Don’t Sacrifice Your Life for Someone Else’s Idea of Success

Updated: November 25, 2021

How do you define success? No really, how do YOU define success?

In your own life, using your own terms. What is success?

Many times, we define success in terms of what other people expect from us.

We go through life trying to reach their expectations, and focus very little on our passion and personal happiness.

Below is an excerpt from the book, Learning the Human Game by Alan Watts, and provides an insightful look at how most people sacrifice their lives pursuing someone else’s idea of success.

Music and Life

In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of a composition the point of the composition.

If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest; and there would be composers who only wrote finales.

People go to concerts only to hear one crashing chord – because that’s the end…

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct.

We’ve got a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression.

It’s all graded — and what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grading system, with a kind of “c’mon kitty kitty kitty…”

And yeah, you go to kindergarten, and that’s a great thing because when you finish that, you’ll get into first grade.

And then c’mon, first grade leads to second grade, and so on…

And then you get out of grade school you go to high school — and it’s revving up, the thing is coming…

Then you’re going to go to college, and by then you get into graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school, you’ll go out to join the world.

And then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make. And you’re going to make that.

And all the time, this thing is coming, it’s coming, it’s coming — that great thing, the success you’re working for.

Then when you wake up one day about forty years old, you say “My God! I’ve arrived! I’m there!”

And you don’t feel very different from what you always felt.

And there’s a slight letdown because you feel there’s a hoax.

And there was a hoax.

A dreadful hoax.

They made you miss everything.

We thought of life by analogy was a journey, was a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end.

And the thing was to get to that end.

Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance, while the music was being played.

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  1. HI Sir Fitz,

    Thanks for this article.
    I saw you on Mars with Susie and Camille Pratz last Friday (11/08/2013). Nice tips on the money 101.

  2. True. Life is about hearing and enjoying the music while it last. Too often we rush to the end only to be disappointed because the entire point of living was in enjoying and making sense of what is currently happening.

    Thanks for the great post! I am in this period of my life wherein I need to make another step in life totally different with the path I am in. But I believe that it is all for the good and it is a step closer to my dream. As you said in your post in Facebook when we are most scared to do something then we must simply do it because it is what would lead us to our dream.

  3. Excellent reminder! Life alas is a journey and not a destination, so is financial independence…you enjoy it each day, live it fully each day and enjoy the scenery as it is as you go along.

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