Success seems to be something everyone is striving for. But what is it really?
For me, the answer is “it depends.”
I believe it should be different for each individual depending on their values and what is most important to them.
However, more often than not, we are striving for someone else’s definition of success, not our own.
Maybe it’s our parents view of success, our friends, or society’s view. More often than not it is a combination of all those things and more besides. In order to be seen as successful we focus on what is widely accepted as conventional and traditional definitions of success and strive for that.
However, here is the problem with that – you are living someone elses idea of a successful life based on their values and what they believe is most important, not your’s. And that can lead to living a life that isn’t fulfilling and meaningful to you. It can mean sacrificing what is most important to you in order to be classed as successful by other people.
The personal cost of doing that is high. Here is a personal example:
I spent 14 years in the corporate world striving to be “successful”. I was paid well, had a nice car, fancy holidays, could buy what I wanted – I was successful! Everyone told me I had done well for myself (I hate that phrase!).
But if I was so damn successful, why was I so damn miserable, unfulfilled and not enjoying life?
It was because I was chasing other peoples’ definition of success. To have all those things other people judged as successful I had to sell my soul, compromise on my values (huge mistake!) and sacrifice how I really wanted life to be. What was most important to me suffered.
In 2001 I decided enough was enough. I left the corporate world to design life and work on my own terms based on my values, my own definition of success and what was most important to me and my husband. Since then my life and work has transformed into something far more meaningful and fulfilling.
So, if you want to achieve real success, here is my suggestion…..STOP! Before you go any further, just take the time to consider this:
Whose definition of success are you living by?
If it isn’t one you have carved out for yourself based on your values and what is most important to you, you are living someone else’s life. You are risking the life you really want. And that is a hell of a gamble to take with your one and only life.
Create your own definition of success based on your values and the life you really want to live. Build every area of your life around that.
Here’s a way to get started:
- Imagine you are at your 100th birthday party. What do you want to be able to say about your life, work, family, relationships etc?
- Next, think about what you want the important people in your life to stand up and say about you e.g. your kids, your spouse/partner, friends, colleagues etc.
- Get clear on what your highest values are that you most want to build your life around.
- Take what comes up from all those things and build this into your definition of success for all areas of your life.
- Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it every day.
- Start looking for steps you can take to start creating change and to design the life you really want.
Measure yourself only by your definition of success. Once you start this you will never go back because you will be on the path to creating a fulfilling and meaningful life on your terms, not someone else’s.
A word of warning. Beware the “success stealers”. They are everywhere. They want you to live their definition of success. Keep focussed on your own definition of success. The rewards are high.
I would love to hear your experiences and views on this topic. Share them in the comments section below.