07/01/2014 02:47 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2014

Don't Succeed, Thrive

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Ask anyone on the street what their definition of success is and their answer will undoubtedly revolve around money and power. The "American dream" -- a nice house and family, financial stability and a corporate job -- is a concept that has grasped the attention of our nations citizens and drives the way we live our daily lives. This idea of success brainwashes the younger generations into thinking that the only way to be happy is to be rich and powerful -- leading to stress, more physical and mental health risks and unhappiness, according to Arianna Huffington in her book, Thrive. I have to admit, as a recent college graduate I continuously find myself focused on making money and searching for a career that will allow me to climb into a respected, but more stressful, executive position. It's what I have always wanted... I thought.

Growing up in Kentucky -- a place that combines the traditions of the South with the conveniences of the North due to cities like Louisville and Lexington -- I was repeatedly encouraged to get the proper education and to excel in school. "School comes first little lady," my grandmother would say. "You have to get yourself a big girl job one day!" So naturally, as an impressionable and naive young girl, I believed that the key to success was to do good in school, acquire officer positions in organizations and start climbing that latter of excellence. By the time I was a sophomore in High School, I thoroughly understood the constraints of stress. Fifteen years old and I was already adapting to a lifestyle of little sleep, constant anxiety and pushing myself to meet deadlines.

College, however, put things into perspective for me as I began to change my habits and began to truly understand what I wanted out of my life. Of course, I joined a sorority -- what typical girl doesn't when they enter college? I dove into my school work as a Broadcasting major and joined organizations that would build my resume. That is what we are suppose to do in college -- stress ourselves out to build that resume, a piece of paper that mildly outlines our involvement. I began to realize by the end of my junior year, however, that the piece of paper called a resume didn't document my sleepless nights, the wrinkles I gained as a young adult, the number of caffeine headaches I was prone to while studying for hours for upcoming tests.

Well-being, a concept part of the Third Metric mentioned in Huffington's book, was one thing that I realized I was lacking. The Third Metric is a concept that redefines the typical standard of success, according to Huffington. While there is money and power, the Third Metric combines the ideas of well-being, wisdom and wonder to truly encompass what an individual should possess to be successful. I realized I was missing out on so much as a young adult. Those years that are so vital in teaching a college girl who she should become were quickly passing by. Once I graduated, I was going to be caught in the ocean current known as corporate America -- a place everyone ends up and struggles to escape. So what did I do to veer from this path while still seeking a stable future? I adopted a dog.

Mac, the key to my heart and the key to my success, saved me from myself. A dog found at the Bowling Green Humane Society, we immediately bonded and he became my first child. Cheesy, I know, but it was the remedy that helped cure the stress that I faced every day. An animal (more like a human, actually) that showed me love and offered me comfort every time I walked through the door from a stressful day at work and school, taught me how to balance my life appropriately. I made Mac a priority -- the only responsibility that I truly enjoyed.

In my opinion, the key to redefining success is exactly this: finding responsibilities that you enjoy. No, not responsibilities at work or school that you enjoy, but responsibilities in your personal life. Do you like to write? Make a blog your responsibility. Do you like to run? Get a group of runners together to meet on a weekly basis and make that your responsibility. I, as most college students do, understand how difficult it is to balance your personal life and work life. However, one enjoyable responsibility is all it takes to make a world of difference. By having the enjoyable responsibility that distracts from the stress of your daily work life you refresh yourself to perform at your best quality. It creates a win-win situation. You put your well-being first while combining the importance of creating a stable future for yourself. You Thrive.