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How do you define success?

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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

How do you define success?

Old 12-10-12, 11:50 PM
  #1  
Newspaperguy
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How do you define success?

A comment I've seen on this site and some comments I've heard elsewhere have me thinking about how we define success.

Around here, it seems a lot of people embrace a simple lifestyle, which does not include the trappings of wealth we often see. Without the pursuit of more things or in some cases more wealth, what does it mean to be successful? And along with that, does it matter if your vision of success does not measure up to the standards set by mainstream society?
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Old 12-11-12, 12:14 AM
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lasauge 
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This is a car-free topic?

I'll add my two cents anyhow: a "success" is a positive outcome that follows as the result of personal decisions. I think the way you phrased your question leads my answer somewhat, but I tend to believe that success is something which every individual defines for themselves: some people think that you need lots of money to be successful, some lots of friends, some power, some sex, some excitement, some spiritual fulfillment, and so on - being successful really depends on what you value most in life. Personally, I am in a constant quest for an ever more pleasant state of satiety in my mind, body, and surroundings.
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Old 12-11-12, 12:26 AM
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I would like to comment, but I'm in a transitional period of my life (going simple). A lot has changed and I still have not found my level of comfort yet.
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Old 12-11-12, 12:39 AM
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Here's the car-free connection:

We have a few posts here about car-free dating and the perception that a car-free person is a loser because he or she does not have a car. We have had questions from time to time about whether car-free people have a harder time finding work because they do not own cars. We have a huge simple living thread in this sub-forum, with plenty of discussion about needing less and living with less. Even if we don't want to admit it, those of us who are car-free or car-light think about definitions of success.

Those who are car-free have already rejected one of the biggest identifiers of success, namely the car one owns. Often, this also means rejecting the more prestigious neighbourhoods, the suburbs and the acreages and instead living closer to the core of a city, in a more walkable neighbourhood which may also be less desirable than other addresses.

I know the question I raised moves into the philosophical realm, but car-free or car-light living is as much about a mindset as about a set of actions.
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Old 12-11-12, 02:10 AM
  #5  
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I'm a success because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and everyday I make a maximum effort to lead my life by His teachings and example. While I may be poor ($11,604 a year) I'm rich spiritually. I actively give back to my community in my time and do my share of volunteer work. Witnessing and leading others to Christ is my real work and where I define myself as a successful person. I've saved 4 people and I'm proud of it!
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Old 12-11-12, 02:18 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
Here's the car-free connection:

We have a few posts here about car-free dating and the perception that a car-free person is a loser because he or she does not have a car. We have had questions from time to time about whether car-free people have a harder time finding work because they do not own cars. We have a huge simple living thread in this sub-forum, with plenty of discussion about needing less and living with less. Even if we don't want to admit it, those of us who are car-free or car-light think about definitions of success.

Those who are car-free have already rejected one of the biggest identifiers of success, namely the car one owns. Often, this also means rejecting the more prestigious neighbourhoods, the suburbs and the acreages and instead living closer to the core of a city, in a more walkable neighbourhood which may also be less desirable than other addresses.

I know the question I raised moves into the philosophical realm, but car-free or car-light living is as much about a mindset as about a set of actions.
I don't know all about other places in North America, but where I've lived, Colorado, California, Europe and Washington state, the walkable areas of a city, the places where it's possible to not drive everywhere you need to go, ARE the desirable addresses. In many US cities, the central areas are by far the most expensive real estate there is. Personally, I find these walkable/bike-able areas to be far more livable than the 'burbs, and I think that a lot of people agree with me; the poor and even in some cases the middle class are being driven from these areas because wealthier people than them have decided that commuting sucks. In Port Townsend, WA, it's people with low-wage service jobs who commute into town, not the professionals.

