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Measuring Success - Are Failures Really Failures?

As humans we tend to be obsessed with measuring things and being successful, and most importantly, measuring success. What happens when all our measuring for success equals failure? Is it really a failure? Or are we just framing the situation with the wrong measurement system? For instance, much too often our measurement system is money or accumulation of items of worth. So, if we don't make money doing something or acquire something that has a monetary value, we label the venture a failure and feel bummed about that. How much money is enough money to be considered successful? Is breaking even enough? Usually not by most people's standards. Is double your money enough? And once you obtain a certain level of monetary *success*, how long is it before you have to beat that level of success?  And when you don't, you fall back to failure. And so many things can impact the monetary success of something -- down turn of the economy, an illness, an unexpected expense, and on and on. When measuring success in money, failure is inevitable.

What if we removed money from the measurement of success? How would you determine success then? Would it be a success if you were doing something you were passionate about? Making friends you didn't have before? Accomplishing bench marks in your life you hadn't done before? Maybe you wrote a book, did a video, or became a speaker. Maybe you helped someone in a way that changed their life or helped them through a difficult time. Those would truly be measurements of success and very meaningful ones. But if we fell back to measuring success purely in terms of money, accomplishments like that would slide by unnoticed. Why? Because we get ensnared into an environment that operates fully on money and quite truly we do need a sum of money to get by in the world for at least the basic necessities of *three hots and a cot* as they say.

Whether we realize it or not, we have been subtly and sometimes not so subtly programmed to function in our world in certain ways. After all, for those of us in the USA, it is the *American Dream* to be a home owner, have a family, a job, be an outstanding member of your community, etc. So, if we don't own a home, are we a failure? If we are childless or unmarried, are we failures? If we live anonymously in our communities are we failures? And what constitutes an acceptable home? Everyone dreams of owning and living in a HUGE house. So if your living room isn't large enough to park a fleet of humvees are you a failure? Do you really need a house that is so huge your entire family and extended family can assemble in it for a few days out the year for holidays but you pay to maintain it, pay taxes on it and mortgage etc. year around? And yet it is something that your pets can lounge in luxury all day while you slave at a job to pay for it? And your kids are in daycare and spend only a few waking  hours at the end of the day in the giant home you got so they would have plenty of room to play -- and yet they do 98% of their playing away from home at daycare? In fact, your home is only a place that you come to at the end of a busy day to hurriedly make a meal, do a bit of chores, then fall into bed so you can get up the next day and do the same? And then the weekends are crammed full of chores and pleasures to the point that you are exhausted come Monday morning and barely able to function. BUT you have all the impressive items that measure success: good job, high wage, big house, family, nice car, community recognition, etc. But friends, HOW is this truly success? Isn't it more like slavery?

Looking back at my squandered time in the rat race chasing rainbows for success, how would I see and measure success now in my elder years? I would say a small, simple quiet life where you have the time to enjoy home, friends and family is success. A life where  you're not juggling and struggling large bills for large homes and fancy cars is success. I gladly drive a used car so I don't have payments hovering over me. I gladly live in a smaller house so that I can pay it off and not have a mortgage in tow for 30 years. That small house gives me smaller utility expenses since it is easier to heat and cool. It takes less time to clean and repairs are less costly. I still had 15 years of a mortgage left when I sold my previous house. I turn 55 this year. That means I would have been 70 years old before my mortgage would have paid off. I don't want to be a slave to debt to the end of my days. And by debt I'm speaking specifically of *voluntary* debt. Some debts we have no choice -- utilities, groceries, taxes -- things that everyone pays. But car payments, house payments, and many other things are debt by choice. And generally we are spurred to indebt ourselves which ultimately enslaves ourselves because we have the faulty sense of measuring success in monetary gain and possessions.

Coming to see this has been a long time coming for me. How liberating it is to be free of measuring my success in life by money and possessions. It is my wish for all of you that you find a similar knowing and peace at a much younger age than I did so you can enjoy it longer.

Bright Blessings,
Rayven Michaels

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