What’ll It Take To Feel Like You’ve Made It?

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What’s your number? Your metric?

Do you have one? Have you considered it? What’ll it take for you to actually be able to kick back and say, “yeah, that’s what I’ve been working for. I’ve finally made it?”

I’ll share my answer later on in the comments, but I’ve had this discussion with a bunch of people lately and been blown away by the diversity of answers, the radically different benchmarks people use and the way they approach the question.

So, how about you?

What’ll it take?

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22 responses

22 responses to “What’ll It Take To Feel Like You’ve Made It?”

  1. Jonathan,

    I love this question. I love to also ask, “Are you successful?” and “How will you know when you get there?”

    The other part of your great question is when you “arrive” at your own metric of success, what do you do now?

    Can’t wait to see all the great comments you will receive from this post.

  2. buddhalite says:

    always a lurker, never a commenter, but this is too tempting!

    i think ultimately what we come to realize is that no amount of external achievement ever seems to get us to that point of “now i’ve made it”. there always seems to be something more, more expansion, more earnings, more new projects, more recognition…whatever.

    i believe to get to that place of “i’ve arrived” we’ve got to turn inside, you know? for instance i personally still have things i want to achieve creatively and other personal goals (those last 10 pounds, ack), but i don’t have a sense of “waiting to arrive”. i don’t know if that makes sense. i guess it’s because there’s an inner sense of completion, a total acceptance and knowledge of myself on the inside.

    but that doesn’t mean there are not still things i want to achieve and explore – only it’s not with that feeling of “waiting for life to start” anymore. it’s a kind of paradox but i think if we really do the work of balancing ourselves internally we can simultaneously feel like we’ve arrived, and yet have much further to go.

  3. Ceres says:

    I don’t define “success” with money but with happiness. Using “contentment” as a metric, I am almost there. The only thing missing in my life is that someone special with whom I can share my life. I am very happy with the other aspects of my life otherwise – I am healthy; I have a good and satisfying career; I live below my means and save most of my salary; I surround myself with good friends; I have a set of very loving and healthy parents…the list goes on. I can say “I’ve finally made it!” when I finally find that somebody with whom I can grow old.

  4. Brian Holiman says:

    Made it? I’m not sure what that means exactly….

    I think the correct question is how are you doing on the journey? Or more specifically, what are you doing to make the journey significant?

    We’re all on a journey. You’re either driving or riding. Your choice. To say you’ve made it to me says you’re finished. So you must be dead then right? Thats when you’re finished in my book.

    So instead of focusing on the end result, focus on the journey, the process, delight in the little moments of holiness, of sacredness we all experience from time to time and get good at creating moments of joy and fulfillment in the things we sometimes consider small.

    One of my favorites is this. Bed time with my daughter. She’s 6 and a daddy’s girl. I cherish the quiet time with her as she holds my head in her little girl hands and kisses me on the cheek. To me, that makes me feel like I’ve made it.

    I suspect if we are honest with ourselves, we enjoy those type of moments more than the big score or the completed project or a certain amount of money in the bank or a career objective achieved. No doubt those are important, but without the kind of moments and journey I’ve discussed, these become hollow and fleeting.

    My two cents worth…..

  5. Alex says:

    when my passive income is greater than my fixed expenses

  6. lynette says:

    agreed, when my passive income exceeds my fixed expenses plus inflation.

  7. Julie says:

    From purely a career / work perspective, I’ll consider that I’ve “made it” when I can take guilt-free vacations, time off, etc. It needs to be guilt-free both from a monetary perspective (I can afford it) and a job perspective (I don’t need to worry about taking the time off from my job).

    If I want to go to Toronto for a week to visit family, no problem. If I want to go to a conference in Florida or take a week with my dad in Hong Kong or go back to my favourite chalet in the Alps, I can. Don’t need to ask permission, don’t need to worry about not paying rent or mortgage… just go.

    I’ll consider that having “made it.”