I'm not poor, but I'm also not a very well-off person by any stretch of the imagination, so living in the more humane parts of my megapolis entails a few choices regarding my consumption habits. To afford to be here, I live in a small, rather old condo with no yard, eat a lot of rice, beans and vegetables, often buy my clothes at thrift stores, and own a slowly dying, 20 year old Volvo which I only rarely drive. I don't even use public transportation unless it's necessary. In exchange for these insignificant sacrifices, I get to live in an interesting city with lots to do, have very low transportation expenses, have a 10-15 minute commute by bike, stay pretty healthy and fit for my age, manage to travel a bit every year, and am able to walk or bike everywhere I go if I feel like it. It's not exactly a Faustian bargain....
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Old 12-11-12, 03:06 AM
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Success = living comfortably while working less than 40 hours a week, no stress, no drama, no unnecessary stuff. Not there yet.
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Old 12-11-12, 07:50 AM
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Success means living ABOVE subsistence levels.The minimum would be ,to at least have a full time job and be able to pay your own bills and buy/do things that you enjoy... If you are the type of person who constantly has to ask favours, ask other people for money, ask other people to borrow their stuff ( because you can't afford your own), then you are depending on other peoples success... People who are successful know how to handle and manage their money...lossers just blow their money on all kinds of useless unnecessary stuff and then they complain about being poor and blame rich people for their problems. I am not saying that you have to own a mansion and expensive cars..what I am saying is that you need to be responsible, have self-discipline, be willing to work hard to provide for your own needs.
Don't just drift through life and expect a free handout.
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Old 12-11-12, 08:29 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by iheartbacon View Post
I'm a success because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and everyday I make a maximum effort to lead my life by His teachings and example. While I may be poor ($11,604 a year) I'm rich spiritually. I actively give back to my community in my time and do my share of volunteer work. Witnessing and leading others to Christ is my real work and where I define myself as a successful person. I've saved 4 people and I'm proud of it!
You and I have a lot in common.

Like you, I'm poor in terms of money, at least compared to others in Europe and North America. (Millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America would consider us both to be fabulously wealthy.) I also do volunteer work and participate in political struggles that I believe will benefit my community. In terms of religion, I'm an atheist (thank God!) and I'm proud to spread the word about the religion industrial complex. (We'd better not discuss the last point any further, lest we be bounced from the forum.)
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Old 12-11-12, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
I don't know all about other places in North America, but where I've lived, Colorado, California, Europe and Washington state, the walkable areas of a city, the places where it's possible to not drive everywhere you need to go, ARE the desirable addresses. In many US cities, the central areas are by far the most expensive real estate there is. Personally, I find these walkable/bike-able areas to be far more livable than the 'burbs, and I think that a lot of people agree with me; the poor and even in some cases the middle class are being driven from these areas because wealthier people than them have decided that commuting sucks. In Port Townsend, WA, it's people with low-wage service jobs who commute into town, not the professionals.
I believe you neglected to mention a major factor affecting the relative desirability/livability of walkable/bike-able areas in major US cities: Local public schools. I believe you will not find many families with school age children flocking to these areas because even if "desirable" for themselves, they are possible hell holes for their children's education both in school and in their neighborhood. Of course if the family is really wealthy they might limo their kids to and from private schools and still maintain their urban pioneer credentials.

Many yuppies do find these center city walkable/bike-able areas quite desirable for their lifestyle if they can afford them, but the same people are likely to be moving as soon as they have school age children, or maybe after their children have one too many encounters with "urban diversity."
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Old 12-11-12, 10:47 AM
  #11  
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Why should I care if some thinks I'm successful or not, if they don't like me for me, SCREW them, I don't need them, period. I gave up a long time ago on "approval by committe", what a silly joke, the keeping up with the Jones has ruined lifes and marriages, etc.! LOL, well I guess I'll never be succesful anyway cause I've never managed money properly, never had enough of it to have to "manage it"! It buys what we NEED and a few things we WANT and it's GONE. We'd have to live in a cave and forge for roots and berries to actually have enough money to "SAVE", therefore have to manage it! If I'm not up to YOUR level of sucess and that would make you not want to get to know me, then PLEASE don't bother me, I'm doing just fine without the hassle! JMHO, YMMV.
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Old 12-11-12, 12:02 PM
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Success to me is achieving goals in the time expected. I succeed at some things and not at others.

