How is Success Defined?
SUCCESS: You see it on motivational posters, hear it tossed around business meetings and coaching sessions, and read it in countless books.
But what the heck does it mean?!?
Here’s the tricky thing. You can go with the dictionary definition (the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame – according to Merriam-Webster), but that doesn’t answer the question. That’s because success is different for everyone, and if that isn’t confusing enough, it changes throughout our lives.
If you ask two millionaire CEO’s what success means to them, one might say “making a billion dollars,” while the other might answer “building schools in Africa.” If you ask an entrepreneur what success means, they might tell you “quitting my day job” or “making my first sales call,” and if you ask a new mom what success means to her, she might say “getting a shower this week.”
Let’s throw Merriam-Webster’s definition out the window (wave goodbye) and use our own, flexible definition. Success means achieving your goals.
Success isn’t a universal concept with a fixed end point, so to achieve success in your life, you must first determine what it means to you. Here’s where your values come into play. What do you want most out of life? Do you want to make money? Spend time with your family? Be a philanthropist? Help others? Become a household name? Create art? This answer is unique to you and shouldn’t carry the judgment or desires of someone else.
Determining your priorities will help you create your personal definition of success. Here’s a quick exercise: Close your eyes and picture your perfect life. What do you see, smell, and feel? Who are the people around you?
If you didn’t picture yourself diving into a vault full of gold coins (a la Scrooge McDuck), chances are your highest priority isn’t making money. If you pictured yourself surrounded by loved ones, but currently you spend 90 hours a week at the office trying to amass your pool full of gold, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your definition of success.
Also keep in mind that we’re living in a state of constant flux. We’re growing, maturing (well some of us are), and setting our sights on bigger and better things. If you ask the same person to define success at different stages of their lives, you are going to get different answers. It’s important to check in with yourself every so often and make sure that what you’re working towards, how you define success, is still what you want. There is nothing worse than achieving your “success” and then realizing it’s not what you wanted in the first place.
Gone are the days when “Success” automatically means working your way up a corporate ladder, having 2.5 children (I never did understand how you could have half a kid), or driving the fancy car and living in the fancy house. Success is a very personal and individualized concept. Do some soul searching (either alone or with a coach or mastermind group). Determine what you truly want out of life. Set your goals, set your strategy, and become a success!