Week 32 Reflections: Defining Your Success

Setting the Context

This entry is inspired by Diane Mulcahy’s The Gig Economy – The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want!

At different phases of our lives, our definition of success has changed. Our goals, circumstances, desires, and needs evolve. The question: have you given deliberate thought to what your definition of success is?

Every time I have a job interview, I find myself asking: is this really what I want?

I struggle with anxiety attacks. It started occurring in 2017. In March 2020 and June 2021, it cost me my jobs. While HR asked me to submit my notice, my colleagues encouraged me to take time off to sort myself out for a few months.

One of the measures I’m taking is (if you noticed) returning to blogging and writing. When I pen my thoughts down, it helps on two fronts.

First, thoughts don’t occupy my mind for too long. This frees up space for me to do other stuff. It removes the worry and concern. Sure, the fallacy is it makes me feel productive.

Second, it offers the outside world an opportunity to glimpse into what’s happening in my mind. I’m not always as expressive. Sure, I can be passionate about constitutional law and politics. These are impersonal things. When it comes to personal issues, I adopt the “conceal don’t feel” approach.

What Does Success Look Like to Me?

At this stage in life, fancy titles and suits no longer excite me as much. I still enjoy the good things though. But not having them is as good. These past few years have taught me is to work on the basics.

If I were to sum it into a sentence, success is focusing on my wellbeing and my studies while I contribute to my clients through meaningful and valuable projects.

How do I know when I accomplished that?

  • At the end of my studies in 2024, I graduate with the Bachelor of Legal Studies (Hons) programme with a CGPA of 3.67 / 4.00 to enrol in an LL.M. programme at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE);
  • Through my copywriting, content writing, and digital consulting, I generate steady income to pay off my debt, set aside money for my tertiary fees, live comfortably, and built a solid writing and consulting portfolio;
  • Understand my anxiety triggers and cultivate strong relationships with my life partner, my loved ones, and my friends.

What are the values and priorities I want to live?

When it comes to values, here are things I believe in:

  • Freedom and choice: The ability to enter a situation with at least two to three choices. Previously it used to be “control”. I’m not a control freak. When I held tightly to control, I realise my anxiety gets triggered easily when things looks like it’s spiralling out of control.
  • Sustainable and worthwhile: Recognising my short attention span, I realise that mid- to long-term commitment can freak me out. Especially in a setting which prevents me from being candid or being myself. Imagine working or living in an environment akin to being surrounded by landmines and boobytraps. You don’t know what could happen where next. No matter how care you want to be, you’re bound to trigger something. Also, I need to emphasise that “sustainable” here isn’t  the “go green”. Sustainable and worthwhile means that I don’t get burnt out along the way.
  • Giving and Taking: The world is transactional. The more you give, the more you get back through opportunities, experience, knowledge, and leverage. I had to modify “contribution” to “giving and taking” because one exhausted me. One is symbiotic, another is parasitic. Being human, the least “return” one can have from an effort is “satisfaction” and/or “joy”.
  • Growth guided by Practical Passion: Growth can lead one in many areas. What is the alternative to growing arbitrarily? Growth guided by something. Some people may consider being guided by ambition. Others may be guided by family. For me, I consider guiding by Practical Passion. Basically, it’s passion that can be applied in real world setting or which can be monetised.

What is my definition of a good job, a good career, and, even, a good life?

To me, a good job or career is one that allows me to embody these values. It allows me to exchange experience, knowledge, and skills with opportunities and satisfactory consideration. Despite the risks, this includes me being able to make time for myself and my loved ones without feeling guilty over it.

Author: Aldric

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