Year 2011 in Review: What is Success?

2011 is another of those years where I look back and think… "Is this one of those years that has just passed by unceremoniously?" Because as compared to say 2010, I can't seem to identify one single successful milestone. When I shared this with Jamie, he said, "You are being too hard on yourself. Look through your calendar, and I am sure you will realise that you have accomplished a lot…" Thank God for the significant other… always logical, practical and eternally supportive. :)

I did go through my calendar, looking for glimpses of inspiration, and to be honest… secretly hoping I have some successes that I can share with you in this 'annual report'. However, I am still unable to identify many or any worthy feats I felt that was worth sharing.

And just about then, I read a newspaper interview with the Acting Minister of Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports, Chan Chun Sing. He was asked to give his opinion on the declining birth rate in Singapore. He shared that he would not put pressure on his children to get the best grades in school. More importantly, he will nurture them into disciplined, determined and responsible people. The reporter quipped, "But that's not society's definition of success…" Chan then explained that he believes that it is up to us to redefine the definition of success. "There are many roads to 'success' ", he said.

Which led me to think… What is my definition of success?

My definition of success like many others' are "Wealth, financial freedom, high-flying career, fame…" In other words, no failures. The reason I felt that I do not have many 'successes' to share this year is because even though I did embark on several new projects this year, most of them either did not pan out well or did not achieve the level of results that I wanted. This of course has caused me many endless frustrations throughout the year.

As I reflected on this, I suddenly had an epiphany… Steve Jobs would have been the epitome of success for many. Yet, as cancer slowly took over body and his life, I believe something he wished for, something that none of his success could buy is… to regain his health. To have more time to spend with his family. To watch his children grow up.

Closer to home… I have attended many funerals this year. Many of which were precious lives snuffed out by cancer. There were three deaths that I took especially hard. Not because the others who have passed on were not precious in my eyes. But it is because I felt that these three people had their lives cut short, their dreams unfulfilled. They died so young. Too young. They would never have the chance to see their children grow up, graduate, get married. Nor would they have the chance to grow old with their loved ones. Nor would they get to experience doting on their grandchildren. Yet… even as they battled cancer knowing that they did not have long to live, they were determined to live a full and complete life. They continued to inspire the people around them with their unyielding passion and perseverance. 

And then I realised… with all that I have been blessed with, what right do I have to complain? Why am I here whining and lamenting? The problem is… my definition of success.

I HAVE TO redefine success. Success is not about material wealth. Success is not about keeping up with the Joneses. Success is not about living up to societal expectations. Because when people are at their deathbeds, their dying wish have never been, "I wished I could have made more money or I wish I have run more businesses…". In fact, I read a report this year about the 5 biggest regrets that people have when they are dying, and the one that struck a chord with me is… 

I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

It has finally dawned on me that:

Success is not a destination. It is a journey.

Success is not defined by others. It is defined by what you hold most important to you.

So, what is success?

Success to me is…

A happy marriage, a happy family.

A healthy body, a healthy mind.

Ability to make a difference in people's lives.

With my newly redefined meaning of success, the year 2011 has actually been an extremely successful year!!!

Jamie and I celebrated our 6th year wedding anniversary and our 11th year of being together. He has always remained my rock, my anchor, my cheerleader. :) Despite my hectic travelling schedule, I have spent a lot of quality time with my parents as well as my two wonderful children. Through Corum and Cara, I have learned to play, to laugh and to smell the roses.

I have never felt healthier… having lost weight and maintaining the weight loss with occasional exercise (I should do more!) and healthy eating.

And everyday, I am making a difference to people's lives through my chosen vocation. Wedding bells have been ringing throughout the year. And we have also been informed of many 'Lunch Actually Babies'. :) And thanks to my unique profession, I have also been invited to share my journey thus far at many meetings, forums and conventions – giving me a chance to inspire others to either pursue their own entrepreneurial journey or to be in a happy and fulfilling relationship, or both. :)

Yes, year 2011 has been a SUCCESS! Wow, isn't it amazing how a slight change of perspective changes EVERYTHING?!

To all of you – my family, my friends, my readers who have touched my life in one way or another, I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart… thank you for making a difference in my life.

And as we usher in the year 2012, I hope you too will take some time to reflect on what success means to YOU… :)

Happy New Year my dearest friends!

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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