2 Steps to Defining Success

SuccessSuccess — the term, the place — means many things to many people. A certain degree of wealth or income, living in a particular neighborhood or city are on the material end of the scale. On the intangible end are things such as a position at work or a level of respect or notoriety in your industry.

If you only get one take-away from this, make it: you define what success is. If you let others define what makes you “a success,” you’ll ever be unfulfilled and wandering trying to meet others’ expectations for your life.

Define “success”

It’s not enough to define success in broad terms like, “I’ll be successful if I earn more money.” Those are the things of wishy-washy New Year’s resolutions that never get accomplished or don’t last long. Define success specifically, in writing, and tell a trusted friend and, if you have one, a mentor.

Several years ago, I wrote a guest post that changed the trajectory of my life in ways I could never have guessed at the time. The date: 6 years ago today. It was before I was a skilled writer with an English degree and over 1,000 posts to my name. It was raw, honest, and it caught the attention of a network of people who would later become my closest business allies, friends, and even a mentor or two.

Because of that post and the connections it created, I defined success for myself in 2006-2007 as earning enough that my wife no longer had to work for us to live a financially comfortable life. By that definition, I became successful at the end of January 2011.

 Update your definition of “success”

Congratulations are due if you’ve reached your definition of success! While there is something to be said for being satisfied with what you have and being present in the here and now, you must also not stagnate and stop growing. There’s a big difference between things of meaning and things of material worth only. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with wealth and stuff — just be mindful of why you strive for more.

Every 6 months, re-evaluate your definition of success and make or renew your goals to reach your current success. Some people prefer baby steps for their goals while others like to “go big or go home.” If you’re of the baby-step school, you’ll want to update your definition of success as you grow.

Regardless of which method you use to reach your ideal success status, it’s vital to look at yourself and your situation to see if life’s circumstances have changed your ideals. I can attest to my definition of success taking a 90-degree turn in May earlier this year. It’s amazing how things have a way of working together to change one’s perspective. If I had left off with my previous definition, I would have missed out on the joy and challenge of my current ideal of success.

Do you have any other suggestions or tips in the success topic? Feel free to share and ask in the comments.

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