Education - Page 1 - Ask Margit

- Page 1
Ask Margit
By Margit B. Weisgal, Contributing Writer

How do you define success?

Success – or at least our definition of success – is ephemeral. If you go to a dictionary, it is defined as the accomplishment or completion of one’s goals. There’s an assumption that you have goals, either in your head or written in a formal plan, along with the details of how you will get there.

When we’re young, success may be getting selected for a team or winning a trophy. Then, as we get a little older, maybe it’s getting an A on a particularly difficult test or being accepted to your first choice for college. Later still, perhaps it’s when you get your degree or finish your apprenticeship.

And so it goes. As we complete one goal, it is immediately replaced by another. Rarely do we take time out to see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve accomplished. We’re always changing the definition of success without recognizing it has come and gone because we don’t give ourselves a pat on the back, an “Atta Girl” or “Atta Boy” for doing well.

Life is made up of these incremental stages, and as we mature, the goals become bigger, take longer to accomplish, become more complex and often more expensive. Picture the shift from high school to, possibly, a community college, then a four-year university, and ultimately graduate school. Corresponding to these educational goals, you could shift from living at home, to living on campus, to living on your own.

Post-college offers even more intricate, more difficult, goal attainment. Do you want an advanced degree? Are marriage and children in the cards? Home ownership? Perhaps it’s saving enough money that gives you the ability to retire early, well before you reach your sixties.

But what about the more intangible aspects of success that speak to what kind of person you are? Is your life satisfying? Do you have good friends who make your life more fulfilling? Are you known for being decent and honorable?

David Brooks, in a TED talk, asks, “Are you living for your résumé … or your eulogy?” If you live for your résumé, you accrue skills in the marketplace, saleable skills, and are known for competence and abilities. But for your eulogy, you want to be known for being moral, loving, dependable, and most of all, for being a good person. It’s reasonable to want to be successful in both aspects of our lives. Brooks then adds that the ones he thinks about and focuses on the most are the résumé skills.

Ask Margit, continued on page 8