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What is your definition of success? Before you can achieve success, you need to define what success means to you. Unless you have a clear vision of what success is to you, you cannot work towards it. Success means different things to different people. For some, monetary reward is a measure of success. Yet others have multiple definition of success.
1. The Different Areas
They measure it across a few areas. It can be career, health, spiritual, emotional, time or financial. As an example, one can be successful in one’s career but not emotionally. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive – so you can add areas that are relevant to you.
To find your own definition of success you need to dig deep within yourself and question your values in life. What are your strengths andweaknesses? What are the things that are important to you? By answering these questions you can then come closer to your own definition of success. Be aware that this can be a long process. You may not get the answers so quickly. But it is alright. Define your measure of success, one at a time. Let’s take your career as an example. What would your definition of success be for your career? To make the managerial level by a specified time? Then dig deep to see what are your own strengths and weaknesses. Which would help you achieve it. Which of your weakness is a barrier, and does it go against your values? For me, I value time with my family. However, my work requires me to work late nights and long hours. I will need to adjust my own definition of success. Which would take priority?
2. It Is A Journey
When defining your success, remember this important thing. Success is a journey. It has multiple peaks and not one ultimate pinnacle. One success builds on another. Setbacks and mistake will also help you build success. At different periods of your life, success is defined differently. In our career, at a more junior level, your success can be defined by exceeding your job requirements or getting a promotion. Or success can be defined in a few respects. They can be:
1. Your relationship with your boss;
2. Your relationship with your peers;
3. Your dealing with other departments; and
4. Your learning curve.
You may add other areas as you move up the corporate ladder. One of my definitions of success in my career at this point – is the number of staff I mentor to higher levels within my industry. When they achieve a certain level of skills and knowledge and are respected by clients, business partners and industry peers – I have achieved some amount of success as far as my career is concerned.
Therapists Spill: My Definition of Success
By MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S.
In the fall, clinician Joyce Marter and her husband hosted their friends for a dinner party at their Chicago home. Among the couples — all in their 40s with school-aged kids — conversation turned to the adventures of parenting and the tricky stage of adolescence. This sparked a dialogue about how they gauge success. Marter’s knee-jerk reaction was to say that success excludes dicey circumstances such as driving under the influence or dropping out of school. “Thankfully, I quickly regrouped from this position of fear-based and judgmental thinking and realized I do not truly believe any of those experiences or other life challenges mean somebody has failed or is not successful,” she said. Hardships make us human and give us the opportunity to grow, she said. None of us is perfect or remains unscathed in life. Marter’s guests offered myriad definitions, everything from education to prosperity to resiliency to health to happiness. So what is success? What does being a success look like? Below, Marter and other clinicians spill their views on success.
According to Marter, also owner of the counseling practice Urban Balance, success is authenticity and mindfulness. Success is to live life openly, authentically, and lovingly in a way that is aligned with the highest good of self and others. Furthermore, when one is mindfully rooted in the present moment and engaged in relationships and work that promote a loving growth of human consciousness, one is joyous and prosperous. And so, this is my wish for myself, my children and for all humankind. Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and postpartummental health expert, summarized success in three words: faith, love and joy. To be successful in my work means that I am able to touch others’ lives, to help them know they are not alone, and to impart some bit of joy or wisdom that will leave them better than before. To be successful in my family means to love — to listen, to say I’m sorry when I’m wrong, to encourage, uplift, and to always strive to give the best of my time, talents, and heart.
To be successful as a human being means to continually examine myself, my motives, and my works; to connect spiritually, listen to what my Creator has in mind for me, and trust the process — to be open to learning and improving, and willing to share myself and serve gladly. I guess overall, for me, success = faith, love, and joy (my three-word motto) — striving to do and be my personal best in work, family, and as a human being, forgiving myself when I’m not, picking myself back up, and diligently pressing forward again. For Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression, success lies in the everyday, in the journey from setting a goal to realizing it. For me, success is when I set a realistic goal, enjoy the journey as it unfolds and dwell in the momentary satisfaction when it all comes together.
From cooking a new recipe, to learning a new yoga pose or taking a challenge that stretches my comfort zone, it’s the entire experience that offers me a sense of well-being. Success can be found in little things and big things. The key is to enjoy the ride once you set out on your material or existential destination. Ryan Howes, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the blog “In Therapy,” also prefers to focus on the flight, instead of the landing. I try (really, really try!) to view life as a journey rather than a series of goals to be attained. I always feel less stressed and better able to focus on today when I’m in that mindset. With that framework, I try to view success as something to which I aspire rather than a goal with a finish line. For me, success is achieving a healthy balance between the most important areas of my life.
These include family and social relationships, occupational pursuits, hobbies, diet, exercise, rest, my spiritual life, and the continued pursuit of self-understanding. I don’t think I’ve achieved this balance yet, as I only seem to maintain focus on one or two areas at a time. I may never find a way to keep all these plates spinning at once, but I will try for the rest of my life! Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., a psychotherapist, author and teacher, described success as a triumph over trials and fear. Success is overcoming challenges internal and external that at one time felt impossible or overbearing but with hard work and discipline I was able to rise above the fear or anxiety. For most people success is a shifting concept, which transforms over time. It’s been for John Duffy, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens. Today, his view includes being of service to others and being satisfied with his life.
