Growthbeans supports Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong regarding the need for a “new social compact” and revisiting the definition of success apart from our traditional focus on academic achievements and meritocracy .
Every one of us is driven to succeed in life; this includes various aspects such as accumulating wealth, attaining lofty job titles and owning private property as a tangible measure of success. The term to describe this endless and competitive struggle is termed the rat race, which was first coined in the 1930s . In view of these stressors, it is important to take a step back and revisit our understanding of what success means to us as an individual apart from what society dictates.
So, this begs the philosophical question, what is the definition of success? If success is not benchmarked against external markers, then there is a need to have an alignment of what we value, what we are passionate about, and articulating our purpose in view of what society prescribes.
Letting go of the fear of failing and the judgement that we receive from society is crucial to have a deeper understanding of what success means to us personally. Psychologists interviewed by Today  agree that there is a pervasive fear of failure in Singapore society in achieving excellent results among Singaporean students. Instead of running away from failure, we need to recognise that we are human after all and embrace failure as part of life and view it as a learning opportunity to enable us to craft our own definition of success.
Having run Find Your Ikigai SG workshops for more than 300 students youths from ITE, polytechnics, universities and young working adults. We have found that everyone has different needs and wants in how they view success. ITE students often have an idea of what success could look like for them but have limiting beliefs due to strong societal messaging and expectations and the fear of disappointment while University students struggle with parental expectations versus pursuing their passion. The challenges that young working adults face range from managing toxic workplaces, being unclear of what they seek, misalignment in personal values and work values, lack of work-life balance, lack of relationships, support, and time management, etc.
Growthbeans have come across two participants; a student and a HR professional, both expressing that they were happy with where they are but were led to feeling unhappy and discontented because of peers or family telling them that they should be doing other things or to be more. To help one another aspire to be more is a good intent, but it requires moderation to allow us the space to find ourselves and choose how we want to define and lead our own lives on our own terms of success.
Another example Growthbeans has come across was in a recent conversation with a student on how he would define success for himself. The student was unable to because it wasn't about any specific outcome. For the student, what is important is the ability to explore. This brings to light another important consideration for us - is success an outcome or a process?
We believe it is up to each individual to determine that for themselves. As a society, we need to be able to embrace both and not just define success as outcomes otherwise the fear of failure will always prevail just because we have forgotten to celebrate the progress, learnings, and milestones along the way.
For us to redefine success, we need to support one another by giving each other space to reflect and discover, expand our perspectives on success, and not be compelled and hard-pressed to follow the herd or push others to follow the herd. Success can be obtained via less-trodden routes, and we can all embrace different definitions of success.
So let us take this opportunity to reflect on what success means to you and share with us your thoughts on how you would define your version of success.
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