The Elusive Goal of Success

November 25, 2014

by Dan Solin

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Everyone wants to be successful. Some advisors define success as assets under management. Others define it much more broadly to include strong relationships with family and friends and making a positive contribution to others.

There’s no shortage of information on the subject of success. The problem is defining what success means to you.

Defining success on your deathbed

Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse, wrote a book, The Five Top Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, about the major regrets of those in their final days.

As reported in a recent article, the most common regret was lament over having lived a life expected by others, rather than one of his or her own choice. Other regrets included an inability to be happier, not staying in touch with friends, not having the courage to express feelings and working too hard.

Adhering to the view of success as defined on the deathbed raises troubling issues. In order to succeed in the hypercompetitive world of providing investment advice, it’s necessary to work hard, often at the expense of relationships with family and friends. For some, the benefits of financial success outweigh later regrets. Financial success permits us to live a higher quality of life, to educate and otherwise provide for our loved ones and to make the time we spend with family and friends more meaningful.

Other definitions of success

A recent article by Bradley Stockwell, marketing director at Merchant Capital Source, suggested that success “comes down to five simple things that you most likely know you should already be doing.” Stockwell came up with this list after “reading hundreds of articles, biographies, advice columns” and using himself as a guinea pig.

Here’s a summary of his tips for leading a successful life:

  • Read more and watch less television
  • Get a sufficient amount of sleep
  • Continue to learn new things
  • Write in a journal, book, blog or guest article
  • Exercise and eat well

These are wise and helpful suggestions, but on their own they won’t make you successful.

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