Merriam Webster defines success as a “favorable or desired result”, but it doesn’t go into how we get there or how it's measured.
For many of us, success has been measured by the possessions we own, the amount of money we make, and/or the title on our business card. But what happens when we reach “perceived” success and yet we still haven’t achieved happiness??
Let me tell you... it can be a hard pill to swallow.
For so long my definition of success was measured by my career and job title. From a very young age, it was instilled that I needed to go to college, get an education and make enough money to support myself without relying on a man. I remember vividly my Mom and Grandma having a discussion when I was around 7 years old. My Grandma was saying that I would need to find a rich husband to support me because even at 7 years old I loved nice things (go figure). My mom was adamant that no, I did not need to find a rich husband, because I would be the one to make enough money to buy those nice things for myself. I am grateful that my mom instilled this in me. I do financially support myself, and my relationships with men have always been fiscally balanced. (Emotionally balanced is another story - if you want to read more about that, check out my blog post about Changing Your Mindset). Despite fulfilling what I thought was success, I always felt that there was something missing from the equation. I realized it was because this was my mom’s definition of success and defined by her experiences, not my own.
Many, if not all of us, shape our definition for success based on what is instilled by our parents, what we take away from our peer groups, and also society as a whole. We have narrowly defined success as having money and/or power. We look at other people and see what they have and compare it to what “I” don’t have and feel less successful. What I have learned is that using what others deem as successful as a marker for your own success does not create a happy life.
So I challenge you to look at success differently.
Look at it from a viewpoint of what YOU value. Starting from a place of what values you hold and which values are most important to you makes it so much easier to define what success is for you. Once you have this guide, you can start to set goals that align with your personal (you don’t have to share this with the world) values and definition of success. And ultimately live a life you want to lead and are happy with.
Doing all of this can be a daunting task and takes time and effort. It’s not something that you just wake up knowing (and even if you do know - it can be hard to put it into action in your life). You have to do the work and put effort into figuring out what your core values are and from there set your definition for success. In 2012, I quit my spa director job to pursue other interests. I was happy-ish but knew I wanted something else. I thought I had a plan and knew what I wanted. But in all my planning I never did the work to determine my core values and set my own definition for success. So, as you can imagine I ended up back at the helm of another spa. While these jobs were good jobs, they were not fulfilling nor fitting into my value system.
My top value is freedom. When I looked at my job objectively, I felt successful from the definition of making a living that could cover expenses (and buy those nice things), but I was not happy or satisfied. And I felt stressed and anxious all the time. When I started looking at what I valued and realized at the top of the list was freedom, it made more sense why I was feeling dissatisfied. I did not feel free - free with my schedule and time, free with my decision making, AND I was always connected by my cell phone...it was like a leash. I was working for someone and creating a successful business for them. When I finally quit my job to pursue my current path as an entrepreneur, I found the freedom that I craved. While I still have stress, it is stress that comes from just being an adult, not being miserable. (Check out how I manage stress, read my blog post about Practicing Mindfulness.)
The beauty of life is that we are all different and what makes me happy is not going to make you happy and vice versa. However, sometimes we get caught in the loop of comparing ourselves to each other and striving for what someone else has deemed as success. The sad truth is that even if you achieve that version, you probably won’t be happy (and with Social Media these days who even knows if they truly are).
In the work I do with others as a success coach, I get to support people in determining what their values are and set them on a path to defining success for themselves. Subscribe below to receive a FREE worksheet to discover your Core Values.
To start the journey of discovering what success is for you and do the work to achieve it EMAIL ME and set up your free discovery call. I would love to help you redefine success.