I’m sure I’m not the only one who spends hours thinking about what my life would look like if I won the lottery. I dream of exotic vacations and luxury.
I’m not likely to see these dreams come true because I rarely ever buy lottery tickets.
I like to dream. But I also like to plan. So, between times of dreaming of the exotic destination and luxury that lottery money would buy me, I also ask myself, “What does success look like?” Because my odds of achieving my dreams are much better if I create my own success rather than wait for the correct sequence of numbers to turn up.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”9yJOe” via=”yes” ]My odds of achieving my dreams are much better if I create my own success rather than wait for the correct sequence of numbers to turn up.[/ctt]
As I asked myself how I define success, I realized that my definition of success has changed as my life has changed. There was nothing wrong with my previous definitions of success, but once I achieved them, I dared to dream bigger. Success was good, but it led to me dream about “what else could be.”
[ctt template=”3″ link=”VE32e” via=”yes” ]How do you define success:[/ctt]
In college, my dream was to get a full-time job, own my own car, and have my own apartment. I wasn’t too fussy on the specifics of any of those things, and fortunately, they all came true within a month of graduation.
My first full-time job was as a receptionist. While I loved it, I knew it wasn’t my ultimate goal. It was good, and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t challenge me. I wanted more. So, I determined that my next level of success would include more prestige, more money, and more challenge.
I worked in a small real estate office in Ottawa, Canada, and the head office was in the big city of Toronto; about a four-hour drive from my small-town rural roots. That was where the company’s “ivory tower” was. I wanted to work and live in a cosmopolitan city. I applied for a job working for a senior VP, and I got it! My definition of success had expanded. I moved myself to Toronto, I got my own office, and I knew I was successful.
But it wasn’t long before I was challenging myself again. My definition of success continued to change, and my life kept getting better. Every time I adjusted my definition of what success looked like I was able to imagine it, see what I needed to do to get there, and take the appropriate action.
Maybe you aren’t living your definition of success right now. Sometimes when we stop dreaming, we stop growing and fail to see where we need to improve or where we need to get new skills. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut because it is comfortable. It is easy to treat your life like the lotto and say, “I’ll never get that.” Giving up before you even start will never work.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”s8H4h” via=”yes” ]What does success look like for you?[/ctt]
When my children were young, “success” was me being able to attend school trips with them. It was me being home for school vacations as well as family vacations. My success wasn’t determined as much by my paycheque but more by my flexibility; my ability to be where I wanted to be when I wanted to be there.
When I was a single mom, success meant being able to live comfortably and provide my children with a strong female role model. Since I didn’t have my boys all the time (they spent half their time with their father), I worked like mad when I didn’t have them. When they were with me, I was able to spend quality time. That is what success looked like.
Now my children are adults, married, and starting their own families. Success means different things yet again. Warren and I love to travel, so I am deliberately finding clients all over the world so that I can see as much of the world as possible. Success means that Warren can work with me instead of in a traditional 9 to 5 role, giving us the flexibility to do the things that my job allows us to do. Success enables us to get out of the cold Canadian winters.
On a smaller scale, success looks different each day. On a day-to-day scale, success looks like me getting eight hours of sleep, eating healthy (and staying away from sugar and snacking), spending quality time with my husband, and keeping myself mentally and physically healthy. Success means I feel positive during the day, I love what I’m doing, and I look forward to the next day.
Is every day a success? No, but I start every day planning for it to be a success.
These are my definitions of success, and they aren’t meant to be a prescription for your definition of success. Maybe your definition is a career that is stable, predictable, and comfortable. Perhaps you want to live only five minutes away from your office. It could be that you want a job that provides a pension or paid education for your children.
Don’t let others tell you what success looks like for you. Success is not necessarily about how much money you make. If you aren’t happy where you are, the money will never make you successful.
However, don’t make the mistake of not knowing what it looks like for you either! You need to ask yourself, “What does success look like?” and start seeing what you need to do to get there. Or, better yet, congratulate yourself on already being there.