Secrets of Success:
Thoughts From SGU Medical Students

Compiled by Tijana Samardzic


Success is such an enticing idea. You have all that you want, all that you need, and are exactly where you want to be in life. So when does this moment come? Maybe you're thinking like your fellow classmates:

"Being where you want to be is not the same as how you want it to be. People's definition of what's important is subjective to where they've been."

Or more plainly put:

"I honestly have no idea. I hope I'll know it when I see it."

Is it something you only experience once you've achieved all you've wanted to do?

"I think of it as a path. Studying for a profession that I will do for the rest of my life goes along with happiness."

Is it a constant indicator of your motivation and dedication towards your life's greater purpose?

"Success is achieving a position in life and state of mind that you do not desire to alter or affect in any way whatsoever."

Is it something you strive for at all moments?

Let's remember that we are all at SGU for Medicine to become doctors one day. I want us to all reflect back and ask ourselves WHY we are here. Why are we choosing this "path" over others? Undoubtedly it takes up a lot of our moments, but sometimes we need a reminder that life is not solely about gathering achievements; it's a matter of finding satisfaction and contentment within life in whatever you do. This includes ‘life outside of medicine.'

"Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed."

  • Corita Kent, American artist

How would you rate your success in life so far from 1-10?

I received a lot of uncertainty when asking this question. Some answered, "I don't know." and others were more decisive: "Perfect score: 10/10."

We don't stop to think about how we are doing in life. We just go. We just do. We don't ponder about why we prioritize certain things over others. Maybe you're not the one who's making the decisions in your life. Maybe your upbringing and environment are making a lot of those choices for you; without question. We live in a world that often suggests that success means being rich, famous, good-looking, having a great job, and always striving for bigger and better; and the only way you can make it to the top, is if you give 150% of yourself to this purpose. What do you get out of this? In most cases, burnout. What do you lose? Your current life.

"It's taken me a long time to accept that I'm not where I thought I'd be."

We tend to define ourselves and our moods based on our achievements, the boxes we've ticked off on our to-do lists.

"Success for today: 2. Success for life: 7.5-8."

Our happiness is linked to our resume:

"I know what a 10 would look like for me. I would have been practicing medicine and I would have established a nonprofit. [I'd be successful] if I'm contributing to the community and establishing something that's giving back."

When will all of this happen, and who or what will indicate that this is the moment you are truly a ‘10' for success and that now you can be happily satisfied with all your life happenings?

"When I have my career established and when I've left a good impact on all people I've met, [I'd be a 10]."

What about appreciating what we have now and what we've done to get to this specific moment we are in now?

Let's think of it this way:

"If I were to determine my own success, why wouldn't I give myself a 10?"


"10. I've done everything in my hands to fulfill my purpose."

Our 10's are relative. The biggest question I received when I asked for subjective ratings of success was to clarify what I meant by "success" and what I meant by "so far in life." No one found it a comfortable subject to approach. Neither did anyone think of their success as something that was current. It was instead a long-term standing and still part of a long to-do list that mainly contained: "Finishing medical school." What happens once you finish medical school? You look for a residency. After that? You look for a job. If you look at it this way, you'll quickly see that it's a never-ending path. You will never get to ‘10.' You will never get to the so-called societal ‘Success' or ‘Happiness.'

What does 10 look like to you?

"Accomplishing something each day. Having to apply myself in all aspects of my activities. Staying keen to my objectives through challenges and pleasurable moments."

"Usually you have a light in your eyes. It means you're facing your fears. When I have a light in my eyes, it's because I've faced a challenge."

"[Someone who's] not wasting their time here. [They're] using [their] days."

"Theoretically, you should be happy if you succeed. Happiness is you being comfortable with yourself no matter what you're doing. It is dependent on success. Lots of people's terms of success will not make them happy. Success in my terms is happiness; my definition of success is something that will make me happy."

"It's all relative; when I hit a 7, the 7 is going to look different than it does now."

It's a contest. Both with ourselves and with our peers around us. And our school screams that in our faces: You have to do better than not only your peers but also better than those studying stateside in order to even be considered for obtaining residency. How would this statement or idea make anyone feel about their best ability to continue with their passions and learn the things they want and need to learn to fulfill their goals?

"It makes sense [most won't rate themselves a 10]. We're in medical school. We are all Type A. We are constantly reassessing ourselves and reaching for more. There is no end."

This competition for success is only with ourselves. Along the same lines, success is up to you to define and determine for yourself. You know your potential and your passions. You are not like anyone else so why would success have one specific meaning? There is no right or wrong answer.

"I equate success with being happy with yourself. If you look in the mirror when you're 80 and you like what's looking back, that's success."

"I believe that my voice will be heard one day. I will wake people up one day; spiritually. They are missing the reason why we're here."

So what's missing?

Exactly this:

"When I got into medical school I thought I was an 8 but then I started and saw that getting through medical school is an 8."

It's a state of mind we have been taught to listen to.

"I don't know, right now I haven't accomplished what I've set out to do yet even though I have a Master's [degree]. I don't think that's enough."

Do you believe you've done well in life? Are you the person you have hoped to be? Are you happy in your skin? If not, why not?

"I'd rate myself a 5 or 6] That's where I am. If I hit an 8 or 9, I'd be bored and miserable. I don't think I'd ever hit a 10 according to my personality. No matter what I do, there's always something else I want to do."

There's no one telling you you're not good enough except for you. It's all a matter of what you put into what you're passionate about and also about remembering that your good health is of upmost importance in all instances. If you are not well, you will not do well:

"I don't do my best everyday; I do what I can. You have to nurture yourself. Make yourself strong first."

"If you ever think you're a 10, then there's nothing about yourself that you'd like to change."

And what's wrong with that? That does not mean you lose purpose. It means the path you have taken is perfectly suited for you, because you've chosen it.

What does success mean to you?

Challenge you to ask yourself this question. Discuss it with a friend. Realize how much more there is to success than what we've been backhandedly taught.

Listen to the wisdom of those around you:

"Happy is a verb. You have to reassess yourself everyday. You have to work for happiness. It's like trying to hold water in your palm."

"Success is something that I'm okay living with for the rest of my life. If you're satisfied and you've given it your all and left a good impact on others. That's success."

"Webster's definition has to do with wealth. But I believe it's more than that. It's contentment in every aspect of your life."

We are our own definition of success. You are what you think you are. Bring this with you throughout your medical studies as well as throughout the rest of your life, wherever that may bring you.

"The man who has done his level best, and who is conscious that he has done his best, is a success, even though the world may write him down as a failure."

  • B.C. Forbes




Supplemental Note from the author: "My motivation was curiosity about SGU's population within the medical school. I wanted to know what motivated us to keep going; what brought us happiness despite the stresses of a medical education. When speaking with peers, I first gave a brief synopsis of what I was writing about: The meaning of success within our respective societies as well as our own beliefs; wanting to compare the two ideas. Then, I started with a few questions and the conversation flowed with the topic, evolving from success to happiness, all the while connecting on a deeper level. It was a very rewarding experience to be able to speak to fellow students about this idea. It not only broadened my view on the meaning of success but also forced people to reflect on what life meant to them. It was a beautiful privilege."