Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Is Success?

When you think about success in life what comes to mind? Is it the house with the two car garage, a “good” job that offers benefits and a retirement package? Is it being a top level executive with a Fortune 500 company or an entrepreneur? Is it making enough money to take exotic vacations and own a wardrobe of designer clothes or the ability to not have to work full-time?

I've seen plenty of people that went to work in a suit and tie (or skirt suit) in corporate America after college to learn shortly after they hated it. They hated being micromanaged, they hated sitting in front of a computer for nine hours a day. They hated not being able to take as much personal time off to pursue their passions; they felt work was taking over their entire lives. Is climbing the ranks of a major corporation the epitome of success in America and is this what we should be encouraging our sons and daughters to do?

I ask these questions because when I think about my own personal happiness, I don’t envision myself in a suit, moving from cubicle to corner office to suite over the course of twenty years with a major corporation. I don’t envision myself having to wait 10 years to take 3 weeks vacation or working 50-60 hours a week for someone else. I see myself as being independent and working for myself. I see myself having the ability to decide for myself if I can make my son’s school play or take time off because he’s sick and not have to ask permission or be made to feel guilty about it. I see myself as making enough money to support my family and save for my retirement. I see myself as having a life outside of work.

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post about Millennial women not aspiring to be executives in corporate America. Maybe they see the stress that their male counterparts face in those positions and think, I don’t want this for myself. I do firmly believe women need and deserve to get paid what their male counterparts are earning and families should have more favorable options as far as flex time and maternity/paternity leave. But for some people, even with the additional benefits (for those that are fortunate enough to have those options available) working in said environment still may not be all its cracked up to be.

Could that be the trend? That more people, women in particular, are seeking careers where they are their own boss, they set their own rules and still have the ability to raise a family in the way they wish to? I think the spotlight should not only be on the female CEO of a major company, but on the people that have been able to start something from scratch whether it be as a small business owner, freelance writer or consultant where their creativity, skills and intellect can be used to its fullest extent and not limited based on a job title.

There are many different measures of success and I think we should encourage our children, the future generations, to really hone in on where they see themselves and what would truly make them happy. If becoming a CEO of a major company is their goal, then great. If not then that’s OK too. To be honest, this country would probably benefit more from there being more small businesses and banks so that large companies do not have complete control over entire economies. But hey, that’s another post for another time.