and five ways to re-define them.
how you define success tells a lot about you. what motivates you. what triggers you. what guides you. so if you haven't spent the time, write down your definition and sit with the question of how you ended up with what you wrote. where did it come from. who gave it to you. is it yours. is it outdated. is it feasible. is it reasonable. is it valuable. is it centered around something beyond yourself or is it just selfish. these are just some thoughts to help you evaluate success.
would you say you are successful. how would you know. are you measuring it. is someone measuring it for you. when do you know if and when you have reached into the depths of it or the shallowness of it. wonder. just wonder.
i've spent a lot of time and led trainings with this very question in mind and sadly too many people are using definitions that aren't relevant or rooted on something they chose to root it to.
here are five reasons to re-define success.
success doesn't make you happy. it is short lived when you begin with a statement that sounds like: if i do this then i will be happy. but what if you don't get there. are you prolonging your happiness until the end. what happens in the in-between. what if there is emptiness at the end of the road and you never appreciated the path that got you to where you thought you wanted to be. when you think about success perhaps also think about how you'd like to feel and why you'd like to feel that way if and when you accomplish what you set out to accomplish.
things change. your definitions should, too. in one chapter or season of your life one thing will be more important over another. maybe over a lot of anothers. it might just be the only thing on your list. but life isn't stagnant and a lot of life happens out of your control even how you see the world can shift when you least expected it to shift. if you keep your same definition and aren't seeing the same results maybe the way you are looking at it needs altering. perhaps you are being successful and just because you aren't feeling or seeing it there is a lesson there being overlooked.
what you are chasing isn't really meaningful. maybe you are doing something just to do it. to say you are doing it. to prove that you can do it. but your heart isn't there. you are investing into something for someone else and your why is missing. your being is missing. the impact you could be making isn't being made because you haven't found a way or made a way to turn it into something helpful or useful or of consequence beyond the short term. meaningful success means learning and unlearning happened. growth happened. sharing happened. loving happened. and when that happens you are no longer chasing success. you are becoming something far more greater. you are becoming a light for others to see.
success is more valuable if you share it. community is a deep value. strong communities have the ability to come together due to a strong common goal that bonds them which means the individual )all individuals( are responsible to do their part. to do their share. to share the load. to share the work. to share the lessons. to share the losses. sharing is a commodity. it is like gold. its value only holds when the belief in it and the practice of it is solid. is secure. is held sacred. because you don't know who needs something if all you do is hoard what you have. when others benefit from what you do then the further everyone goes.
you'll stay for the journey instead of leaving when things get hard. if you can make the constant evaluation of your definitions of success a practice then you will experience less stress and anxiety over why things aren't going as you expect them to go. you will be able to look at how you are approaching things and analyze patterns around you and allow yourself to let go of things out of your control. you may not think you are experiencing success in one area but in fact you are experiencing success in the practice of re-defining success.
how to re-define success.
reflect on if what you are doing brings you joy. everything you do doesn't have to align with what feels good especially if it is part of something you don't enjoy but is part of the process. however if that part of the process doesn't get you to the bigger picture it is worth finding something that does. joys enrich your life. why not ensure that part of your definition includes joy. if you don't think you deserve joy in your life you do. you do.
explore the roots of your success. where does your current definition of success come from. has it changed over time. who taught you about what success means. are you on your path of success or on a path that isn't yours but you are on it because you feel obligated to. get to the core of your success and see if you can't go deeper. will your definition change tomorrow or next month or next year or in ten years. it may feel like you are steeped in something you can't get out of but the more digging you do it is possible to differentiate your roots from those of another and decide what to keep and what to cut loose.
push back. no one can tell you what your definition of success should mean or if it isn't acceptable enough. you know what is good for you and what is not. if you don't there are people in your life to help guide you. if everyone is saying the same thing about you then maybe there is some truth to it unless your vision is generations away from being understood and you are paving new territory new language that will catch fire soon enough. it is okay to push back and pose follow up questions. to why them. to why yourself. to be in constant dialogue even if you don't agree. it is healthy to ask yourself: is this mine. is this true.
look at your circle. inventory all the circles you spend time in. digitally. physically. emotionally. spiritually. and list out commonalities that you share and see how each circle defines success. collectively. individually. what does support look like there. can you be successful there. can you share your successes there. your people are your people. the ones you choose will make more fire with you to help blaze where you want to go. the ones unwilling to catch fire will be lost in the dust. sometimes you have to make your circle smaller.
practice patience. take deep breaths. you may want something so badly that if you don't see the results the second you do something then you'll quickly divert your attention from that to find something more gratifying. something more instant. something easier. patience + goals + action = success. you can't touch the horizon but it is there. it is there. look forward and you'll find yourself doing what you love in a place that you love with the people that you love.
success is what you make it beloved.