I often ask coaching clients “What is YOUR definition of success?”. When it comes to the definition we attach many different meanings to ‘success’ and, by default, the meaning of ‘failure’.
The dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, and the good or bad outcome of an undertaking”.
But who’s to set that aim or purpose and assess the outcome? In other words, how do YOU define and then measure your own success?
Since taking a sharp turn in my life, I have been questioning the definition of success and discovered the beauty of the versatility of success.
TYPES OF SUCCESS
Some evaluate their success against a list of things they want to or feel they should experience in life. Once I have all of these, I will feel successful. One item unticked from the list and the success story is wiped-out.
To others, success may be attached to just one main life goal.
As I thought about what success may represent in general, I identified at least six different types that people may relate to, at various degrees:
1. Material Success
Perhaps the most common of all, the success measured by material gains and possessions. The size of the house they live in or properties owned, the brand of their clothes and hand-bags, or the number of luxury motors in the garage. The list of material possessions could go on forever.
2. Financial Success
Financial success is a close relative to the material kind, but it is not the same. Some may aim for the latter at the expense of the former, accumulating debt to fulfil their material success. Others may go to length to reach a certain balance in the bank, sometimes even limiting life experiences and possessions, for fear of not reaching their financial goals.
3. Emotional Success
This type of success relates to the state of wellbeing, measured by the level of mental contentment and peace they feel in their lives, and for themselves and others. It may be measured for instance by the ability to maintain a stable positive mindset and a positive outlook to their day-to-day experiences of life.
4. Social Success
One may measure success by their social lifestyle, the quality and quantity of their social network or the position they hold in their career industry. The title on their business cards and the size of the team they manage. A few high-calibre friendships vs. a trillion followers on their social media accounts. A booked-up diary and the kind of activities of these bookings.
5. Physical Success
Then there’s the physical element. This may be connected to health status and physical fitness or body image too, and a combination of all of these. This type of success could also relate to particular achievements in sport, gaining a particular professional goal, or the completion of other personal challenges.
6. Relationship Success
Last but not least, success achieved through a relationship status. Differently to social success, this success refers specifically to your love relations. Finding your soulmate, staying happy single, or getting married.
MY KIND OF SUCCESS
For a while, my definition of success included a respected and growing career, a higher than average salary, a beautiful place to call home, a loving family and set of trusted friends, fitting comfortably in a size 8, a handsome and adventurous partner and being able to fly off on holiday whenever I could take time off work.
Essentially, a combination of all of the six types of successes listed above. And that’s okay.
I do still aspire to all of these elements in a way but it’s how I choose to feel success instead of failure in those areas that has made the biggest impact in my life.
Even failure has morphed into a form of success.
Since learning that I was being somewhat unoriginal and restrictive with my definition, and that I could set my personal life goals freely, things changed radically.
I decided to make success an individual affair. Stop following the masses and create my own meaning of it. A meaning that reflects who I am and not who I (used to) feel I should be.
I had a serious chat with myself and assessed what truly mattered to me. And that assessment is ongoing.
I soon realised I couldn’t define success until I uncovered my key values and passions. These became the key ingredients for my recipe for success. A recipe that I can change as I evolve.
These days, I measure my success by how positive and grateful I feel from the moment I awake in the morning to the moment I close my eyes at night. And in fact, by how well I sleep too!
Living successfully has taken on so many new definitions. It makes me wonder if I should actually drop the use of the word ‘success’ entirely.
I live successfully for instance when I live in the present moment, when I push my boundaries and know I have given my whole, when I feel loving and loved, when I maintain positive vibes and share it with others.
Success also means appreciating my every breath and each single heartbeat. It means being aligned to my truth and being true. It is being respectful towards myself and all living beings.
It’s having the courage to stay playful and curious forever and going for my dreams. Regardless of how crazy they may seem.
This way my success does not feel like an end goal or a continuous pursuit, but becomes a life companion. My daily drive and motivation.
Magically, with this approach I am feeling accomplished in all the types of success identified above.
GETTING CLEAR ON WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU
In my experience, getting clear on what success really meant to me helped me find day-to-day fulfilment and progress towards the bigger goals too.
Success doesn’t have to be fixed, but you can shape it and resize it as much as you like.
When tailor-made to suit you, success becomes a positive motivation rather than a stressful competition. The more your success is aligned to your truth and your values, the more likely you are to maintain a supportive and optimistic mindset.
And we know that motivation drives determination, practice and action needed to realise limitless visions. That vision simply needs to be your vision. Ideally not that of others, but for others.
Einstein once quoted “Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” To replace living for material gains with adding our unique contributions.
BUT HOW DO I DO THIS?
How do I find my values and how can I contribute?
I had to be honest and brutal with myself. Differentiate success driven by my ego and external factors, and dig deeper into the real reasons behind certain goals I set for myself.
I started dismissing anything cultivated by fear or judgement, need for validation or lack of self-love.
Instead, find success in everything that emanates zest for life, that makes you come alive. Smile. Create big goals and small ones too. Be creative and have fun with it.
What drives YOU every day?
Imagine you were told you will live the same kind of safe, comfortable day, every day for the rest of your life. What would that day look like to you?
Now, let’s stretch a little further. What’s that thing that you would miss? That extra element you would wish for, to make your day a little more special again?
A day you experience fulfilment of your own definition of success, look at yourself in the mirror and congratulate yourself with a big “yesss!”
That’s the thing I look for. To create a spark of success every single day. Please do get in touch here [GET IN TOUCH] if you’d like to chat about what success means to you.