There are many ways to measure success and it will mean different things to many different people.
It’s important to spend time figuring out what success looks like in your world, otherwise you’ll never quite know what you’re working towards and when it arrives.
The standard form of measuring success is often based upon how much income you earn per year. I feel safe in saying, this is a shallow form of measurement that will never be enough to move you through hurdles and bring you the happiness you are more than likely seeking. It is without a doubt, an important part of the equation, but not the defining factor.
At the moment, I feel quite successful, despite not earning a lot of money. It’s because I am following my success criteria every day.
I’ve earned more money working certain jobs, but that never made me feel successful, either because I wasn’t really working towards anything, I was just going through the motions to get some cash for other things, or I just hated my job.
Two ways of measuring success
There are two very important questions to ask to uncover if you are walking the right path to success.
1. Am I waking up happy?
I don’t think you can feel profound success unless you can say you love what you do. You need to walk a path where you don’t dread the coming of the day.
You leap out of bed to greet it.
On a B-School call last week Marie Forleo said, “You have to work for something you believe in.”
I reflected on the misery so many people feel because they are just grinding the wheel each day, just to get by.
When I was teaching, my alarm would rudely wake me from sleep and the first word I uttered was Oh Fuck. This set the standard for my day. I woke up cranky and dreading what lay ahead.
I had nothing in my cup to give to others. I wasn’t creating, I wasn’t serving, and I was miserable. I definitely wasn’t working for what I believed in, so each day was torturous dredgery.
Each day we live is a gift. We should NEVER be living a life that causes us to wake and embrace the day with such dread and lack of enthusiasm to express and serve. TOTAL failure.
I can’t even remember when, or what happened to make me finally wake up to how absurd this life was. But, the minute I did, I started working for something better. I knew that success would be the day I awoke feeling calm, happy, and ready to give the best that I have.
While what I do now has its ups and downs, and I often long for moments of stillness and quiet away from the computer, for the past 2 years, I’ve never woken with that dread that used to fill me when contemplating a day teaching. I could earn so much more money teaching, or possibly even working in a restaurant, but I’m happy doing what I do.
I can happily work 12 hour days, seven days a week and feel okay. I know I’m on the right path because I now loathe public holidays. My one thought is, “Why can’t everyone just get back to work, so I can get things done for my business!” When I was teaching, my motto was, “Sick days are there to be taken.”
Until you can say you awake each morning happy with how you contribute and use your talents, success will be limited.
Am I making a difference?
Happiness and success is short lived if you aren’t in some way making a difference to the lives of others. You don’t have to have your own business to do this. Any person in any job can be making a difference.
If you are struggling in your current job, one way to change it into a more positive experience is to focus on how you are making a difference and work to improving that every day. To get me through the days of teaching, I focused on how I could possibly impact the life of a child. It got me through the Oh Fuck mornings.
Waking up happy is what kick starts my day into action. It’s knowing how I am helping others that gets me moving through the day and jumping over hurdles.
Happiness is so transitory that you may awake happy in the morning knowing you are doing what you love, but by lunch time you have had such a bitching day that you’re ready to throw in the towel.
You will, if you don’t understand the value of what you contribute to the world. Once you realize that people rely on you for something only you can give, you’ll work through the challenges and come out a better person.
You realize life is not all about you. Your happiness is essential because you need that full cup, but unless you are overfilling that to someone else, that happiness will dry up pretty quickly.
Each of us needs to know that we are serving a purpose and leaving a positive legacy behind.
If you can say you are touching the lives of others, no matter how small it may seem to you, then you are successful.
What about the money?
I know what you’re thinking, How can you have success if you don’t make enough money to have the choices you want?
A certain income level is an important consideration for your definitions of success. We need money to cover our living costs and so we can do things we love and have things we want.
If you define your success upon the two factors above, then your focus towards money will shift a little. You’ll plan wisely for how much money you need to have the happiness and contribution will change.
Is it worth you earning $100,000 a year at a job you hate that doesn’t make a difference, or, would you prefer to earn $70,000 and wake up happy and know you are changing the lives of others?
You’ll recognize what sacrifice you’re willing to pay and make them.
That is not to say, you can’t have the $100,000 a year AND the job/business you love. Absolutely keep working for that. But, first aim for the happiness and contribution.
I pretty much reckon the money will follow after that anyway.
Take some time to think about your definition of success today. I bet you’ll work out that it has less to do with stats, accolades, numbers, and awards and more with how your feelings and contribution.
Please share with me your definition of success.