We make achieving certain things vitally important to our sense of well-being because we fear what it says about our life if we can’t. We label it with an arbitrary value and importance that symbolises the attainment of a goal. That particular job means we’re successful, this level of influence means we’re powerful (or loved), and that amount of money means we’re rich. And secure. Whatever it is becomes the symbol and the measure of our ability to successfully manage our lives, and we presume that these things are the only acceptable options. We don’t just want it; we need it, because the issue is no longer about whatever it is, it’s about succeeding. It’s about winning. And it’s driven by fear.
Winning at life is a curious concept, and its goals are usually very specific; a particular future objective or a set of clearly defined steps leading to it. But we often fail (as we must) because we don’t allow for any viable alternative outcome or broader definition of success. Not achieving these goals means we’ve failed at life completely, and discounts the possibility that we might have grown or learned something, or achieved something else that we might not have considered in the process.
Being happy, for instance, is too precious a thing to be bound to any one specific goal, or any single definition of what it might depend on or look like. What could be more important than being happy? Winning?