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Anita Doron

filmmaker - curator of magic unrealism,

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Wealth and power have been our conventional measures of success. What definition will better sustain us now and how can we move into it?

The other day, my mother mentioned that she hasn't accomplished anything in her life. (She's a forest and machine engineer who hasn't found a suitable job since immigrating from the Soviet Union 20 years ago) It broke my heart to hear this. We live in a world that makes people value themselves more and more singularly by their career highs and financial prowess.

The conventional model of success has proven to be destructive, separating and pitting us against each other in competition.

What would be a better definition of accomplishment for us and how could we collectively shift toward embracing this?

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  • Apr 29 2011: As a student graduating from high school this year and about to pursue a degree in something, this question couldn't have been more relevant. Throughout the application process it seems to me that the definition of success is still focused around ones wealth, power, material possessions and because of this their social status. I have felt influenced to study something that would make me more "successful" by todays standards, but perhaps something that I don't enjoy. For instance, I could go to medical school, become wealthy, gain social status, own fancy cars, have a large house, etc, etc... Or, I could study what I am passionate about, perhaps have less wealth, less social status, maybe own a used car, rent an apartment, yet I would consider myself to be successful.

    It seems like this view of success is influencing myself, and other students like myself to choose a career path that may not bring them the most happiness or they may not be completely interested in, but will bring them the most wealth.

    To me, this is the complete opposite of what I view success to be. To be successful, I think what really matters is for one to be happy with their decisions and actions in their life. This could be different for everyone. One person could consider themselves to be successful if they complete a 5km run, some may consider themselves to be successful if they quit their job and travel the world. It could be as simple as teaching oneself to cook something new. Success should NOT, be measured in ones material possessions, job hierarchy, wealth, and social status. Sure, they may be "successful", defined by the current culture, but in the end are actually satisfied with what they are doing?

    Pardon my poor eloquence; this is my first post here on TED and I'm trying to keep up with the amazing linguistic skills that other posters have.
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      May 18 2011: You are oh-so-right, Mr. De Paoli. I myself went to college and studied something I loved, history. And then, to placate my father, I went to law school and became a lawyer. I hated it all. Some ten years after law school I had an opportunity to become a family mediator, which I took. For the following 35 years, until I retired, that's how I made a living for myself and my family. I devoted my life to helping other people towards mutual understanding and respect, a thing I loved to do. I earned far less money than I would have as a practising lawyer, but I did something that made me feel good about myself and all those around me. To tell you the truth, I don't know that studying a "practical" subject in college would do you any harm. It will perhaps make it a little easier for you to start out in the world of work. It frequently takes people quite a while to feel themselves out and discover what they "really" want to do. I've known many people who have changed not only jobs, but entire careers and specialities within their first fifteen years out of high school. English majors and accountants turning into doctors or nurses. Architects becoming lawyers. Lawyers becoming novelists. Doctors becoming financial advisers. But it's quite true, things were easier for younger job hunters in my time. These days it may well (I do not know this for sure) be best to study something practical in college, something that might even slightly improve your ability to get that critical first job afterwards. You will always, but always, have the opportunity to change in the future. In fact, if you're really meant for something other than what you're then doing for a living, I think it's quite doubtful that you'll be able to resist the change.
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        May 31 2011: Bravo unto you Senor Jaffe. Bravo that you have the courage to follow your own truth and path of what has been right for you.
        Esu

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