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Success or satisfaction?

Each person defines success in their own way. For some, success is measured in what they own or whom they know. For others, success is based on the experiences they have had and the people they have become. For most people, success is a very personal matter.

However, if we don’t properly define success for ourselves it can be a trap.

Do you really want the big house or the boat, or do you want to feel important and impress people?

Do you want the important job with the fancy title or do you want to make a difference in the industry and in people’s lives?

When you define success for yourself, make sure that what you want to achieve will also bring you satisfaction and will help others. After all, there’s no point in owning a big house if you have no one with whom to share it. And the important job that destroys your personal life may not bring you the lifestyle you want and in the end it may cut you off from the very people who you most want in your life.

Success may bring satisfaction, but satisfaction is more often what we truly want.

 

 

If you don’t define success for yourself, someone else will

If you want to reach a goal, you need to know where the goal is located, how to recognize it, what route you need to take to get there, and what obstacles you might encounter. It’s similar to planning a trip. In fact, it is a trip of sorts – a trip from where you are right now to where you want to be.

It always amazes me how little time and effort people are willing to put into planning. I know, it’s not sexy and certainly not fun to plan how to reach your goal, even if that goal is a romantic hideaway in Bali. It takes work. But guess what? Everything in your life has its value based on how hard you or someone else had to work to get it. What we get for nothing has very little value.

So the first step in becoming successful is defining success. What will it look like? How will you feel when you reach your goal? Where will you be? What will you be doing?

For me, the easiest way to put all the pieces together is to write a story that describes your success and the steps you took to reach your goal. Write this from the perspective of having already reached your goal. Here’s an example:

Sitting at the breakfast table, I look out the picture window of my house overlooking the Ocala National Forest. It seems hard to believe that only 10 years ago I was toiling away in the corporate world. It was a safe and comfortable life – or so I thought. With the recession of 2009-2012 everything changed. I had to reinvent myself. I started a small business helping people manage their time and soon the business started growing. After several years the business grew so much that I couldn’t manage it any longer, so I sold it to another company. Now I work from my beautiful house, writing reviews and blogging on whatever interests me.

I have found that if you write a story about what you want to happen, it’s much easier to define what your success will look like. And it’s important to have a very clear picture in your mind, as you will need that picture to inspire you when life gets hard.

So try this for yourself. Pick an area of your life, grab a latte and write out how your life will look after your reach your success goal.

Everyone wants to succeed

Another way of saying this is that people don’t like to fail. I know I don’t like it. Can’t imagine anyone does. But I’m smart enough to know that I have learned a great deal from my failures, even if I didn’t like the way things turned out. I have learned to “fail better.” But I enjoy success a lot more.

So if everyone wants to succeed in some area – or many areas of their life – why doesn’t this happen more often? Why don’t we hear daily about the victories that others are having?

In some cases this is because the victories are very personal and not easily shared. In other cases people often don’t see their accomplishments in a balanced way. They discount their achievements, especially when they compare them to the achievements of others.

But I believe the biggest reason that we don’t hear more success stories is that most of us have a hard time defining success. We let other people or outside circumstances choose our yardstick for us. And if we let someone else choose how success should look for us, I don’t see how we can ever be satisfied.

So for me the first step in moving toward success is to define what success will look like. If I don’t do this, how will I know if I succeeded?

For example, if I want to be successful in my career, I need to define for myself what my life will look like when I reach this goal. What will I be doing, and where will I be doing it? Will I be working with others or be on my own? Will I be leading or working under another person? And is this an end goal or a step on the way to something larger?

In my own life I made a deliberate choice many years ago to put family before career. And I have succeeded because I have met my goals of raising two very smart and highly motivated daughter who are now each very successfully building careers and lives of their own. My own career is not very exciting, and probably not going anywhere anytime soon. But I am successful. So in this case it was extremely important for me to define what success would look like when I reached my goal.

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