Success on Your Own Terms

A new year is upon us — both solar and lunar (Chinese) versions. Some common rites this time of year include setting goals and making resolutions.

My next book — Great Decisions, Perfect Timing — is about how to activate intuition and leverage synchronicities for greater success, happiness, abundance and joy in fulfilling your needs and wants. This means different things for people of different temperaments and stages of life. So, it is important that our vision of success be in alignment with who we have discovered ourselves to be. It’s an anguishing waste of time to compare oneself with others. True success can only be measured in your own terms. So, what does success mean for you? Have you defined it for yourself lately? With spring approaching, this is an excellent time for restarting.

Success can take many forms. Your definition depends upon what you value most highly — not what anyone else wants (or what you think most people want). The story of my cousin Lennie illustrates the point brilliantly. He defined success for himself and has been living it for 25 years.

Lennie sold his thriving barbershop 27 years ago and purchased 12 acres on Lake Leelanau, Michigan, a few miles from the village where he grew up. He lives in a house that he built with help from friends near the large spring-fed lake. Lennie built a passive-solar home into the south side of a hill, using beautiful ash wood he harvested from trees growing there for floors and paneling. He cultivated a huge garden and dug out two ponds for trout, which receive fresh flowing water from an artesian spring on the property.

Not only does he fish, but Lennie also hunts. He eats what he catches. This means plenty of venison, stored for consumption year round. His life requires plenty of work, but it has a beautiful simplicity and Lennie is remarkably self-sufficient. His utility bills are almost nil and he makes less than $10,000/year, mostly from working one day a week in his friend’s barbershop.

Lennie’s way was to trade off accumulating money for low overhead, living close to the land in an organic, non-wasteful way. He has no regrets. For him, the tradeoffs are worth the self-sufficiency, a high value for him. It’s not for everyone, but his is a simple life and, even with some hardships, a happy one. He knows himself, what he wants and he manifests it.

In light of his diligence in honoring his values, Lennie’s is a profound success story, even though he’s hardly thought of it that way. One night, as we were cooking fish we caught and vegetables we harvested that same day, I remarked what a monumental success story I consider his to be. Coming from his more “accomplished” cousin, this greatly surprised him.

As we begin a new year, how clear are you about your deepest desires and what is really most important to you? This is the foundation that will determine how successful you feel — not necessarily how much money you accumulate or what you can buy. Notice and appreciate the real satisfactions of your life … you may be more successful than you thought! Such remembering will help you nurture powerful feelings of joy and abundance throughout the new year.