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Achieve success by redefining success for yourself — over and over and over again. Go ahead. Do it. No shame in it.


When I say “successful man” to you, what comes to mind? Something like the image above?

I’d wager most of you would say “yes.”

The problem? It’s advertising. Our images of success come from agencies paid by companies who offer things they want us to buy. Ad agencies are paid to create our notions of success, which we then work ourselves to death to approximate.

You do it. I do it. We all do it.

A lumpy old guy walking down a city street wearing clothes from Goodwill might have a million  in the bank and all the happiness he can handle, but no one wants to be him. We want to be the guy in the ad. Thus, we do what the ad agency tells us to do and we lease a new electric Cadillac.  It makes us feel successful.

Nevermind that we still feel like shit about ourselves. We’re successful. We’ve met the standards set by the people paid by the companies we’re giving our money to. We belong — according to the ad agencies, at least. Until they move the target. Or we wise up.

I fell for this multiple times. I’m no better than y’all. It just occurred to me — after watching things fall apart spectacularly — that we’re all deluded about this concept of “success.”

I’m here to tell you that the only way to be successful is to constantly change your own personal definition of “success” as you mature and evolve as a person. This is assuming you’re maturing and evolving. Because if you aren’t, you’re not really in the game. You are really out of it. We’re all becoming something.

When I shut off my DishTV subscription and stopped reading popular magazines my definitions of success started to change.  I started seeing success differently in other people.

After a while, the healthy bartender with an interesting hobby and a good relationship started looking like the picture of success. He has enough of everything, and each day brings new challenges and delights. He’s giving praise to the universe though his own joy, doing the real worship that most religions only claim to incite. He’s a successful human being.

Meanwhile the cube prisoner can console himself with an extra decimal place on his W2, as life slowly seeps from between his fingers and he hates on someone for making him write up an “incident” involving paperclips or aggressive farting.

Cube man’s a failure.

But I did the cube-life thing for years and was rather successful at it.  I met the definitions of success it posed, then I lost interest. Now, I’ve redefined success. My current definition: If I can do what I want to do while being myself and make enough money to keep doing it, I’ll consider myself wildly successful. This goal can still be attained even if I need to share a trailer parked behind a K-Mart somewhere with a few mentally-disturbed people, make my own clothes, and eat Banquet chicken out of a box. Been there, done that. Not afraid of going back for seconds.

So — you need to define success on your own. Your own success. Don’t accept anyone else’s universal definitions. Chances are they’re trying to manipulate you or sell you something.

By the way, even by my definitions you’d look really successful carrying around a copy of my debut novel, Eye of the Diamond-TIt’s got a character in it who needs to redefine success in a pretty dramatic fashion. Check it out HERE today.