Hello, hello, my beautiful friends! It’s great to be here with you. Today, let’s talk about success, and more specifically, defining success. As Maya Angelou once said,
I couldn’t agree more!
It’s important to recognize that you can’t define success for yourself without first liking yourself. When you like yourself, you will do things you enjoy. And when you do things you enjoy, you will find ways to do them that suit you best.
If you feel like you just can’t win or succeed, then this post is for you. I want to help you look at success through a different lens, one that you create for yourself. Here’s what I’ll be sharing with you in this post:
- Society’s definition of success
- The importance of defining success on your own terms
- Questions to help you define your success
- Overcoming fear and judgment
Society’s Definition of Success
Society’s definition of success often centers around wealth, fame, and material possessions. Reality TV shows, for example, tend to glorify these things. However, success means something different for each person, and it’s important to define it on your own terms. Trying to conform to society’s definition of success can be damaging to our mental health.
There was such a potent story a while ago about a billionaire who lost a ton of money and, sadly, he decided to take his own life. It’s tragic. The ironic part is that when they looked at his remaining bank account, he was still a multimillionaire.
If we are defining it towards money, if we’re putting it towards material possessions, if we’re putting it towards anything outside of ourselves, it’s so dangerous because there are things outside of ourselves that we just have absolutely no control over.
The Importance of Defining Success For Ourselves
Not everyone has the same privileges in life, and we all have different techniques to push ourselves to be successful. We need to define success on our own terms to avoid falling into the trap of chasing things outside of ourselves that we can’t control.
When we look at people who define success on their own terms, a lot of them end up being happy with what they have (including some who do have all the material things, and fame, etc.). The difference between those who have society’s definition of success and are happy vs those who aren’t is…how success was and is defined on the journey.
Defining Success for Yourself
So how does one exactly define success? There isn’t one specific answer. However, what I want to offer you is a framework for you to explore and find out for yourself: The five W’s.
Asking yourself questions that start with who, what, when, where, and why allows you to refine your version of success and get really dialed in. And you can always come back to this framework!
Here are some example questions to get started:
- Who am I when I’m alone?
- Who do I want to be when I’m around others?
- Who am I if I don’t identify with my current labels? (i.e. leader, singer, athlete, etc.)
- What values are important for me to represent?
- What do I want to create?
- What is the legacy I want to leave behind?
- When have I been the proudest of myself?
- When have I enjoyed myself the most?
- When did I feel stretched in a good way?
- Where do I want to be in five years?
- Where do I feel the most comfortable?
- Where can I experience my strengths?
- Why do I want to emulate [insert name here]?
- Why is [person/place/thing] special to me?
- Why do I care so much about ______?
When you really dig into your own personal values, your interests, your passions, your strengths, you discover where you’re already successful AND where you want to be even more successful.
If we’ve worked together, you’ve heard me talk about this as your internal filter, Creating this internal filter is imperative for us in order to filter out all the definitions, values, etc. that other people and society give us. When you are looking to set goals and take action, really define this internal filter and look at defining what success looks like for every single goal.
my definition of success
I was in a coaching session discussing time scarcity (e.g. I have so much to do and no time to get it all done) when my coach asked me what success would look like. I gave the societal definition–get all the things done as fast as I can so I can have more time/money/etc.
She gave me a look that said, “I don’t believe you” and asked, “What do you need right now to feel successful?” I responded without thinking, I just want to take a shower (my HSP Energy Type of Water was totally calling to me). As I started rambling trying to justify the answer I gave (because the time slot it was in on my calendar had already passed), these words came out of my mouth and surprised me:
my definition of success is giving myself what I need, when I need it.
When I put everything I was doing and wanted to do through that lens of success, time became completely irrelevant. And when I thought about it some more, I realized this hasn’t always been my version of success nor will it always be. When time became irrelevant, so did the need to have a cemented definition of success.
Overcoming Fear & Judgment
When we are defining success for ourselves on our own terms, in our own definitions, in our own words, it can come with judgment from other people. There’s a lot of fear that comes up around that judgment, which is totally okay, and it’s totally to be expected because, that’s basically just our primal brain being like, ‘yeah, we need this tribe to survive, and if we’re judged and we’re rejected, then we’re gonna die.’ That piece of your brain is useful. It is helpful, but we don’t need to listen to it all the time.
Sharing your definition of success can be scary, but it’s important to have clarity on what success looks like to you. Consider how you want to react to judgment and rejection, mentally rehearsing your response.
Think about what success looks like when sharing your definition of success. What does that look like to you? What does that sound like to you? Regardless of how anyone else reacts outside of you, what would a successful interaction be?
This prepares you for any negative reactions, and research shows it works! Remember, the only opinion that matters is yours, so define success in your own words and don’t let others define it for you.
I want to know what your takeaways are–leave a comment, email me, reach out to me on socials, listen and review the corresponding podcast episode. I really do want to connect with you. I love hearing from my sensitive people. Connection and community are really important to me personally.
If I had to pick three takeaways I really want you to walk away with from this episode, this is what they would be:
- Everyone will define success for you, but no one else can make you feel successful. It’s all you and that is good news.
- Defining success on your own terms will help create a roadmap you can always refer back to when you start to feel lost. Just because you define success, just because you have a beautiful plan and roadmap and all of that stuff, it doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna feel lost or doubtful or any of that ever again. But when you have those things mapped out, when you have it defined, when you have it written down, when you share it, you can always refer back to it to help bring you back into alignment.
- It’s okay to reevaluate and change your definition of success as you continue to evolve and you continue to remember deeper levels of who you are.
As I reflect back on those takeaways, there’s so much power in them. There’s so much power and empowerment in defining success for yourself. So remember, as you’re figuring out your own definition of success, know that it’s okay to adopt other pieces from other people. That’s totally okay. Just make sure it feels good to you. It feels true to you. Remember, go back to those questions, the the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. That is what is going to help you define your version of success.
You will find success if you define it on your own terms. You will not find success if you’re defining it on external things, external people, external definitions. Success comes from within and grows and shines outward, not the other way around.