Success: A Goal or Unhealthy Obsession?

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Entrepreneurs are high-energy people driven by the need to succeed. I have experienced this in myself, my colleagues and the students who attend my entrepreneurship class at USC. Respectfully, the term successful by its very nature is a subjective and personal term. However, in the business world it is usually defined by the amount of money you make.

It has been over twenty years since I was a young entrepreneur. As I write this article I find myself drifting back to a time when becoming a successful businessperson was the most important thing in my life. Back then I had set a ridiculously high standard. I wanted to be just like the successful business people I watched and admired. If I was to achieve true success, CNBC would contact me for an interview.

Having been born to a German farming family, I held the belief that success was dependent upon hard work. If I was consistent and earnest in my efforts, success would eventually take root and grow. After extensive education, both in academia and life experiences, I concluded that I needed to work smarter. Armed with this new insight I was convinced my high-level success was just around the corner. Although I was “climbing the ladder” I never felt successful. I still maintained such high standards that I could never enjoy the fruits of my labor. They were never enough.

When I was at the top of my game the recession hit. I saw business owners who had struggled for years to obtain a nest egg for retirement, lose everything. I was completely dismayed and questioned whether I was even chasing the right goals. I no longer wanted to be the overachiever in business, always forging ahead for some new monetary gain. I wanted a balanced life, where my personal dreams carried the same importance as my professional goals. I wanted to spend more time pursuing the things I loved doing. I finally came to the realization that my goals where unrealistically high and restructured my overaggressive ambitions.

My desire to have CNBC interview is now a distant memory. I no longer entertain thoughts about taking over the business world or being interviewed by anyone. Instead I look for business opportunities that I find rewarding. I have successfully created a life that provides me with the financial freedom I need, to pursue the things I enjoy. I finally figured out the true meaning of success. As it turns out, the goal in life is to be happy.

Lori Williams is a well-known business consultant, speaker and writer, and is the founder of which is an online resource for business information and advice. She helps entrepreneurs create the business life they desire.

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