My life is very different from the one I envisioned as a teenager. I've never owned a super sports car but I did own a really cool motorcycle that I wanted. Right now I'm unsuccessful mostly due to income limitations and I don't even want much. I'm about to leave one of my part time jobs and take another. The pay will be less per hour but more hours will make up for it. I've got an application in for a really good full time job. Unfortunately it is with a large corporation where bean counters tell the big boss how to run the place. I would be OK dealing with that for a year or so to get enough money to make my latest goals happen.

To put this in financial terms, being successful is always having at least a little more money than you need, even when wanting to buy expensive toys or houses. If you can spend money and always have some left over, you're really doing well.
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Old 12-11-12, 12:21 PM
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I think that success is the pursuit of excellence, not perfection, in an endeavor. You know, practice being the best version of yourself you can be. Be considerate of the endeavors you pursue and do them to the best of your ability. If you are a cyclist, be a good and considerate cyclist. If you are a religious person, be dedicated. If you are a family person, be loyal. If you don't have a lot of money, be thirfty. If you are a Yankees fan, consider a different team.
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Old 12-11-12, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartbacon View Post
I'm a success because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and everyday I make a maximum effort to lead my life by His teachings and example. While I may be poor ($11,604 a year) I'm rich spiritually. I actively give back to my community in my time and do my share of volunteer work. Witnessing and leading others to Christ is my real work and where I define myself as a successful person. I've saved 4 people and I'm proud of it!
+1 There's not a lot that sticks with us once we die, and knowing God used us to bring others to Him is the pinnacle of success as I see it.
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Old 12-11-12, 01:06 PM
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I was chasing after that brass ring for a long time and had more than most in the way of physical things... a nice home, numerous cars, and toys like my motorcycle... and no debts.

But I wasn't really happy.

My life is a lot simpler now and I am doing what I want to be doing, am living with and loving the most wonderful woman in the world, and am watching my daughters grow up into the most beautiful and amazing young ladies.

I am there for them all the time instead of working 60-80 hours a week and we still do not want for anything.

After five years of being car free I now have a rather simple car that cost me very little and continues to cost me very little and has opened up our world just a little bit when it comes to travelling more.

I do not care how anyone else measures theirs or my success or failure.
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Old 12-11-12, 01:36 PM
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I define success as being able to secure one's needs and, to a lesser extent, wants and having a cushion of some sort to fall back on when necessary; being able to spend the bulk of one's time choosing from among positive options rather than from negative or even neutral ones; continual improvement of one's health and knowledge and/or skills; and the ability to live with integrity, meaning that one's life is aligned in such a way that one can consistently live according to one's own values even in the face of negative social or financial consequences.

For the most part, I feel that I have been pretty successful with my life so far, and riding a bicycle has been both a tool to achieve that and an expression of its accomplishment.

I do think that, for many people, outside standards of success DO matter to them, and I don't fault anyone for that being the case. It's hard to go against the general flow of things (that's the real reason why more people don't ride bikes for transportation) and it has all sorts of consequences - from not being able to find a date to being passed over for a much-needed promotion to, in extreme cases, death - as history has repeatedly shown us. It's understandable to struggle with anxiety over being considered "successful".
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Old 12-11-12, 02:22 PM
  #17  
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Thought provoking question.
To me success is setting goals and working for them. Some of my goals were established by listening to my grand parents and parents. I may have influenced my son with those goals as well to some degree. I was taught to find my faith, go to school, study hard. Get a job and do the best that I could. Make a budget and spend X amount for Housing, X amount for transportation, X amount for food, X amount for Children's education and X amount for savings. Sometimes that means sacrifice and sometimes we fail along the way. Still getting to the point of retirement with enough to retire. Not having any self created bills. Housing paid for, transportation paid for, no credit card payments. Starting the kids off in the right drection. Having a mate to grow old with. Living in a relitively secure area where you can walk around at night because of a lower than average crime rate are all examples of success to me, from my upbringing.

