Have your read Walden? It may have assigned to you in high school. Did you read it? If you did, you probably don't remember. Our young teenage minds were filled with things far too shallow to understand Thoreau.
Yes, that’s the author’s name. Henry David Thoreau. Now, do you remember?
Thoreau was an American Transcendentalist who moved into a cabin near Walden Pond to remove himself from our very social, very consumer life. After years of isolation, he gathered his thoughts on solitude, simplicity, and self-sufficiency and presented them to the world in Walden.
(No, I am not going to require that you read it. Nor will there be a pop quiz. I'm just going to hit the high points.)
In his Conclusion, Thoreau says,
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws will be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings."
He concludes the paragraph:
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
This is the message of the book. If you advance in the direction of how you imagine your life, not how convention dictates that it should be, then you will find success on a scale undreamed through reasonable expectations.
If not now, at some point, you will stand in reflection upon your past. You will wonder what this life has all been about. Who am I? Am I a success? You will calculate what you have earned. You will think about your success in relation to others. You will compare your house, your car, your children, your spouse, your job, your education, your 401K. After all of that is tallied, you will, inevitably, feel as though it is not enough. It is never enough. For there is always someone who is has more, went further, acquired more; and, the comparison will leave you unfulfilled.
This is when Thoreau appears. He waits for you in his “tightly shingled and plastered, English-style 10' × 15' cottage in the woods near Walden Pond.” He will tell you to judge yourself on a whole new rubric. He'll point to you and tell you not to feel the pressure to prove yourself to others but to accept the freedom to be your genuine self.
Are you wondering what my point is? It's this.
Success is a by-product. It is not a source of suffering. It is not profit or popularity. Success comes when you grasp who you are and be that person. So, why don't you just go be that person. Start today.
Oh, and if you haven't, maybe you should, check him out: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/205/205-h/205-h.htm