How to Achieve Success on Your Own Terms
If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, then it is not success at all. ~Anna Quindlen
Tick tock … the year is racing to a close and at some point – maybe once the dust has settled on holiday shopping – our thoughts will naturally turn to goals for the New Year.
While it’s true that there’s something encouraging and hopeful about starting a fresh calendar for a New Year, I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.
For one thing, way too many resolutions end up looking a lot more like “shoulds” than any meaningful life goals. For example, you resolve to lose weight, start exercising (again), quit smoking, go back to school, start your own business … because you really should, which means your heart may or may not really be into making the all-out effort required to achieve your goal.
But another significant reason we falter on achieving resolutions may surprise you. Many people never take the time to clearly define what successful achievement of their goals will look like.
If you think about it, that’s like trying to hit a moving target!
Challenge yourself this year to take the time to define your success …
Without taking the time to clearly define what your success will look like as you strive to achieve your various goals, it is all too easy to end up wasting a big chunk of your precious life striving to accomplish things that, in the end, don’t matter that much to you; may be completely out of alignment with your values, and ultimately leave you feeling unhappy and singing that sad tune “is this all there is?”
Success is a highly subjective term.
Whether formally defined or not, we each have our own version of what success will look and feel like for the various of the areas of our life – marriage, health, career, family life, and even individual goals. For example, for one person a successful career equals good pay, benefits and a pension plan. To another, it’s recognition, incentives and frequent praise, or attaining some sort of distinction in their chosen career path.
And yes, for some, the definition of success is having a LOT of money and the freedom they imagine it will buy to do whatever they want. For most people this qualifies more as a wishful fantasy than any meaningful purpose in life, but let’s run with this story a moment just to illustrate the types of questions that need to be asked in order to begin defining what success for this goal might look like.
What will you do to earn all this money? What skills and resources will you need to acquire in order to make this happen? How long will it take to acquire the money and exactly how much money must you have in order for you to feel you’ve achieved your success? What will you do to maintain quality interpersonal relationships with family and friends as you strive to achieve this great wealth? What are the kinds of things you want to do with your life once you have the freedom to do them? And maybe the most important question, once you’ve got all this money, how do you plan to remove yourself from money making activities in order to achieve the freedom to do whatever you want?
An example that might be more familiar.
Let’s say you have been busy growing your career, working long hours and most weekends. You’ve recently become aware of just how unattached you have grown from the lives of your family, especially your children, and you’ve decided your goal for the New Year will be to reverse that disturbing trend while your children are still young enough to care. The first step in that direction might be to dedicate weekends to quality family time.
To clearly define what success will look like for this goal, you’ll need to answer questions such as the following:
What tasks or commitments will you have to eliminate, rearrange or delegate in order to make your time available? Some or all of your family members will have their own interests and activities, so how will you work with them to gain their support to clear their schedules in order to fit in with your plans to spend time together? What kinds of activities and outings will qualify as “quality?” Can you clearly describe what quality time with your family will look like, and what will need to happen in order for you to consider this intention a success?
You get the idea.
Let’s take a look at a few challenges you might expect to encounter achieving success with this initiative.
- Others in the family may not be willing to give up their activities or commitments.
- There could be times when you are required to work on the weekend.
- After a few weeks of “togetherness” family members may lose interest, or begin to get on each other’s nerves.
- The effort required to manage family weekends could begin to wear on you over time, leaving you wondering why you ever thought this was a good idea.
There are valuable lessons to be learned from each of these potential stumbling blocks, but possibly the most important is this – if you discover your initiative needs a re-write along the way, that does not mean the goal is a failure, it simply means some adjustments need to be made to your definition of success, and how you will achieve it.
There’s no doubt about it, choosing to live your life by design takes more work than simply going with the flow of whatever life happens to throw your way; and it all begins with you … taking the time to be become clear about what you really want, and accepting the power you have to achieve that outcome.
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. ~Don Williams Jr.
To get a feel for the process, why not take a little time to pick out a goal you’re working on now and clearly define what successful completion of that goal will look like?
As you go through this process, remember to identify areas where support or participation from others will be required in order to achieve your success. How will you go about accomplishing securing their participation? If you are unable to gain their support, how can you re-write your story in a way that will enable you to remain rooted in your purpose and objectives?
If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested to know it’s an excerpt from my book – It’s Your Time Now – A Guide to Living Your Life by Design. Like most things I write, this is not about quick fixes … it’s about becoming proactive to create the life you really want for yourself, and each chapter ends with an action step outlined to help you on the way.
Your Time Now has been consistently rated 5* by readers and will be available for Free download on Kindle from 12/13 – 12/16.
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