I don't expect others to see success the same way as I do nor do I consider them as failing if they don't. To some success is simply surviving and to others it is living an abundant life. Some have no choice.

Last edited by Mobile 155; 12-11-12 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 12-11-12, 03:17 PM
  #18  
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I just want to minimize the time spent doing things I do not enjoy. I don't like to drive, so I don't. I didn't like my old job, so I went back to school and got a new one.

I guess that's how I define success...by the time spent not doing stuff I don't like. Simple, really - deciding what it is you enjoy gets complicated, though.
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Old 12-11-12, 04:08 PM
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For myself, I guess that when I am not truly bothered by the limitations on what I would sometimes like to do imposed by my chosen career and lifestyle, I will be successfull.

I grew up reading Pogo(not that old myself, the books were thirty to forty years old when I was a kid)and always kind of liked the philosophy of Churchy La Femme.

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD]Chapter 1
[/TD]
[TD]Churchy la Femme:
Not workin’? That’s show business?
Porky:
Sure.. That’s bein’ at liberty .. Not workin’ don’t mean you is out of show business.. It jes’ mean you ain’t eatin’.
Churchy:
Not eatin’!? Jes’ ’cause you ain’t workin’ you don’t eat? Some business!I’d rather loaf fer a livin’.
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Chapter 2
[/TD]
[TD]Howland Owl:
[...] If turtles got a strong union you mought git hunnerds an’ hunnerds.
Churchy:
What? Then the job is out.. I can’t afford to take it.
Owl:
Can’t afford it! You ain’t makin’ nothin’ doin’ what you’s doin’ now!Churchy:
I know! An’ if I loses this job.. what’s I lose? Nothin’! But if I ever lost a job makin’ hunnerds an’ hunnerds of dollars a week if would break me. I couldn’t afford it!
[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

Last edited by shipwreck; 12-11-12 at 06:48 PM. Reason: spelled chosen as chosed. Its like I'm from Arkansas or somthin
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Old 12-11-12, 04:23 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I believe you neglected to mention a major factor affecting the relative desirability/livability of walkable/bike-able areas in major US cities: Local public schools. I believe you will not find many families with school age children flocking to these areas because even if "desirable" for themselves, they are possible hell holes for their children's education both in school and in their neighborhood. Of course if the family is really wealthy they might limo their kids to and from private schools and still maintain their urban pioneer credentials.

Many yuppies do find these center city walkable/bike-able areas quite desirable for their lifestyle if they can afford them, but the same people are likely to be moving as soon as they have school age children, or maybe after their children have one too many encounters with "urban diversity."
I think this is key.

Right now, I'm happy to be in pseudo-yuppie territory. I don't drive because I don't particularly like it, and I don't need to because I live downtown (and my car was apparently cursed). However, I won't pretend that I enjoy the "simple life"... I like skiing and technology and good beer and good coffee, and I can afford to pay for those things. Not having to pay for a car is nice, but not essential.

However, I could not imagine raising a family in our 900 square foot condo. I'm not even sure if children are allowed in my building. Ideally, if I were to stay in Calgary and raise a family, I would want to stay in one of the inner-city neighbourhoods, but those are very expensive (with the older bungalows beginning around $500k).

Back to the original question... Success seems to be a moving target. I'm a couple of years away from my PhD, and right now I'm thinking I'll be "successful" if I can land a faculty position. However, if I get there I'm sure that definition will change to "tenured faculty", which might shift to "research chair"...

