We've all got our own definitions of what 'success' means. In this guest post, Success: A New Perspective from Linda Bucher, she shares how success was redefined for her, and how we can all benefit from the lessons she learned.
Exhausting is how I’d describe most of my adult life. It had become a never ending production of long hours spent climbing the corporate ladder in pursuit of the big house, nice car and six-figure salary. I worked hard. I impressed the right people. I accomplished. But the more I achieved those goals, the more exhausted I became and the less I felt like me. By my mid forties, I began to question just who I was and just what I was doing.
The reason for my exhaustion and discontent was that what I was striving for wasn’t actually success; it’s what I thought success should look like. I had spent the better part of 25 years chasing someone else’s definition of success. That definition was influenced by my upbringing, the picture of success portrayed in MTV Cribs and my perception of “successful” people in my field. In the midst of all of these influences, I had never even asked myself what I really wanted.
Chasing someone else’s definition of success is like trying to fit into someone else’s skin: it never quite fits and it ultimately feels repulsive. If you can relate, it’s a safe bet that the Who, What, Where, When, and How of your actions are not in alignment with who you are.
You might be chasing someone else’s definition of success if…
- Your life looks great on paper, but it doesn’t feel fun or rewarding
- Achieving the markers of success leaves you unfulfilled
- You feel tethered, tired and constrained
- Your days feel like a giant juggling act
- There’s no room in your life for you
- You long for clarity but all you experience is smoke and haze
- You crave inspired action but feel directionless and paralyzed
- You’re unable to use your knowledge and experience in rewarding
- There a rift between what you're willing to do and what you believe ways it's going to take to be successful.
Success: A New Perspective And A New Definition
Consider replacing the definition of success you’ve been operating under with a personal definition of success: one that reflects who you are. When you live by your definition of success, life and work take on a whole new feel. It’s so much easier to align your focus with your personal definition of success, so you’ll find yourself naturally motivated. When your actions are fueled with positive emotions, it’s easy to stay on track and cultivate success that much sooner. Below are 3 steps to creating your personal definition of success:
Step 1: Know This: You are at the center of your success
You are the writer, producer, director, stage manager and set designer of your life. You are also the star. Redefining success entails that you look deeply into who you are and what is really important to you. Why? Because when you wrap what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you’re doing it around who you are, success goes from concept to reality. Success is about you and for you and, when it’s defined with this in mind, it feels natural, joyful and is fun to maintain.
Step 2: Cast These 3 Staring Roles
On the stage of your successful life you’ll find three main players: Freedom, Fulfillment and Life Balance. Casting the right players in these roles is at the heart of redefining success for who you are and requires you to define these roles carefully.
At the heart of many of our desires is a yearning for freedom. Take a closer look at the types of freedoms that are important to you and list them. Then dive in further to discover what you’d do with each type of freedom you desire. Would you travel the world? Never set an alarm again? Take a walk every day? As you ponder your reasons for wanting these freedoms, you'll discover deeper motivations that you can use to begin building your personal definition of success.
Does your life feel like a juggling act? When your life is unbalanced, you're always in a state of shifting and longing because something is always getting shorted. Success, when it's personalized for who you are, includes a life balance that feels delicious to you, based in your deepest desires, not from your perceived roles and responsibilities. Honing in on the perfect life balance between your career, your relationships and yourself requires you to get rid of your beliefs about how much time and energy you're supposed to allot to different areas of your life and feel your way into proportions that make you feel buoyant. How would you ideally allot your precious capacity and energy?
Incorporating fulfillment into your definition of success gives meaning to what you're doing. Fulfillment incorporates concepts like personal values, purpose, and satisfaction and it’s entirely feelings-based. When designing a personal definition of success, I often ask my clients to associate fulfillment with their five senses as a starting point. What does fulfillment look, sound, feel, taste and smell like for you? What else brings you those sensations?
Step 3: Consider Money a Supporting Role
You were wondering where the money part comes in, weren’t you? Money should not have a starring role in your life, however it is an important supporting character for the freedom, life balance and fulfillment you desire. In casting the role of money for your life, there’s an important caveat: money and the things you purchase with it should never be used as a measuring stick.
This means that how much you make and what you own simply must not be considered a measure of your self-worth, your achievement, how you stack up against others, or your success. If money can’t be used as a measuring stick, how much money will you’ll need to support the freedom, life balance and fulfillment you desire? If money couldn’t be used as a measuring stick, what would you buy? Where would you live? What would you drive? Where would you vacation? What charities would you support? Calculate the amount of money you’ll require to support your personal definition of success. Take away the measuring stick and you might require less money than you thought.
It’s high time your definition of success reflects who you are and what you want. Why not give it a try? When you know what success truly looks like for you, it’s so much easier to recognize when you get there. Heck, you may be there already.
Linda Bucher is a Master Certified Life Coach and Coach Mentor who helps new and emerging coaches feel clear, confident, and competent so you can build the coaching practice of your dreams. Linda offers free Secrets Training for new and emerging coaches, 1-hour Clarity Sessions on the house, and the Confident Coach Group Mentorship Program to help you become the clear, confident, client attracting coach you thought you’d be by now. Visit Linda at LindaBucher.com