I work with ambitious and overscheduled women to define their definition of success. My clients are professionals in a wide range of occupations such as, higher education, creative entrepreneurs, and women in fast-paced information technology positions. The measures of success is incredibly different for each individual.
In the U.S., success is typically defined by wealth, power, and stature in your profession. It's defined by your salary, your overall income, what you're able to buy. It's my experience and the collective experience of many of my clients that money is not the only indicator of success. There are infinite measurements of success: impact one makes in the world, the amount of quality time one is able to spend with her loved ones, and overall contentment.
Here are the seven basic steps of self reflection to redefine your version of success. I urge you to write the answers down in a journal or a sheet of paper so you can see where your thoughts lead you.
1. In your dream life, describe what you have, what you're doing, what you've accomplished, how you feel, and where you are when you know you have "made it." Write down as many details as you can.
2. What do you notice about that life? What is your currency of success? Is it money? Is it your social media following? Is it achieving a certain goal? Is it living in a certain city? Is it getting compliments from others? Is it when you have the number of children you want? Is it when you see a certain number on a scale? Is it your level of overall happiness? Write down the currency you use to determine your success.
3. Imagine your ideal day. If you were living exactly the life you wanted to live, how would your day look? What time would you wake up? What would you do first? What would you be wearing? What activities will fill your day? Who would you interact with? Go into as much detail as you can to have an illustrative day. Circle the things you know you can start implementing now. If you're already doing some of them, you're already ahead of the curve!
4. Who are the people you admire that are living a successful life as defined by your measurement? What do they have that you want? Remember that one person may not have every measurement you are looking for.
5. Examine what parts of your life that are fulfilling. Take stock in the following areas and rate (1-10) how satisfied you are in each: Career. Significant Other/Romantic Relationships. Finances. Health. Fun and Recreation. Family. Friends. Home. Work Environment. Personal Growth/Spirituality. What part scored on the higher end? What scored on the lower end? Are you putting a lot of emphasis on one part because that's how/where you feel most successful? What would it look like if your score was higher?
6. Write down five adjectives that you want people to use to describe you.
7. If somebody were to write a memoir about you, what experiences would you like to have highlighted? What are the things that you know are meant to be part of the story?
Redefining success for you is incredibly important so you know what your "end game" is. Without some self-reflection and knowing what you're working to achieve, you may find yourself at the end of your life with regrets about not having worked toward certain goals. Not everybody's life is defined by the corporate standard of making gobs of money. One of my success indicators is that I'll never again have to write, rewrite or agonize about a cover letter and resume. We all have different standards of success and these tools will help you uncover what's most important for you. You might discover that it's not always about the money.