Every time I ask my coaching clients “How do you define success?” I get all sorts of interesting answers. What you're about to learn soon is, how you define success largely determines whether you feel successful or not, and what you should be considering when you define success.
A Fresh Perspective On How To Define Success
In a recent post titled “Do what you love and love what you do“, I asked whether you’re doing what you love and loving what you do.
In today's post, we’re going to expand on that initial topic a little, while looking at the concept of success from what most people would call, “a fresh perspective”.
But first let me explain why it’s super important to define “success” or “not success” from the perspective I’m about to reveal to you.
In more than a decade of coaching business owners and leaders from various countries, time and time again what has been a problem for so many has been, knowing whether to go after (achieve) more or not, and how to really enjoy the process of achieving.
Because most people suffer from those two issues, they fall into the trap of “working their asses off” to simply achieve more and make more money.
That of course, in most cases, leads to greater stress day after day, and that feeling of “it’s never enough”. Know what I'm talking about?
A Life Of “Enough”
Imagine what life for you would be like if you knew that you already had “enough”.
If you knew that you already had enough of everything, or if you knew you had already achieved the level of success you want, how differently would you live each day?
Would each day be filled with more smiles and laughter, or more stress and worry?
Are You A Success Yet?
Now, taking into account how you currently define success, ask yourself if you consider yourself “a success” or not at the current phase of your life.
If your answer is “yes”, why do you believe you’re successful?
If your answer is “no”, then why don’t you believe you're a success yet?
How Do You Measure Success?
Do you measure your level of success by your net worth, the amount of cash you have stashed away, the total valuation of all your assets, the number of cars or houses you have, or perhaps even the types and sizes of those things?
If that's how you define success, that’s completely “ok” obviously, but you should also ask if there’s more to a successful life than all those things, shouldn’t you?
Maybe for you, success also includes how happy your family is, and what you can provide them with the money you have.
Maybe, how successful you believe you are is dependent on how healthy you are.
Or perhaps, you measure your success by how successful you are in the relationships you have.
The Trap People Fall Into When They Measure Success
What is true is that, in this world of consumerism that we live in, it’s really easy to get sucked into the trap of acquiring more and more “stuff”, while believing that our “buying power” is the main determinant of whether we feel both significant and successful, isn’t it?
Have you ever fallen into that trap?
I know I have.
I’m not saying we should all stop measuring our level of success by adding up all the “stuff” we have. Definitely not.
But, the perspective I’d like to offer you to take on board and use in conjunction with all that is…
“Success Without Fulfillment Is The Ultimate Failure.”
Now, if the above perspective is true, then the obvious question everyone should ask themselves in order to determine whether they're successful or not is, “What fulfills me?”.
Better still, before even embarking on the journey of achieving your goals, you should be asking, “What would I need to achieve in order to feel I'm living a really fulfilled life?”
If you asked either one of those two questions, I guarantee it would save you from a ton of stress and frustration!
To qualify that statement, I'll share a real example with you.
Why It's So Important To Define Success More Holistically
Not too long ago, I was coaching a business leader whose goal was to raise his net worth to US$60 million. He had pretty decent reasons for why he wanted to do that, and he even had a plan for how to get there.
But the problem was, he was working himself into the ground trying to get there.
His health was falling apart, his relationship with his wife was just “surviving” at best, he wasn't being the dad he wanted to be to his child, and with each day that passed he was feeling more and more burnt out. (Apart from the US$60 million goal, know anyone like that personally?)
What's interesting was, he already had enough money stashed away to never have to work another day of his life.
But he was still adamant that he had to achieve that goal because that was what he believed he needed to be successful (to call himself a success and to be seen as a success in other people's eyes).
And, he getting himself more and more into a funk, and was finding it hard to get out of it!
It's really interesting how our beliefs can dictate how we live life isn't it?
Shifting How You Define Success
As I coached him, first, I told him to forget for a moment, what he believed about success.
Then I shifted his focus to feeling fulfilled instead of just successful.
Finally, I got him to list down all the “things”, “criteria” or “factors” that already fulfill him, or would fulfill him i.e. what makes him feel “filled up”, alive, and vibrant.
By the time he was done with that list, you won't believe how drastically his perception of success changed.
In fact, what was even more valuable from that exercise was, he had greater clarity into where he was already successful and where he was not, and that he could draw out a new game plan of how to experience success more holistically.
Feeling Successful Now Could Come From Making Just One Simple Change
I shared with him that often, the key to success is not in the big things.
And from that, one of simplest changes he made was to revise his goal from US$60 million to US$40 million.
He decided to do that because he finally understood that what determined whether he was successful or not, was not just more money and more “stuff”.
That one simple change alone, took the “weight of the world” of his shoulders, and allowed him to begin living a more fulfilling life.
He began to put aside more time to do the things that he loved, and began to love what he was doing (including the work on his business).
In summary, perhaps you'd like to take this on board: “You can have all the material success in the world, but if the life you're living is running you into the ground instead of building you and the others around you up, then what's the point?”
Comment below or write to me and share how you define success will change, or has already changed, because of this new awareness.