Stop Chasing Success (Repost)

You already know that even though my blog is usually about RV’ing and topics related for retirees and friend, that I frequently fall off the wagon, or take the road less traveled in order to chat about subjects quite removed from my own life.  In that vein, I found this on, and it resonated deeply with me.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Stop Chasing Success, Seek Significance

Written by Joshua Baker


Image: Roberto Trm

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”
— Leo Rosten

Financial success is a powerful motivator. And it controls the lives of many. It chooses occupations. It dictates how time, energy, and resources are spent. It influences relationships, schedules, and families. To some, it even becomes an all-consuming passion that leaves broken people and morality in its wake.

Unfortunately, it is not the greatest call we have on our lives. In fact, compared to significance, it fades quickly.

Consider the limitations of success:

  • Success ebbs and flows with the economy. As recent years have proven, financial success is always at the mercy of a national economy and increasingly, a world economy. When the economy takes a downturn (as it always does), so does net worth.
  • Success ends on the day you die. On the day you die, all wealth and possessions will be immediately transferred to someone else. And even if you get to pick where they go, the reality is that person is always someone other than you.
  • Success is never enough. Financial success will never satisfy the inmost desires of our soul. No matter the amount of financial success earned, it always leaves us wanting more.

On the other hand, compare the advantages of significance:

  • Significance always lasts. Significance will always outlast you. Even when you are no longer present, your significance will still be yours. And nothing can ever take that away from you.
  • Significance carries on. Significance keeps on giving. When you positively change the life of another human being…  and that person changes the life of another… who impacts the life of another… who influences another…
  • Significance satisfies our soul. While the thirst for success is never quenched, significance satisfies our deepest heart and soul. It allows us to lay our head on our pillow each night confident that we lived a valuable and fulfilling day.

Unfortunately, many people spend most of their lives chasing financial success. And while some achieve it more than others, almost all find it unfulfilling in the end. When they begin to shift their life focus to significance instead of success, they wonder why they wasted most of their life chasing something different.

Don’t waste any of your life. Seek significance today.

Here are just a few practical steps to get you started:

  1. Realize life won’t last forever. Everyone knows that life will come to an end – but no one likes to think about it. That’s unfortunate. As soon as you start thinking about the end of your life, you begin to live differently in the present. You are never too young to start thinking about your legacy. How do you want people to remember you? And what do you really want to accomplish before you die? Make a list. Post it somewhere… because rarely will “drive a really nice car” ever appear.
  2. Live a life worth copying. Live with character, integrity, and morality. Your life should look the same in private as it does in public. And while no one is perfect, just begin striving for a life of integrity. It will be noticed.
  3. Focus on people. Not dollars. Begin to transfer your life’s focus from your banking account to the people around you. Rather than worrying about the next get-rich-quick scheme, spend that energy focusing on your child, your neighbor, or the disadvantaged in your community.
  4. Start with one solitary person. Find one person who needs you today. Start there. Significance may be as inexpensive as one cup of coffee or as simple as one heartfelt question. If you are unsure where to start, try this, “No, how are you really doing?”
  5. Find a career outside your job. Sometimes, our day job leads to significance. But if yours does not, find a “career of significance” outside of your job by volunteering in a local organization. Most likely, your gifts, talents, or expertise are desperately needed. Use your job to pay the bills, but use your “new career” to pay your soul.
  6. Realize significance is not dependent upon success. Too many people fall into the trap of thinking, “Once I make it rich, I’ll become significant.” This is rarely the case. Choose significance today. Begin striving for it now. If, then, financial success comes your way in the future, your mind will be in a better place to truly use your new success for broader significance.
  7. Reduce your expenses. Learn to live with less. Living with less frees up your life to invest into others. And living with reduced expenses allows you the freedom to not spend so much time at the office and more resources on others.
  8. Read biographies of people who sought significance rather than success. If you prefer recent history, read about Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela. If you prefer older stories, give Mahatma Gandhi or Harriet Tubman a shot. Either way, their lives will inspire you to make more of yours.

Rarely do people look back on their lives and savor their professional achievements. Instead, they celebrate the impact they have had in the lives of others. Give yourself much to look back and celebrate. Stop chasing success. Start seeking significance.


5 thoughts on “Stop Chasing Success (Repost)

  1. I’m living #7…but my favorite is #2. Do you have a person you try to copy, Peter? My person is Ernie Harwell, the late great Detroit Tiger broadcaster, who had a passion for kindness and taking time for his fellow man. I think of him often.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jim,
      I think I was about 40 yrs old and still in ministry when I finally realized that I was past that time when I was imitating my seniors and that other people were imitating me. That came as an absolute shock and I kept wondering why. Of course the answers are simple but how to behave as a result is not.
      I’d like to think I’m working on #2, that’s a decision other people will make for me.
      I know I switched over to #3 about the same time. One of my mottos became “More time with Fewer People” – it was Jesus’ way (MOST of the New Testament stories about him are about solo or small group encounters, and only a relative few about large groups) and I found there was power in spending more time with fewer people. My dislike of large groups today may relate to that.
      #4 was a special project of mine. I really believe in the power of mentoring and I gave a lot of time over to that. One relationship lasted probably 12 years — you can learn/teach a lot in that time. I had been mentored by 2 men, and I appreciated what they did to/for me.
      I’m a firm believer in the idea that the best thing in the world is for there to be MORE contact between generations. I fear that Day Care and Old Age Homes and electronic games are the worst things to happen to US society because we have isolated the generations instead of using them to transmit the wisdom of the ages. I know that sounds hokey but I really believe we have screwed ourselves by hanging out with people our own age.
      I HAD jobs, but I had one love — ministry — and I finally found a way to DO that. That did not work out as well as I hoped — many reasons for that, and I wear my heart on my sleeve so I’ll not go into that — but #5 is tricky and I did not have the skill to pull that off as well as I might have. However when I went into the studio and started shooting there instead of outside I found that in the strangest way when I was shooting nudes of all things that people connected with me in an amazing way and I will forever believe that I had the biggest impact on the widest VARIETY of people during that period.
      And, yeah, #7 is a big thing — not only in retirement. 🙂
      It’s an article that really resonated with me because I lived big parts of it.


You’ve heard what I’m thinking. What's on YOUR mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s