What do you think about when you hear the word success? Are you successful? For many of us, success conjures up the image of the rich, the famous and the powerful. Seriously? Is this really what success is all about? In fact, to be successful really has nothing to do with achieving wealth, fame or power. Success is personal and it’s different for each of us. The reason that we often don’t feel successful is because we are measuring ourselves in other people’s measures. The secret to being truly successful is about knowing who you are and what you want and then creating a roadmap to get there . Understanding how important it is to follow your own personal desires and values is the first step to fulfillment, and that is what success is all about: personal fulfillment. But how?
A few years ago a friend of mine was running a very busy medical practice. She had built a fantastic reputation and was often invited to give public talks on health issues. Indeed, was a tad envious of her success. You could say she had everything going for her, and most people would definitely have labelled her with the word ‘successful’. However, after much deliberation she made the decision to close her practice. The reason was that she had never really wanted to become a doctor. Throughout her school years she had become used to others measuring her success through her academic achievements, and when she graduated from school with flying colours, studying medicine seemed to be the next step to success. At university she followed the same pattern, and it was only when she became a well established doctor that she stopped to ask herself the question ‘is this really what I want from life?’ In her case, it wasn’t. She had always been a passionate gardener. That meant that the more successful her medical practise became, the less time she had for herself and her true passion. So she decided to follow the dream that she had always been afraid of, and started growing flowers. She now runs a thriving business, growing and selling flowers at country markets. As she told me herself, no matter how good her GP practice was, she was never going to experience personal success at it, as it wasn’t her true passion or dream. She had been living by other peoples measures of success and not her own.
Of course we cannot all turn away from our careers and we also cannot all turn our hobbies into a business. What we can do, though, is to make sure that our journey is headed towards personal fulfilment. It is not always easy to down tools to follow dreams. You might have more than one dream that you want to follow, and sometimes you need to make compromises. Remember one thing: there are many simple things you can do to feel personal success. It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to do, and you don’t have to better at doing it than anyone else. Just working to be the best you can be, at whatever it is that inspires you, is the true measure of success.
Trying to keep up with other people’s measures is never a good thing. Their successes are purely about them, so comparing yourself to others just isn’t worth it. Instead, focus on what it is that you want to get out of life yourself. If you don’t stop and ask yourself what it really is that you want, you could end up overlooking your successes, or worse, trying to be successful at things that don’t really fulfill you.
So what is ‘true success’? It is when you chase the things that are close to your heart, the things that make you feel successful, no matter what other people think about them. You could say it’s all about passion and understanding just what it is that makes you tick, because long term, your true successes will always be connected to your heart. And it is up to you make things happen for yourself. As Henry Ford once said, “If you believe that you can do a thing, or if you believe you cannot, in either case, you are right.” So what are the things that really do make you successful? Is it maintaining a great relationship? Leading a team of people at work? Being a stay at home parent? Success can also be about self development, it can be about overcoming a fear or learning a new skill. It is so personal that really nobody else can measure it but you.
So go on, start redefining success. You might just realise that you are already very successful!