Redefine Success to Clarify Your Time Choices and Refresh Your Sense of Self

Success Heart Awaken

Let your heart define your success.

Success is a concept that we generally think we understand — right up until we sit down and attempt to define it for ourselves.

Then it becomes a more complicated idea.

It’s complex because there are so many different factors that play into it: family and cultural influences, natural inclinations, good friends and teachers who’ve inspired us, to name a few.

Maybe you’ve thought about it a lot, or maybe you haven’t really reflected on it at all.

As you look ahead, what messages about success hold sway with you?

As you age, do you find yourself looking back at your life and asking yourself whether you were successful? How do you feel about your answer?

Try to discover
The road to success
And you’ll seek but never find,
But blaze your own path
And the road to success
Will trail right behind.
~Robert Brault

Whether you’re looking back or looking ahead, how you define success makes all the difference in the world. That’s because it has such a fundamental impact, both on how you make choices about your time AND on how you feel about yourself and your life.

Success according to the dictionary…

The Merriam-Webster On-Line Dictionary offers the following three definitions of this word:

1. The fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame;

2. The correct or desired result of an attempt;

3. Someone or something that is successful; a person or thing that succeeds.

These three definitions offer, in a nutshell, the three challenges that the concept of success presents.

Breaking it all down…

#1 External Measures:

The first definition gives you what is probably the most commonly-held view. By this definition, success can be measured or manifested by attainments that are culturally valued.

So often, your particular idea of success is handed down from parent to child and from generation to generation. It becomes part of your psyche; you accept and act on it as if it were fact.

The important thing, when external measures are in play, is not how you feel about your attainments in your heart-of-hearts. No, the important thing is how others view and measure your accomplishments.

Have you achieved what your family and culture believe you should achieve? That’s the question that guides you under this definition.

#2 Opening the Door to Self-Reference:

Next, success is described as “The … desired result of an attempt.” This is something that you define for yourself.

This second definition of success tends to put the power back in your hands.

You decide what to attempt and what your desired result will be. Maybe you still choose fame or wealth as an outcome to strive for. But there has been a profound shift in how you come to that choice. You are in charge.

What I like best about this definition is the flexibility it affords in relation to scale. “Success” needn’t be a huge goal whose attainment is decades away. Really, success is as large or small as you make it. This opens up all kinds of possibilities when it comes to finding ways to maintain energy and motivation over the long haul.

Success doesn’t have to be something that you strive for but is somehow always just out of reach. You have the power to decide.

And last, but definitely not least…

#3 Claiming Your Power to Define YourSELF:

The third prong of Webster’s definition is the one which at once causes the most pain and offers the most possibility for empowered freedom.

To refresh your memory, here’s how it describes success, “Someone or something that is successful; a person or thing that succeeds.”

This is where the idea of success becomes terribly damaging and debilitating – when it gets mixed up with your personhood – your humanity. If you are celebrated for your successes, then what are you when you don’t succeed? What are you when you retire and are no longer doing the thing that you were successful at?

Are you a failure? Must there be a flip side to success?

I’m excited to be exploring these questions with you, as their answers have such an impact on how we all choose to invest our time and how we reflect on our lives and ourselves.

And here’s more help for you…

This is especially important if you are assessing your ‘success’ and measuring yourself harshly:  My Voices Package includes the popular Exercise and Guide Book, “These Critical Voices Are Driving Me Crazy!”

The Package gives you proven exercises, checklists, and tips with step-by-step support to take back your power and quiet the self-criticism that saps your confidence, your energy, and your time.

Click this link to learn more.

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