Ultimately though, I really just want a significant equation to be named after me. Is that so much to ask?
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Old 12-11-12, 04:54 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by bjjoondo View Post
Why should I care if some thinks I'm successful or not, if they don't like me for me, SCREW them, I don't need them, period. I gave up a long time ago on "approval by committe", what a silly joke, the keeping up with the Jones has ruined lifes and marriages, etc.! LOL, well I guess I'll never be succesful anyway cause I've never managed money properly, never had enough of it to have to "manage it"! It buys what we NEED and a few things we WANT and it's GONE. We'd have to live in a cave and forge for roots and berries to actually have enough money to "SAVE", therefore have to manage it! If I'm not up to YOUR level of sucess and that would make you not want to get to know me, then PLEASE don't bother me, I'm doing just fine without the hassle! JMHO, YMMV.
Good post.

Maybe if I was 15 years old, you can pardon me for trying to act like the crowd. However, since I'm a middle age man, isn't it kind of silly trying to be something that I'm not! LOL!
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Old 12-11-12, 06:53 PM
  #22  
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I consider it to be having a sense of security. To look forward to the future rather than dreading it.
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Old 12-11-12, 07:51 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
This is a car-free topic?

I'll add my two cents anyhow: a "success" is a positive outcome that follows as the result of personal decisions. I think the way you phrased your question leads my answer somewhat, but I tend to believe that success is something which every individual defines for themselves: some people think that you need lots of money to be successful, some lots of friends, some power, some sex, some excitement, some spiritual fulfillment, and so on - being successful really depends on what you value most in life. Personally, I am in a constant quest for an ever more pleasant state of satiety in my mind, body, and surroundings.
Wow, couldn't have said it better myself. +1

My quest for constant success, lies somewhere between working a career that I want to get up and go to every day, to try and stay as physically & chemically fit as possible, growing further spiritually and to be able to afford the basic goods I have grown accustomed to.
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Old 12-12-12, 12:19 AM
  #24  
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“Success is getting what you want;
happiness is wanting what you get.”

~ Dale Carnegie

I got out of IT and am now free from Saturday morning phone calls where I am fixing a company wide computer problem. I took a pay cut, work as a shipper/receiver, and life is good. I am happy. I have more time to spend with my fantastic family.


"If you don't enjoy what you have, how could you be happier with more?"
~ (Unknown)

My Audi is a money pit. It evaporated my interest in vehicle ownership. On the other hand I really enjoy my bicycles. Now I need space to store them all and perhaps add one more to the collection.

In time, I will find what it is that I want to be doing and define my success, on my own terms.

Word.
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Old 12-12-12, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I believe you neglected to mention a major factor affecting the relative desirability/livability of walkable/bike-able areas in major US cities: Local public schools. I believe you will not find many families with school age children flocking to these areas because even if "desirable" for themselves, they are possible hell holes for their children's education both in school and in their neighborhood. Of course if the family is really wealthy they might limo their kids to and from private schools and still maintain their urban pioneer credentials.

Many yuppies do find these center city walkable/bike-able areas quite desirable for their lifestyle if they can afford them, but the same people are likely to be moving as soon as they have school age children, or maybe after their children have one too many encounters with "urban diversity."
I happen to be a middle school teacher in the heart of a rather large city, and I notice that the numbers of young couples with children has actually increased lately. I'm guessing that these young parents have done some basic cost/benefit analysis, and have concluded that living closer to where they work, while more expensive at the outset, is actually going to be more financially viable for them in the long run. There are also a lot of intangible factors involved, like not having to spend years of your life stuck in traffic on some freeway and being able to spend more of it at home with your kids. And, as an experienced teacher, I've noticed that some urban school districts have improved a lot lately, while some suburban school districts are rapidly getting worse, and still other suburban districts are already absolutely appalling. Don't automatically assume that your preconceived ideas are actually reality.
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