Do you think of yourself as a successful person?
Maybe to answer this question you need to decide what success means for you – what does it look, sound and feel like? How will you know when you have ‘success’?
Defining success – what do you want?
There are many definitions of success and, I believe, no absolute definition. Success is personal and unique to each of us. One person may define success as having a six figure salary, another may say success is raising a healthy and happy family, another may feel it’s about being content with who you are, or what you already have.
Many people view success as a destination and so believe they’ll only be fully satisfied when they reach that place; achieve that goal. You’ll hear them say things like “I’ll feel successful when..” (e.g. turnover reaches $$$; I own my own property); “I’ll be happy when..” (e.g. I’m financially independent; I’m retired).
What could be the problem with these kinds of definitions of success?
What if…..their turnover never reaches that figure?....their plans for retirement get postponed for an extra 5 years….? There will always be challenges along the way to achieving our goals; unexpected events that can stall us or send us off course. If you never arrive at the destination, might that mean that you will never allow yourself to feel successful and perhaps then never feel totally fulfilled or satisfied? Maybe.
Enjoy the journey
I think it’s important we set and achieve meaningful and stretching goals in life – that we have a ‘destination’ to aim for - but also ensure we enjoy the journey along the way.
In my experience, some people have never considered what success means to them. If you don’t know what success ‘looks like’ how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Might you overlook your achievements and never give yourself credit for who you are now and what you’ve done so far?
Beware the person you become in pursuit of what you want
Some people live their life striving for, and measuring themselves against, someone else’s definition of success e.g. driving a BMW car, living in a single family home with an acre of land, being self-employed, being promoted to manager before the age of 30.
If these things genuinely are not aligned with what really matters to you, then beware. It’s possible you could spend a lot of time and energy pursuing goals that others perceive to be important and in the process lose sight of who you really are and what’s really important to you.
Understanding your values – what and who really matter to you – and using these as a guide when making important decisions, can help you set goals that are meaningful for you and then stay true to yourself as you work towards them. In turn this will build your self esteem and confidence, leading to greater fulfilment and peace of mind.
A new year is always a great time to take stock; to review where you’re at and where you’d like to be. Why not start with listing your values and defining what success means for you in 2013?
When you’ve done that, check your values list — are YOU at the top?
Hazel Morley is principal of Think Smart: Training and Coaching with Change in Mind. She can be contacted at email@example.com.