By Life Coach Susan Whipple:
People's StoriesSuperViva Exclusives
Also check out interesting books.
Life Coach Advice
Success On Your Own Terms
By Laura Koehne
Articles and books that promise a formula for success drive me crazy! Personal success is the intersection of an individual’s life values, passions, and material goals. Just as no two human's life experiences are exactly identical, no two definitions of success can truly be the same.
Yet the word success is constantly bantered in our society and we discuss it like we know what it means. Someone says, “He is so successful!” and you might agree as long as he has money and power or extraordinary altruism that match society’s standards for the word. But what do you know of his real success – that of his own standards? How successful does that man feel if he has destroyed his marriage, lost time with his child, put aside a artistic passion, or felt extreme loneliness on his way to achievement.
Recently, when I asked clients their definition of success, several told me that they needed to ditch the word itself. What a step in the right direction! For one the new word was "achievement," for another the phrase "being real" summed it up. In one case, my ambitious, and (by conventional standards) very successful friend used one definition for success as society would define it and then, admitting the description left her cold, blurted a second definition for “meaningful existence” which she finds much more motivating.
While, in my mind, it isn’t possible to give someone a formula for becoming successful, one powerful step toward defining and processing success in your own unique way is to shed that useless word!
Here are three ways to start defining success in your own terms:
1) Feel It. How do you feel when you achieve personal success?
How do you feel when you’ve achieved something meaningful? Let those feelings guide your future activities.
2) Boil it Down. Steve, a dear friend of mine, fondly recalls a sign hanging in a Vermont country store. It says, “Sleep, Eat, Ski, Hike, Fish” and embodies to him a fun and fulfilling existence. Day to day, he works his 9-5 job in Washington, DC but still retains the five word mantra to remind him of his true passions and goals. For him, successful living is embodied in that sign: in those 5 words and the context of Vermont country life.
Can you boil your idea of success and fulfillment into five words? What metaphor or symbol embodies your ideal life?
3) Expand the Context. Sometimes defining success is overwhelming because it seems to require you to nail down ideas of lifetime achievement. While that is part of it, applying a single idea of success to all the situations and times in life is far too limiting. The terms of success must change as the context changes, and you are likely to have many different definitions. Keep your overarching goals in sight but also focus on day-to-day events to weave your personal view of success into the process of life.
How do you think about fulfillment in the different contexts of your life? What makes this one moment meaningful? What is achievement for you in this one hour, one month, one job or one relationship?
Laura Koehne founder of THRIVE Against the Grain, coaches you to take the road less traveled with complete confidence. For additional exercises, support and inspiration for your journey, subscribe to Laura’s DoWhat!? monthly eZine.
© 2006 Laura Koehne
Find Ways to Do it