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Fri, Jan. 24

Older Than Dirt: How Do You Measure Success?

How do you measure success? There are some people who might say it's all about money. If you have plenty of it, doesn't that make you successful? Some people would say that it all depends on what you have done with your life. Did you do at least MOST of the things you wanted to do? Did you finish the things that you started?

I have known several people in my lifetime who have what I would say is an odd sense of what success actually means. They finished college, stayed with the same job for 30 years or so, and now enjoy a reasonably happy retirement. This is the beginning and the end. What more would you need to feel successful? I say that there is a whole lot more.

I had an aunt when I was growing up who always measured success with dollar signs. I would often ask her about an old friend, or perhaps another relative that I had not seen for a long period of time. It would never occur to her that I was asking about "how they are." Instead, she would spend 15 minutes telling me about their beautiful house, their vacations, etc. Al ll I really wanted to know was if they were healthy and happy, certainly not the size of their bank account.

Some folks think that the number of persons who show up at your funeral would be a good way to gauge your successes, while others might say it is about how much you leave your family when you go. This is certainly true, in a way. Did you leave your children with happy memories of their childhood? Were you there for them always, no matter what messes they may have gotten into? Were they first and foremost in your life? Did they know that you loved them unconditionally? Did you try to teach them life skills that would help them to become better adults?

If you can answer YES to all/most of these questions, perhaps you are much more successful than you ever thought.

But what if you had no children? Does that mean you missed out on something? Not always. I have found that those persons who have no children will often care for dogs, cats, etc., for most of their lives. It works for them! Loving and nurturing another species can often be just as rewarding as raising children - without the headaches. Not everyone needs kids!

As we get older and spend a little more time reflecting on the years we have already used up, we do tend to wonder if perhaps we could have done things better. We often want to make sure that we have not left anything undone. We may even find ourselves reconnecting with family members who we made little time for in the past. Time is of the essence, and we should not wait until it is too late.

As I have said before, "Do-overs" is not something we can count on. Now that we are older and hopefully smarter, we ought to have an opportunity to get things right! But alas, many times we can only ask to be forgiven for things we may have done that were not handled as well as they should/could have been. There is no age limit on making mistakes. Sadly, we do not always mature like a fine wine, but instead do not ever truly reach perfection.

I have found that even the bullies and the mean people in this world are still loved by someone. They may not be anyone you care to miss or think about, yet they did manage to have been successful at something!

My mother used to say that people often find religion when they begin to "smell the earth!" Smelling the earth, of course, meant getting old. Now that I think about it, she may have been more on target than I gave her credit for. Everyone wants to have that golden ticket when they get to those pearly gates!

We are all born with an expiration date. Trouble is, we are not privileged to know what it is. No matter how many years we get, we can still be successful. No one should EVER feel like a failure. Maybe you are just setting your goals too high.

You may never own your own home or a brand new car. So what?

Success can be measured in so many ways. I personally believe that if you had a reasonably happy life, did what you could to help others, and have only a few actions you would like to take back, you have pretty much nailed it!

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