Is Your Definition Of Success Working For You?
How do you define success?
What do you see as a successful outcome?
Is success for you the amount of money you make, the type of car you get to drive, or having the big house you’ve always dreamed of? Or is it more intangible like the amount of love you feel and experience on a daily basis?
Have you ever thought about what success really means to you, and if you have, does your current definition work for you?
What prompted me to redefine success in the first place was when I was reading “Career In Your Suitcase” a few years ago. Doing the exercises in the book as well as having the pleasure of being coached by one of the authors of the book, Colleen, opened my eyes to the fact that I was reacting to, rather than creating, my career and work life.
All these things came into my life at the right time: I’d been at a cross-roads in my work and career. I had a feeling about where I wanted to head next, but I felt a little lost and I didn’t know how to make the first steps towards it.
Then I came across this quote by Maya Angelou:
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
This quote was also one of the things that helped me turn things around in my life. Before I’d defined success more in terms of how much money I was making. Never about how much fun I was having, how fulfilled I was feeling. It was about the outer things, rather than my inner being and feelings.
Redefining success made a huge impact on me. Of course, I want to make and have money, but to be driven only by money was making me miserable. I needed to change it around. I needed to come back to my centre, to my core and re-align with who I am. That for me is now the ultimate success: how much of myself have I been today? Do I like myself, do I like what I do, and do I like how I do it?
Am I enjoying it? Does it make me feel good? Am I inspired? Am I fulfilled?
Am I making a difference?
All of these questions and more help me to stay true to myself and enable me to create the life that I want and love. It’s my guidance system.
What’s more, my guidance system is specific to me. My definition of success will not be the same as yours, because you and I have different values, wishes, desires, life experience and beliefs, for example. However, there is no right or wrong. There is what resonates with you and what doesn’t.
Personally, I’ve felt I‘ve needed to step away from defining success as how much money I make, or what car I drive, or what kind of house I live in. Those are all nice things to have, but do they bring sustained happiness?
And doesn’t that make happiness conditional?
I often talk about the “When I…” syndrome. “When I have a big house, I’ll be happy and successful.” Unfortunately, more often than not, when we do have that big house the happiness and success of it wears off pretty quickly and then we’re onto the next thing, we strive for more and more to fulfil this empty space inside. It’s the ego that’s leading the way, and the ego is never satisfied. The ego always wants more.
So turn it all around and decide first what your new definition of success will be. Take the time to figure it out. Explore it. Play with it. Know that is never set in stone! You may like to start with “small” successes, like feeling good even if people around you are being negative. Or finally making that difficult phone call you’ve been putting off and feeling good about that.
It’ll mean diving deep inside of yourself to find the answers. It can be scary, yes, but in my experience the clarity you get as a result outweighs the fear. Consider working with a coach who can help you, like I did when I worked with Colleen. He or she will be supportive, encouraging and there for you. You are not alone.
Can you share your definition of success with me? Is it working for you? If not, how can you start to tweak it so that it is more congruent with who you are?