I was raised to believe—like the majority of Americans—that success means making a lot of money, living in a fancy house and driving a fancy car. Period. That's it. That's the entire definition of success in the USA. I've actually been criticized by people close to me for "not making money" and for working at "those" kinds of companies (in other words, unprestigious companies.) I suffered during some of the best time of human life—one's twenties and thirties—worried about making money. That's almost TWENTY YEARS of worrying about earning enough coin so I can not eat cat food when I'm no longer "employed."
Wow, there are so many things wrong with this model, I'm not sure where to begin!
First, success is how you define YOURSELF. You're the only person that can define your success. How can someone else possibly tell you if you're successful or not? If you feel successful, then you are. Period.
Second, I refuse to believe that we spiritual beings—having a human experience here on Earth in the Milky Way galaxy—are here for NO OTHER REASON than to spend our few years alive collecting as many as possible pieces of green paper and trinkets until we die. Does anyone actually say on their deathbed, "Hey, look, my pile of paper and trinkets is bigger than yours!!" Once we die, that paper and trinkets gets transferred to SOMEONE ELSE ANYWAY! So the point was…???
Third, if your identity is what you own, then all I can say is I feel sorry for you. No wonder there are so many miserable people in this country.
I've decided to take a new approach. I've decided that I'm successful because I've either completed or have in some form of production approximately 15 films. 15 FILMS! How many people have done 15 of anything that's valuable except collect 15 pairs of shoes or 15 watches. I'm creating. They're consuming.
I'm successful because my rented studio apartment is rodent and roach free, has 6 windows that face east (sunlight is very important to me) and is located in a safe and clean neighborhood.
I'm successful because I have a plan for my future AND because I'm putting effort and action towards my plan, daily. The first part of that sentence is worthless without the second part. First plan, then take MASSIVE action.
Do not let anyone tell you you're not successful because you don't have Bill Gates dollars or Oprah dollars. It's perverse that in the USA the only way to be successful is at the extreme end. We are, indeed, a nation of extremists. There's no middle ground with us, just one end of the spectrum or the other.
Success is simple—you set a goal and meet it. Period. No one else's opinions matter.
Here's what DIY filmmaker MdotStrangE has to say about this topic.