“I want to be successful.”
It’s a common goal people can agree on. We see it on greeting cards and celebratory posters. Yet, I have no idea what it means.
Looking at all the things I own, where I live, what I do with my free time, I don’t know if this has any real meaning to my life. Do I need more? Do I need less? I prefer less but I really don’t know. What I do know is that I want to figure it out.
I have all these questions: What does success mean to me? How do I know when I achieved success? Why do some achievements feel hollow?
Foundation of perspectives
Knowing where you’re going
If you read my posts you can see a common thread among them. There’s one of personal responsibility in determining my personal vision. To start looking inward to what’s important so I can take action.
A personal vision doesn’t have to be rigid or objective like goals, it allows for adaptability. It gives us a path towards an overall life we want to have and it allows flexibility for us to grow into that personal vision or change it.
My most common perspective was to compare myself to people around me. What level of education do they have? Where do they live? What kind of lifestyle do they have? Then I looked at myself.
I’ve always thought that I was an independent thinker, always ready to listen to opposing views. If I was, why did I look to others for determining my own value? Because I didn’t have a plan for my own path.
I was using a combination of other people’s plans. This is why every time I “achieved” something, like a better position or a new car, it felt like an empty achievement. It can feel like I’m trying to achieve the goal for the sake of achieving the goal, that’s a path to disappointment. I would get frustrated then demoralized and eventually mentally exhausted. A pathway to nowhere.
If I didn’t have a plan for my own path then how I could I know what I wanted or when I wanted something? Where could I find real meaning in the work I do professionally and at home? This is when I needed a personal vision. A guide to how I define success and failure.
Defining personal success
I think we have two ways to define success: objectively and subjectively.
Objective measures are probably the easiest. We can say we want to make a certain amount per year or come up with a number of posts per month. This is something we can measure.
Then we have the more difficult measure, subjective. This could measure how happy we are with an outcome. For me, this is hard to do because it depends on other factors. Factors such as a state of mind at the time a goal was achieved, even where I am when the goal was achieved.
It’s like when you go on vacation and you have this great meal or great drink. You get home and have a similar meal or the same drink and it’s just not as good. What made it great before but only good now? It’s the context of the event.
Path to success
I think the meaning of success has to be rooted in what we want from our lives. Only then can we truly start to measure success.
For me, success is having my goals and vision align. This can get in the way of short-term success and long-term motivation to keep working on your personal vision.
Goals have a starting point, they are based on your experience or lack of experience of something and your knowledge at the time. The more you work on your goals the more you grow. Though I can become too goal orientated and lose focus on why I’m working towards a goal.
If you don’t reevaluate your personal vision with your goals then you’ll continue on the same path without knowing it’s the wrong path.
It’s setting realistic goals and the journey towards their conclusions. I’m not looking for perfection but I am looking for meaningful change and growth.
I’m looking at the discipline to continue on when I get lazy or discouraged. Success means trying, failing, evaluating, and trying again.
Success, for me, means I can look back and say I did “that” and I did “that” for a reason.
Success is what we make of it, it’s what we want it to be when we want it to be. We can design our success through developing a personal vision and associated goals.
It’s up to you to come up with your own version of success. Think of all the times you were successful and it felt good and think of why it felt good. Then, think of the times you were successful and went unfulfilled. Why do you think you felt that way?
This can give you a framework to what’s important to you and lead you on the path to creating your own personal vision.
This is a great opportunity to give yourself a chance at success that’s meaningful and relevant in your life.