“Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind.

— Henry David Thoreau | Walden, 1854

As an artist and entrepreneur, I think I speak for my peers when I say that we have radically different motivations than the general population. My closest friends and colleagues are business owners, graphic designers, and strangely creative whackos. We’re motivated by a creative itch. An urge to solve really complicated problems. It’s pretty rare that we discuss material possessions, and even rarer that we’d measure success based on income. I don’t even know what my personal income was last year (I will surely know soon when I do taxes though, haha).

I am successful and fulfilled in life when these conditions are met:

  • I don’t use an alarm clock in the morning.
  • My bills are paid.
  • I am creating cool looking shit most days.
  • I don’t feel incredibly stressed.
  • I can take one long trip per year (usually a month) to another country.

That’s it.

MEASURE SUCCESS WITH YOUR OWN METRICS

I found this quote from Walden fascinating because even in 1854 Thoreau recognized we can just define success for ourselves. For him it was successfully removing himself from society and chilling in a cabin. For me it’s making art and not having a boss.

Maybe your metric for success is inspiring people. Maybe it’s doing good for those who need it. Maybe your success is just graduating school (for now). Maybe success IS a fat pile of cash. But it’s your choice!

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