Monday, August 11, 2014

Success Myths Busted

What does it mean to be successful? Here I am at 26 years of age with a beautiful wife, a playful toddler, a full time job, a car and a house we can call home. But really, what does it mean to be successful?

Is it income? Well according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics my income was in the top 10% for 2013 but I still find that I am making ‘just enough’. Somehow whatever raise or promotion you get, your lifestyle tends to just adapt to it. You don’t seem to have the surplus that you thought you would have once given the raise. But really, how high should one’s income be? Is it really important? Halfway climbing the corporate ladder, income doesn’t inspire me anymore. We are all greedy creatures anyway and are never satisfied with whatever we have. It is true that money is quite important as it provides food on the table and shelter above our heads. My wife and I started poor, at one point we had a few cents in the bank. Money nearly tore us apart at times but we are glad that phase was over. We know what it is to have nothing and we definitely do not take things for granted now. Is income crucial? I guess it is in our modern world where you really do need it for most needs and wants in life.

Is getting a job a sign of success? I always thought that having a job was the end of my education and a time for relaxation… boy was I wrong. I ended up working really hard to get recognition and to build a safety net financially. Some weeks I would work over 100 hours. Although I had a purpose, I was tired at the end of the day. After 2 years, my body broke down and I contracted some sort of virus from the hospital where I worked at. The virus caused me some rash and pericarditis and lasted for about 2 weeks. To be honest I enjoyed that 2 weeks as I needed that break so much. No I wouldn’t consider a job a success as given an ideal situation where finance was not an issue, I would rather not work. They say do what you love then you wont work a day. But I can tell you that most of the things I love doing won’t put a cent in the bank.

So does owning a home show success? We started off renting old broken down houses and moved on to renting ‘newer’ homes but ultimately we really wanted a place that we can call home. We pulled our finances together and bought a house for half a million dollars. Although we can call it home, at the back of my mind I know that the bank still owns about 80% of it and I have a long way to go in paying it back. Sometimes I do wonder if owning was any better to renting. Renting did allow us to have more disposable income but owning works out better in a long run when the house prices go up. We hope so anyway. Only time will tell. So I guess owning a home does not really constitute to success unless you are a real estate mogul.

Is education considered a success? I always thought that if you worked hard while you are young, then you don’t really have to when you are older. Well I haven’t found that to be true at all. I worked hard in high school and achieved results that enabled me to do my bachelors degree at Monash University. What I found was that I still had to work hard to achieve good results in my bachelor degree. Although I completed that 3 years ago, worked in the health industry for a while and now starting my Masters degree, I still find it tough to study. I guess working hard when you are young just accustoms you to work harder at your next stage of life. Having said that, education was important in a sense that it opened doors that were not available to me prior to the education. It allowed me to apply for jobs of higher position and gave me more recognition. Without it, I guess I wouldn’t have had the income that I have. And without the income I guess I wouldn’t have been able to have a home. So yes, education is important but I would not say it is success itself, it does however open more doors to success.

But what I really consider a success is having a healthy family. To be honest it is a real challenge to build a healthy home. Marriage for a start is not easy. It does have its pros but definitely has its cons. There are things that we thought we knew about each other only to find out differently after marriage. Sometimes it is not that we hide things from each other but we do change over time according to our lifestyle and circumstances. For example I was never really picky at food and would eat anything that was given to me. Fast track 5 years, I am now picky on some foods and would not eat rice that was too soggy. Sometimes I really do surprise myself at how picky I am. So in reality when we marry someone, we marry them not for who they are at that time, but for who they will be after marriage. The fact is people change over time. Looking at the stats in US for 2011, most marriages that ended up in divorce were separated after 6 years of marriage and officially divorced on the 8th year. I guess it goes to show how challenging the first 6 years of marriage can be. The thing about putting together a ‘system’ that works in the family can take time and for all you know, that system can be ever changing as we ourselves change. To constitute marriage a success, you really have to say that at the end of your life. Meanwhile, we work to the best of our ability.