Do you really know what success is?
I asked myself that question a couple of years ago while I was working at the bank.
I was struggling with my life as everyday was completely grey: Meeting the same people, having the same conversations, eating at the same places and doing exactly the same work everyday.
I was bored out of my mind and I wanted to wake up of my horrible dream.
Once I asked that question, my discomfort grew. Why? I didn’t know the answer.
The importance of having your own definition of success
Success has so many definitions it’s impossible we would agree on one. That’s what makes it so beautiful: There isn’t one single definition of success.
This isn’t about “One definition of success to rule them all”, that’s a pointless exercise. Instead I want you to let your inner warrior decide what success means to you.
You may be wondering: why waste your time creating a definition if you can just look it in your dictionary? Simple, because your happiness depends on it.
If you don’t have your own definition of success, it’s like running on a treadmill without a real reason to do it. You will just jump from task to task just for the sake of keeping yourself busy, in other words, you will just waste your time.
Your own definition of success is your map, it will you if you are going to reach a safe harbor.
I know you don’t want to feel like you are wasting your time, after all you can’t create more.
If you invest a little effort to set in your own words what that safe harbor means, you are saving yourself an immense amount of wasted hours running in circles, because you know exactly where you are going (even if you don’t know all the steps involved).
Do you want to have the time to do what you really want?
Then, why waste it working without the slightest idea of where are you going?
Let’s get right into it.
How to create your own definition of success
First, you need to find out if you are believing a different definition of success, something that doesn’t really belongs to you. Ask yourself and write your answer: What is success for you?
Don’t try to edit yourself. Whatever comes out, just write it down.
If you are struggling to answer, just take a deep breath. You are starting with a blank canvas and you can paint whatever you want on it. You aren’t broken or wrong for not having a definition, you just haven’t asked this question before, just like I was back at the bank.
On the other hand if you came up with a definition of success, it’s time for you to test it out. Take a deep look at your own values and beliefs and see if what you wrote really aligns with them. Is it really for you?
It’s time to create (or edit) your definition. This is a very powerful exercise and it requires complete honesty, not to me, not to your fellow warriors, but to yourself.
I want you to keep in mind a couple of things to make this exercise far more successful (pun intended):
- Success is holistic: Your endgame should embrace all parts of your life. It involves your health, your work and sense of purpose, your relationships with family and friends and all the little areas of your life you don’t usually focus on, even those that worry you.
- Success makes you happy: You can’t escape this one, if your definition doesn’t make you happy or you feel like it’s kinda ok, then you need to start over. The point of this exercise is to aim for happiness and a life you really want. Enjoy the process and smile, remember you are saving yourself a lot of work.
- Success motivates you: You must be able to look at your definition and feel full of energy and with a full desire to work towards it. Otherwise, if your definition makes you feel down, there is something truly wrong, just do the exercise again.
With those key points in mind, it’s time to jump right into it. Block some time alone and find a peaceful space. Make a blank file in your computer or grab a piece of paper, you will be writing down a couple of things:
- Give yourself 5 minutes to write down all the things that makes you happy. Everything that comes to mind is perfectly valid, and try not to stop yourself in the middle of this process.
- Give yourself another 5 minutes to write what you believe will make you happy in each area of your life (that means 5 minutes for health, 5 minutes for relationships and so on). Don’t edit yourself, just go on.
- Take a small 5 minutes break here. What you have accomplished during those 5 minute blocks is to make a small rough sketch of the life you really want, so feel really happy right now because you’re walking towards your success.
- Take another lovely 5 minutes and mix and match things from the “makes you happy” list with all the other lists. Look at the things you’re already doing that make you come closer to the life you want.
- Take a deep breath again, and give yourself another 5 minutes to write all your worries and fears, it doesn’t matter if you feel a bit uncomfortable, don’t edit yourself. Remember, you will not show this to anyone else.
- Since the last step is usually a bit rough, take another break here. Understand that it’s important to know what you don’t want in your life, that way those things won’t creep back into your world.
- Now with all the lists, give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to write your own definition of success, based on all the things you just wrote. Don’t worry if it doesn’t sound super cool, just write it and keep in mind the 3 key points I mentioned above.
- Give yourself a good reward, because you just took a step not everyone does. Your warrior spirit should be happy and filling you with a lot of energy.
Remember, never to give yourself more time to finish a list. Why? The time constraint will help you focus in the task at hand. I know 5 minutes sound as almost no time, but you will be amazed how much you’ll write during that small window.
One optional step you could take is to edit a bit more your definition to create something that really sounds cool and empowering, it could become your own battle-cry for quick empowering at any time.
Just as you, your success can change
It’s truly hard to see what life is going to bring us. The future is created with each of our actions. You may change directions, and your definition may need to be tweaked in the future.
As much as I would like to say you are ready to set your words into stone, I think it’s my duty to tell you to run this exercise every now and then.
If you ever notice the power of your definition is fading, it means you need to this again. Maybe things have changed enough for you to want a different kind of future. It’s ok, it means you are human and you are adapting.
Time to take action!
Now that you know your definition of success, it’s time for you to start taking the right action towards it. I’m not a believer of the law of attraction, but I know once you start walking the path to success, you will be able to spot opportunities you were not able to see before.
Remember, block some time and work on this exercise uninterrupted. The investment is well worth it.
If you have any doubts, remember you can contact me or you can voice them in the comments.
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Photo by Sarah Korf