  8. Maya says:

    I don’t know. But I do know that I will know it once I have made it.

    I am not being flippant here, but it is a case of “I don’t know what I don’t know” ….

  9. Chris Zydel says:

    I just realized recently that, much to my surprise, I actually have “made it”! I’m doing the work that I love, I am always creating something, I work with fabulous, motivated, soulful, conscious people and I have plenty of business and business opportunities. And I don’t seem to be being affected much by the economic craziness.

    Now, the big question is how to handle having “made it” and still maintain some semblance of balance in my life.

  10. This is a very interesting question and i have two answers for it:

    1. The financial topic: If i earn 5000$ per month without working actively. I will continue working, because my work is interesting but i dont need to.

    2. The private topic: I have already made it. I love my work, i love my wife and my kids. Everyone is healthy. I am happy and i often think about how grateful i can be.

  11. Ian Hyman says:

    I think that the journey is the destination. When we can fully embrace ourselves and our life where we are now and enjoy the ride as we continue to expand and grow, then we’ve made it.

    I also think that the journey takes place on the edge. The edge is that place of new territory for the soul. If we aren’t challenging our edge, then we are stagnant, and there isn’t much satisfaction in that. Even if on the outside we think we are growing, sometimes we can still be avoiding that ominous unknown territory where the real treasure awaits us. When we have the courage to walk the path of empowerment, by constantly following the edge, life will continue to be fresh, because each day we will be experiencing it as a different person, the person we have grown into.

    Life seeks to express itself in more expansive and beautiful ways, it wants blossom into newer, greater experiences. I think we all have that urge inside us, which is kind of like a friendly reminder nudging us to take the real journey!

  12. Enrico says:

    For me, it’s the unresolved mystery.
    I always feel uncomplete and far from the arrival, even if I know that it’s mostly in my head.
    I have a perfect girlfriend, she’s so beautiful and we love each other so much, a great health and aspect, friendship, family, etc. All aspects for which I should be happy, I’m more lucky than most people, I know.
    But I’ve this single bad problem with money and it’s enough to make me feel bad.
    You know, never finding the money for travelling abroad, or to take my girlfriend for a honeymoon, or to maintain a car, or paying the bills always late and having the bank on my neck, etc.
    And I try hard, I have a good resumeé so sometimes I change work or explore new things looking for better options, but nothing really changes. I really don’t know if I prefer to feel myself “not ready for success” or just unlucky, but love and health are not completely enough to be happy if you have not the freedom to realize your desires.
    This freedom is, in the end, what’s crucial for me to “feel like I made it”.

  13. Usiku says:

    When my contributions and purposes have been extended, passed on and continued beyond myself.

  14. jessica says:

    Some interesting answers, and a good question, Jonathan. I wish I could say I’m “making it” on my journey right now, but I’m still trying to figure it all out. I’m only 23 but the pressure to succeed in my generation is overwhelming.

    Success is such an interesting notion to contemplate. Everyone has a different definition. Some people want a million dollars, personally it’s not the money that i desire but money can equal freedom. People who say money doesnt equal happiness have obviously never had to scrimp and save to pay the buills and hang on to the mortgage while trying to have a decent kind of life.

    But to answer your question, I’ll feel that I’ve “made it” when I publish my novel. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some money out of it and leave my day job, or at least work part-time so I can focus on my creative endeavours. Butif I died and my novel had been published, that would be enough for me.I would have “made it”

  15. Jonathan Fields says:

    I love coming back to posts after a busy weekend and finding such a great collection of thoughts. Truly inspiring, thanks so much, as always for sharing.

    For many years, I had very concrete goals about what I’d need to “have” to feel like I’d finally made it. In the early days, my goal was to simply have $5 million in liquid assets that would generate $250-$500,000 in fairly stable interest income. And, the standard nice house, all sorts of other stuff that shows up on many “vision boards” these days.

