Success – how do you measure it? A big house? A fancy car? Lots of money in the bank? Lots of friends? A thousand Facebook likes?
It’s the start of a new year – one week down, 51 to go. Most of us are planning how to be successful this year.
But what does success mean to you?
Anyone else grow up in the ’80s? Remember yuppies? Brick phones? ‘Loadsamoney’? Dallas and Dynasty? Shoulder pads? (I hear they’re back in fashion).
Then came the recession, and the early 90s. I worked in a financial organisation at the time, and the ‘properties in possession’ department rapidly expanded across 3 floors; as people, unable to cope with high interest rates, lost their homes. The former buzzing nightlife of my local city was a ghost town and it was bloody hard to find a permanent job.
But, as soon as the economy heated up again, everyone was out there taking on mortgages 5x their salary and maxing out on the credit cards.
Fast-forward to the 2008 credit cruch; followed by another grim period of recession. The point I want to make isn’t about blaming banks or making a judgement on people’s spending habits, so bear with me.
The economy, once again, is on an upward curve. Great isn’t it? More people are daring to go freelance or start-up their own businesses. Forget about the depressing, awful state of other world affairs for a second; and things are looking good. It’s exciting.
So, for those of you are who aren’t ancient enough to have lived through two recessions – I urge you to stop and think for a moment about how you plan to be successful in 2016.
Here’s a clue – money doesn’t come into it.
I’m no expert on economics but I have learnt one important lesson; the economy goes up, and it goes down. If you don’t believe me, do some research – it’s a cycle.
So, if you find yourself becoming financially successful this year, try and remember this:
- It won’t last
- Don’t get too complacent
- It won’t last
A bit harsh, I know, but it’s true. Firstly, don’t take it personally. Even in good times, it still takes brains, courage and drive to start a business and make it work.
I’m just trying to say; don’t lose your head. By all means, have a great time, but use your money wisely. Got a bit of debt? Pay it off. Save some for a rainy day. Get yourself the best mortgage deal you can, and don’t borrow ten times your salary. Buy a car that you can afford to pay off with cash, not the one that makes your friends jealous. Most of all, think about the simple things that make you happy.
I wouldn’t blame you if you ignored me, especially if you’re young and this is the first time you’ve experienced the good times.
So, if you can’t (or won’t) take the above advice on board, at least listen to this: if you do well this year and have fun spending it – don’t get too used to it!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a huge movement towards holistic therapies and mindfulness – the focus being on people managing their own emotions, anxiety and finding time to just be. They’re even introducing it in schools; alongside random acts of kindness. How fab is that? Youngsters are being encouraged to take care of their own wellbeing, and focus on the important things in life.
But I’ve got a hunch – a fear – that everyone will get carried away and forget about wellbeing and kindness.
And I don’t want to watch with a sense of déjà vu as a new generation of people loses the plot.
I’m hopeful it won’t come to that. The younger generation seems to have a reputation for being lazy, self-centred and entitled, but I don’t think they’re a bad bunch. They’re more tolerant, environmentally aware and take better care of themselves than older generations.
The two recessions I’ve lived through allowed me to get my foot on the housing ladder and move up it. So I’m not talking from bitter experience – I’ve been lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
But there have been hard times – for a few years, my child’s disability because the sole focus of my life and work had to take a back seat. I’ve had to learn to live a different kind of life – and it’s not so bad. I have a clearer idea of what matters to me, and who I am.
Like most self-employed people, I’m still hoping that 2016 will be a financially prosperous year. I’m going to do my best to make it happen.
But, if I enjoy my work and the things I love to do, keep my children happy and safe – that will mean I’ve been a success. Anything else is a bonus.
How about you?
I’d love to hear how you measure success. What will make you a success in 2016? And have you kept your shoulder-pads from the 80s? If so, can I borrow them?
Have a great week.
Alison is a Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes offering a range of services, including blogging for small businesses. For further information visit www.mkwordstudio.co.uk