What Success Means for Different Generations
There is a common thread among boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z after all
My personal idea of success has simplified over the years. Let me be self-indulgent for a moment. At this season, success is catching up to the person I wanted to be for a very long time. It’s finding peace with who I am, which overflows to the relationships I have.
For many, a general benchmark for success is attaining financial independence to, ultimately, provide for one’s family. This template, for years, is what I assumed the previous generations sought after; I wasn’t wrong but it paints an incomplete picture. This long-established mold works, but at the end of the day—I gathered—success is finding contentment.
For members of younger generations, there seems to be an altruistic desire to fulfill a need of the world. American writer Frederick Buechner said it best, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” At the same time, it’s working your way towards becoming a well-rounded individual.
Want to know more? I set out to find what success means to people from different generations. We may disagree with a lot, but there are things that tie us after all.
“[Success is] being happy and content with what you have and not wishing for anything that you don’t really need. I never thought about it [in the past]. I believe you can’t really plan for your future; there are things you can’t control. You pretend to plan for it [but] when it’s there, it’s not enough, so just enjoy life day by day.”
Editha Miñoza, 63
“After about 30+ years of working, now I’m retired; I think that’s one way of saying [that] I have a successful life because I have, maybe, established [my family]. Right now, [success] is probably contentment. Probably in the near future, as I go with my retirement, I think contentment I’d like to achieve for myself for this next chapter is to be close to our God and to serve Him because it’s my sole purpose now. When I got married, I [had] a stable job so my thinking was, now is the time to have a family and provide for my kids. The one purpose of our lives [as parents] then was to see our kids grow in a good environment and be successful in our careers.”
Joselito Evangelista, 61
Gen X (1965-1979)
“Success [means] getting to a point where there’s no more struggle. Na-reach mo na ang contentment. [Your] kids have it better than you; you just watch them raise their own [families] and you’re able to give support when they need it. At the end of it all, hindi pala better pay, house car or title, it’s the fruit [of your labor].”
Estee Bundoc, 52
“Success is living out your God-given dreams.”
Bambi Olmedo-Araneta, 48
View this post on Instagram
Gen Y or Millennials (1981-1996)
“My definition of success personally would be to reach a point, financially, where I know I can retire comfortably. Not a lot of people of the previous generations, especially in the Philippines, actually have that retirement plan in place. I would like to be at that point where I can be comfortable knowing that if I stopped working, I’d still have enough income to take care of myself and not be a burden if I do have children in the future.”
Mikkel Bolante, 35
“For me, it’s knowing that I’m able to give the people I love my time and protection—in almost any form and circumstance—while finding my own satisfaction. It’s a process in flux. And the feeling of contentment comes from being able to adapt and overcome.”
“Success is being able to live out what I know to be my purpose in life. To me, it is not an endpoint, rather a state that I strive to achieve every day by living my life excellently. With that comes joy, in the midst of good and bad times.”
“Success is when you find meaning in the toil that you go through every day, not because it’s grand but because, in the things that you do, you’re making the world a better place. That’s where satisfaction in life comes from. Before, I considered success as, can I get a cushy job that takes me around the world where I can meet new people? Can I get married before I turn 30? Those are things I feel are good if the person does achieve them—we can celebrate that—but in the case of the person who doesn’t, who doesn’t even meet her own goals, it doesn’t mean it’s a failure. There are always ways to work within setbacks and detours, and when you do, you find meaningful work.”
Angel Yulo, 29
“A success indicator for me is when you can give a part of yourself to serve others; at the same time, there’s still a part of you that can give time for yourself and your family. You’re not just working to earn money, you’re also serving others.”
Sam Ayap, 26
“You’re in a state [of success] when you’re not worrying about your finances but aside from that, you’re in a situation where you’re able to work but not be pushed to work too much. [You get to] put yourself first before your professional life.”
Lorenzo Aquino, 28
Gen Z (1995-2015)
“I think for me, but it would extend to most, if not all of my peers, I’d want to find a livelihood that makes me feel like I’m happy doing it, [it’s] not [just] for the money. I think part of that is, possibly, doing something good for the world; I’m giving back to [my country] because this place made me. Just a side note, I think work should change me and help me grow; it shouldn’t limit me. I remember in a Soc Sci class, our prof said that at this point in our lives, we’re trying to find ourselves. If I can find myself and find what makes me happy, I’d consider myself to be successful.”
Gabe Reyes, 18
“I propose that success is a feeling of happiness and fulfillment in the achievement of goals and aspirations that you pursue with passion and purpose. Contrary, however, to what we have all been taught, success is arbitrary. It changes from person to person, experience to experience. Cultures even define them differently. But in this incredibly stratified world where we cannot deny that some do not have the same opportunities as others, success can be imposing. We define success as amassing billions of dollars, the ethics of which are questionable especially in this day and age, when success can be as simple as coming home to your dog at the end of a long day. Simply put, we get to define success.”
Luis Abesamis, 20
Whether your idea of success is a metaphorical checklist, a 5-year plan or an abbreviation before your name, all I can say is, I hope it involves happiness; at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.
Words Elisa Aquino
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver