.

Don’t put off taking that trip, spending time with the people closest to you, or trying that hobby you’ve had your eye on. There is never a better time than the present.

The ideal time will never present itself.

You may not have everything you want, but you have all that you need.

Focus on what is truly important to you now.

6. Follow your own path.

It’s a sad day when you realize that you’ve been chasing things that don’t matter to you, at the risk of what does.

The silver lining is that you discover you are on the wrong path early enough to change direction.

Today, decide to follow your own path.

So, what path are you supposed to take?

First, stop going in the obvious direction, the one everyone else is on, the one most likely to give you all the things that symbolize success.

Our journey through life is specific to each one of us. No one starts and finishes the same way.

Your path in life must take into consideration your unique talents, wants, desires, and experiences. You owe it to yourself to discover what your path is in life and to follow it.

It will take some introspection and even some trial and error. When you’re headed in the right direction, you’ll know it because few people will be on the same path or even know where you’re going. But it won’t feel like such a struggle.

The best part about it is, when you go your own way, success follows naturally.

Success comes when you focus on what really matters to you. When you’re busy doing what you’re passionate about and developing your talent, success will follow.

The mistake many of us make is pursuing a definition of success that is not our own, using skills and talents that we don’t have to amass what we don’t really want or need. This leads to working longer, sacrificing our relationships and health, and ultimately living an unfulfilled life.

Don’t be that person. Be your own person who strives for your own version of a successful and meaningful life.

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