My definition of success has shifted greatly over the years. I used to think I had to accomplish something that others deemed “great” in order to consider myself successful. Today, I find success in happiness, kindness, and helpfulness. I find success in loving, connected, available relationships, in my family and elsewhere in my life, including my relationship with myself. In order to feel fully successful, I feel I need to continue to find new ways to reach out to others and give of myself. Finally, I don’t think I could ever feel successful without a degree of happiness, contentment and humor. Success has many faces. The definition just depends on who you ask. And that’s the magic of success: You get to figure out what it looks like for you.
Subject: Mentoring tips on definition of success
In the next message to the electronic community I will ask participants how they define “success” for themselves. Here are examples of how this question was answered by a group of successful teens and adults with disabilities. These responses might provide some inspiration as you interact with the teens in our community. To me, having a successful life is being able to do things independently for myself and not always have someone there to do things for me. It’s achieving my goals on my own terms and at my own pace. (high school student with a mobility impairment) Success is a relative term. If you achieve what you want to and are happy, then I think that is success. It could be applied to life in general or to individual tasks in life. (college student with a mobility impairment) My definition of success is achieving personal goals, whatever they may be. Some goals are considered small by some people and enormous by others.
What matters is that they are personal; each individual has his/her own formula for personal success. (college student who is deaf) I remember what my high school voice teacher told the class as we prepared for our senior solo. She said, “Success comes in CANS, and failure comes in CAN’TS.” (speech language pathologist who is blind) Succeeding is accomplishing my dreams. However slowly I am moving toward that, to some degree I am succeeding. (high school student who is blind) Even though you might not have obtained that set goal, you are successful if you tried your best. (college student with a brain injury) To me, success is being able to do whatever it takes to lead a productive life. (young person who is blind) Success? That’s an easy one. BE HAPPY. (high school student with a learning disability)
What’s Your Definition of Success?
Success is a tricky sucker to define, isn’t it? Society as a whole tends to judge success by status and material wealth, but I think we both know that’s utter bollocks. I’ve worked with some fabulously wealthy yet unhappy people and you cannot ever really define an unhappy person as a successful one.
My Definition Of Success
If asked me for my definition of success it would simply have been, “somebody who is happy”. As happiness is at the top of everybody’s wish list, then by default it must define an element of success when an individual achieves it. Last week I was working through the core values process with client, Courtney Townley. One of the most crucial elements of a value elicitation is understanding what the client means by the words they give me. Too many values are open to interpretation and may mean different things to different people.
So to presume that just because I think success equals happiness that other people must think the same is arrogant and stupid, which isn’t a good combination for a Life Coach. One of Courtney’s values was unsurprisingly enough ‘success’. I asked her what she meant by the word and she was really struggling to come up with an answer. We did the values exercise anyway, but I asked her to think about what success meant to her and to e-mail me the answer so I could get a better understanding of what we were aiming for. Her response was awesome and makes my job very worthwhile. I immediately asked her if I could include it in a blog post and she graciously agreed.
Courtney’s Definition Of Success
“Tim, You probably thought I forgot my homework assignment? I didn’t. I chewed on the question all week: ”what does success mean to me?” I wrestled with the question a lot, found it intriguing and much more complex than I initially though it would be. First, I answered the question that success to me is living a balanced life full of happiness, but as I dug deeper I didn’t like that answer so much for two reasons. 1. I do believe that happiness is ultimately a choice regardless of the situation. 2. Some of the most rewarding/successful experiences of my life happened at a time when my life was completely unbalanced. So I chewed and chewed some more. Finally I was able to digest this better: I define success as listening to that subtle voice within, what I perceive to be my truth talking, and obeying by saying YES… despite the sacrifice, hard work or difficulty that may result. I feel most successful when I honor my authenticity (which is probably why is it one of my top values).
On the other hand, I feel most unsuccessful when I am a slave to someone else’s agenda or working to build someone else’s dream rather than my own…which is probably why I have been self-employed for the past 8 years. I feel most successful when I am honest about who I am (the good, the bad and the ugly)….talented and powerful and at the same time fearful and imperfect, and charging forward without getting too caught up in any one characteristic of myself, and without being too attached to the outcome of what I set out to do. I do it because my heart told me to do it, I don’t do it because I am certain of where it will lead me, which is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.
You said to me last week that everyone has fear, but because some people have confronted their fear more often, it seems that it is more natural for them to move into action without getting paralyzed by the fear. That was a huge “Ah-Ha” moment for me…..success is making a HABIT out of acknowledging the fear and resistance, but moving forward despite it. Success is saying YES to my journey, YES to my life’s adventure, YES to my heart’s song and knowing full well that does not mean it will always be comfortable, balanced, easy or pain free, but I do know it will be RICH and REWARDING and SIGNIFICANT beyond measure for me. I know if it is all of those things for me, my truth will also touch others, which will build even more success! To feel successful I know I need (based an my history of success) to dig both feet in deeply to my endeavors, be fully committed to my choices and finish what I start. Hope that gives you a little insight:)
Is she kidding me? It gave me a huge amount of insight into what makes Courtney tick. It’s one of the most important answers that you can figure out. Right now. How do you personally define success?
Take into account all of your current responsibilities, your strengths, your trials, your season of life and your dreams… Whether it is defining your success as a parent or a business owner or anything in-between, I think we could avoid so much heartache, disappointment, sense of failure and the chronic epidemic of comparisons if we realistically answered this one question for ourselves.