    But, my thinking has evolved a lot, right or wrong, to embrace the notion that making it is largely about your ability to do what you love, be with you you want to be with, see and embrace what’s right in your life more often than what’s not and be consistently lighter and more present in everything you do. To spend more time creating, rather than responding to life.

    I don’t see it so much as an accumulation of money or stuff thing anymore, because that can all go away in the blink of an eye and, in my mind (which bounces between Eastern philosophy and NYC street wisdom), making it isn’t really making it if one bad market crash, business issue or illness can take it all away.

    Some years ago, Professor Richard Easterlin surveyed a group of people and asked them a similar question and most listed a litany of benchmarks, from money saved to cars to houses and more that they believed they’d need to feel like they’d finally made it. 20 years later, those same people were interviewed. Many had accumulated exactly what they strove to accumulate.

    They’d gotten exactly what they believed, 20 years earlier, would make them feel like they’d arrived. Only now, they didn’t feel like they thought they would. In fact, they now thought they’d need substantially more to feel like they’ve made it.

    In fact, I’ve known many millionaires, and even a few in the $100 million range and most of them don’t yet feel like they’ve made it. So defining making it by what you have is a very slippery slope.

    Does that mean I don’t care about money? Of course not, I want to live comfortably in the world and be able to do and share in experiences. It’s a piece of the puzzle that’s still very much a work in progress for me. It’s just not at the core of how I’d define making it.

  16. Pete says:

    Hey, Jonathan, I have a fun game for you. How about you see how long you can go without using the words “truly” or “inspiring?” Eh? Eh? Variations count. 😀

  17. […] at Awake at the Wheel, Jonathan posed a key question: What’ll It Take to Feel Like You’ve Made It? If you’re going to live a simple life, I think this question is central. To be honest, […]

  18. John Carson says:

    I don’t think I will ever say, “That’s it guys — I made it! Bye!”

    My work is very interesting, and I’m too active to sit around. Even a lottery win would help me start up a small company helping others; would love to have spare cash to invest in some start-ups and give others a chance.

    Good question, JF.


  19. V. Higgins says:

    Definitely an interesting question… I’m young (mid-20s) so I’m still getting my feet under me.
    In some ways, I feel like I’ve ‘made it’, I’m married to a wonderful man and we’re working on making our home a sanctuary, not just for ourselves but for those who visit us as well (which is a challenge with an apartment). We’re working on ourselves and our relationship.
    I think what I’m still really waiting for/pursuing is knowing that I’ve made an impact in the lives of those around me. I’m building those relationships and learning all I can so that I can be that big sister/substitute mom that is there for encouragement, a hug, a place to cry or laugh. I think when I’ve earned that trust from people then I’ll feel like I have my feet firmly on the path for me.

  20. JS says:

    i have a great job where i just got promoted to vp…i have a beautiful wife and two beautiful kids and i know that most likely, i will never be satisfied…never feel like i’ve made it. i think this is part of the human condition and can only be solved by working on my mental attitude. i’ve read some of these posts saying that a chalet in the alps or vacationing guilt free will do it. not for me…there is nothing externally that will ever make me feel complete. only feeling completely at peace internally will do it and i guess that would be considered enlightenment…how many of us achieve that? really really good topic.

  21. MY says:

    I know I’ve made it when I can pay all my bills with a smile, make the one I love smile all the time and I’m able to fully take care of my family well.

  22. Kelly@SHE-POWER says:

    I’ll feel like I’ve made it when I make a living writing books and teaching and I regularly get letters/emails from enthusiastic readers who have been inspired by my words. When I can travel as much as I want and pack up and move overseas for a few months if I want to. When I feel content and connected to life and loved ones and my sense of purpose more often than not. When I don’t have to think “Where is the money coming from to pay XYZ?”

    I already know I have made it when my son snuggles into my chest to read books before bed. When my husband phones from work to say he loves me. When I am drunk and laughing champagne out my nose on a night out with my girlfriends. When the sun is shining nd I am lying on the beach in my safe and cruisy Sydney suburb.

    Count your blessings today and look forward to more is my motto.