If you compare yourself to certain people it's easy to feel you're unsuccessful. If you're an entrepreneur and you compare yourself to Richard Branson, you lose. If you're a musician and you compare yourself to Taylor Swift (especially if the point of comparison is earnings), you lose. If your goal is to change the world and you compare yourself to Steve...you lose.
That's the problem with comparisons. No matter how successful you feel, there will always be someone who is more successful. There will always someone better, or smarter, or wealthier, or seemingly more happy.
So let's stop comparing and just focus on you. Here are a few signs that you're more successful than you might think--and, in all likelihood, happier too:
1. You have enough money that you can make positive choices.
Many people live paycheck to paycheck. Worse, many have to decide between necessities. (My wife just mentioned the other day how once upon a time she had to decide between filling a prescription for an antibiotic or putting gas in her car.)
If you make enough money, and don't spend so much money, that you can make positive choices about what to do with some of it--whether it's investing, or taking a vacation, or taking classes...anything you want to do instead of have to do--then you're successful, both because you've escaped the paycheck-to-paycheck grind and because you can leverage that extra money to become even more successful.
2. You have close friends.
Close friendship are increasingly rare; one study found that the number of friends respondents felt they could discuss important matters with has dropped from an average of 2.94 to 2.08 in the last 20 years. (So much for the power of social media.)
If you have more than two or three close friends, be glad, not only for the social connection but also because the positive effect of relationships on your life span is double what you get from exercising and just as powerful as quitting smoking.
And where professional relationships are concerned...
3. You choose the people around you.
Some people have employees who drive them nuts. Some people have customers who are obnoxious. Some people have casual acquaintances who are selfish, all-about-me jerks.
Guess what: They chose those people. Those people are in their professional or personal lives because they let them remain.
Successful people attract successful people. Hardworking people attract hardworking people. Kind people associate with kind people. Great employees want to work for great bosses.
If the people around you are people you want to be around you...you're successful. (And if they're not, it's time to start making some changes.)
4. You see failure as training.
Failure sucks, but it's also the best way to learn and grow. There will always be trials, challenges, and obstacles--but perseverance always wins in the end.
Every successful person has failed, numerous times. (Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That's why they're so successful now.)
If you embrace every failure--if you own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time things will turn out differently--then you're already successful.
And in time, you'll be even more successful, because you'll never stop trying to be better than you are today.
5. You don't ask for anything.
We've all experienced this moment: We're having a great conversation, we're finding things in common...and then, boom: The other person plays the "I need something" card.
And everything about the interaction changes.
What once appeared friendly has turned needy, almost grasping...and, if you're like me, you feel guilty if you decide you don't want to help.
People who feel successful aren't needy. They accept help if offered, but they don't feel the need to ask. In fact, they focus on what they can do for other people.
6. You let others grab the spotlight.
OK, maybe you did do all the work. Maybe you did move mountains. Maybe you did kick ass and take names.
If you aren't looking for praise or accolades, that means you're successful. That means you feel proud on the inside, where it counts. You don't need the glory; you know what you've achieved.
If you enjoy the validation of others but don't need the validation of others, you're successful.
And you know it...even if you don't show it.
7. You have a purpose.
Successful people have a purpose. As a result, they're excited, dedicated, passionate, and fearless.
And they share their passions with others.
If you're found a purpose--if you've found something that inspires you, fuels you, makes you excited to get up, get out, and achieve--then you're successful, regardless of how much money you make or what other people think.
Why? Because you're living life your way--and that's the best sign of success there is.