Define Success

Some people just want to be at the top of the food chain.

Do you remember Spelling and Reading class in elementary school? I do. It was one of my favorite subjects. My least favorite was math (I still hate math).

In Spelling and Reading the teacher would write one of our weekly vocabulary words on the board and call out someone to tell the rest of us the definition. Most kids hated this, but not me. I have always enjoyed expanding my vocabulary.

So here’s today’s vocabulary word, Success. Let’s look at the definition of the word and then we will move on to its application to our lives.

Success– a: degree or measure of succeeding b: favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.

I like that Webster’s Dictionary defines Success as a “favorable or desired outcome” over “the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence”. Isn’t it true that we all have different favorable outcomes? What I consider successful may be completely different that what you think is successful.

The first step to becoming successful is deciding what success looks like to you.
When you picture success what do you see? Is it living lavishly with no need to count how many dollars you hand out? Is it a prosperous business or organization with your name branded all over it? Is it a simple and quiet life surrounded by the people that you love?

There was a time when I believed that a six-figure income equalled success because that’s what most of the articles that I was reading at the time said. Whenever I first attained income at that level it was exciting, but quickly became disappointing. I realized that money alone wasn’t enough to attain the lifestyle that I was wanting.

I thought that money would buy me the freedom and influence that I wanted. The problem was that the job took almost all of my time. There was no opportunity to enjoy my family or mentor others.

I had more money than I knew what to do with, but was miserable. Gaining that level of financial success was becoming extremely expensive in relationships and time. I was unable to pursue the things that are most important to me.

Since I knew that my idea of success is creating a positive impact to everyone that I come in contact with and becoming financially independent in order to spend my time the way that I want, I had to adjust my career trajectory toward a path of less salary but more time to spend in what I see as worthy causes (family and leadership development).

So again, what is your desired outcome? Money and fame are wonderful ambitions if they are used as instruments to get the lifestyle that you are looking for, but they can’t be the endgame (check out David DiSalvo’s article regarding money and happiness here).

I know miserable millionaires who focused only on accruing capital and I know joyful missionaries who have almost no personal possessions but are joyful in their work. I dare you to guess which ones feel successful.

Only when you define what success looks like in your life can you figure out what it is worth to you. If you are not on your way to that vision right now, it’s time to adjust course and go after it with everything you have. I challenge you today to make the changes necessary in order to bring your vision to fruition.

Focus on the consequence that your hard work produces and make sure that it brings you joy.