When was the last time you paused to consider if you felt successful? Was it when you compared yourself to an old high-school classmate who brags about her every accomplishment all over social media? Was it at your college reunion when you felt compelled to scrutinize friends’ lifestyles for signs of opulence or influence?
Success is a challenging concept to define. For some it’s indicated through the accumulation of wealth. Others won’t believe they’re successful until they wield power over a group of people. Still other individuals won’t define themselves as having achieved success unless they’ve checked off all their personal and professional goals.
And since there’s no singular way of defining success, it sometimes seems impossible to determine if we’re getting any closer.
Create Your Own Definition
Success may be a highly personal concept, but that doesn’t mean it eludes definition. It’s crucial, in fact, to delineate for yourself how you perceive it if you ever hope to reach it.
Invest time considering how you view the notion of success. Create a customized definition that includes only experiences and achievements that are of value to you.
It may help to start by considering the variety of ways others define success. What motivates us may look different, but insights into what others value helps us better identify what we do and do not desire.
- Does a career that inspires awe in others play a role in your definition?
- Do you aspire to leave the world a better place than when you arrived?
- Does raising a family you’re proud of factor into your definition?
- Does success look like a life filled with public honors or accolades?
Once you narrow down what does and doesn’t motivate you, spend time determining precisely what you mean by phrases like “making the world a better place” or “raising a family I’m proud of,” so you’ll know when you’ve achieved the goal.
Once you’re clear on exactly how success will look when it arrives, it’s far easier to get to work achieving it on your own terms.
Scrutinize Your Life for Signs of Momentum
Once you have a specific goal in mind, it’s important to determine if you’re on track to nail those aspirations. There are three ways to step back, gain perspective and evaluate if you’re on the path to success on your own terms.
1. You’re Productive, Not Busy
A commonly held belief in today’s society is that being busy equates to being productive and results in accomplishment. It’s easy to buy into this notion (and frenzy) until you examine what you’re trying to achieve and know exactly how success would look and feel in your life.
When you’re busy, it’s often a result of being trapped in a cycle of focusing repeatedly on the same tasks, such as to-do list items like email, which are endless in nature and over which you wield little control.
Busy people remain stuck in reactive mode, focusing energy in all the wrong places. When you consciously choose to create success on your own terms, you appear less busy. You slow the frenetic pace of your life and channel energy toward only the work that matters to you.
For some, the “productive over busy” mentality takes the form of checking email only twice each day. For others, it means designating specific time slots for meetings and working solo. Find what clears the clutter from your schedule and helps you hone in on the goals you’ve created for yourself.
2. You Celebrate Other People’s Achievements
When you’re capable of celebrating someone else’s victory without feeling like it threatens your own, it’s an indication you’re firmly on your path to success. Hard work deserves applause!
Once you’ve defined success in your unique way and have wholly committed to its achievement, it becomes abundantly clear there’s room enough for all of us to succeed. You’re aware that one person’s victory never equates to another’s failure.
In addition, when you’ve chosen to pursue success on your own terms, you’re cognizant that through applauding other people’s accolades you tap into the power of their achievements to help inspire your own progress.
3. You Recognize Failure as Helpful
No one experiences success all of the time. It’s not realistic and, for the most part, wouldn’t be indicative of achieving anything of real value.
It’s only when you’re courageous enough to attempt something challenging that you open yourself to the potential of failure. In these humbling moments of embracing actions when failure may be inevitable, you learn the most about creating success.
Failure teaches you about the resilience required to maintain the drive toward your goals. It’s how you respond to barriers placed in your way that defines you and reveals if you’re en route to success. Once you’re comfortable with the fleeting nature of failure and able to acknowledge the myriad learning opportunities underneath, you’re undoubtedly on the way to achieving success on your own terms.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you know exactly how you define success? What does your definition look like? Did any of the questions help you redefine your goals? Have you committed to achieving success on your own terms? What do you find helps motivate you the most? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!