If you ask different people to define “success”, they will give answers about making money, being viewed as successful in their career or business – which might be about being respected by peers or by the community at large – or they might talk about possessions, such as a nice home or car.
Those are typical answers you would hear. Those are some of the prevalent generalized notions about success. But you will notice that they come from the view of outside judgment about others.
I would argue that you really shouldn’t be too concerned about what others think about you when it comes to “success” – except the more you hear opinions that you are a great person, fun to be around, are talented, have a good character, and that you are generous, liked, or even better, loved – the more positive it gets. Those are all indicators of true success.
The measure of achievement or quality of goodness that feel about yourself and satisfaction you have in how you live and enjoy your life, and the sufficiency you feel in having enough of the right things, including money and happiness, are the things that should be important to you. And those are the kinds of things by which you should judge your personal success.
You should also think about your purpose and how it provides direction for your thoughts of success and what those mean to those you would be of service to. Remember that much of your success will likely come from your being of service in the fulfillment of your purpose.
But you do need to get clear about what success means to you. For some people, it’s all about making money. For others it’s all about accomplishment. But happiness and relationships may be what are most important to you, with financial gains being important but secondary. Or you may most value personal growth, self-esteem, and self-confidence. When you know what you most value, you can organize your life around that and act accordingly.
Now in defining what success means to you, it might be helpful to sit down with pencil and paper (or with Google Docs on your laptop or tablet) and list the 5-10 most important things to you for your personal success. Things like:
- Enough money
- Or X million dollars in the bank
- Having lots more (10 times the) fun in your life
- Love relationship with the right person
- Serving others by aligning with your purpose and doing _______________ for them
- A happy family, with children raised to be competent and happy people
- Freedom to have more time doing ______________
- Freedom to work for yourself (if that’s right for you) doing ______________
- Or instead it might be the perfect job doing __________________ for a great company
- Personal growth and self esteem
- Having written a book about _____________
- And the book being a best seller! (which, of course, makes it harder to do)
- Better health measured in benefits or goals (run in a marathon, dance like a teenager again, walk a mile without stopping and with no pain, etc.)
Your list can certainly include material/financial things as well, such as a new car, debts paid off, or a new house in X neighborhood. But if you really stop and think about it, your personal happiness should be at the top of the list.
And you should think about what happiness feels like to you and what makes you happy. But don’t put conditions on your happiness – that you have to have some specific thing before you can be happy. NEVER postpone happiness and never make it hard to get. Why wouldn’t you want to be happy all of the time?
Once you have a list of success goals, put them in ranked order, and at the top should be the goal that’s absolutely the most important to you. Write down why it’s the most important thing to you. Spend time thinking about why each goal is important to you. Usually your goal should be an enabler of things you can do (travel), or how you want to feel (energized), or having the security that it gives you, etc.
Try to keep the list down to the top 5-10 things. But the top 5 may be more beneficial in the long run. Five things you can think about fairly easily and often. It’s much harder to remember a list of 10 things.
Then on a regular basis, envision yourself having accomplished each of those goals. Feel the feelings you will feel when each goal is achieved. When you can do that easily and often, you will have defined what success means to you. Congratulations!