At my very first "career" job, my salary was $28,000 a year. After years of working low paying jobs to pay my college expenses and subsist, I thought I had it made. I was happy and ready to take on the world.
The next six years, I worked in corporate and then at a growing PR agency and my salary grew rapidly. That constantly increasing income created a hunger in me to keep making more and more money, and my annual salary was a tangible measure of success.
After having my son, I threw all of my "success" away to start my own communications business and quickly hustled my way into six figures. For years, that was enough. I was financially successful, but...at some point financial success wasn't cutting it anymore.
I felt guilty. There I was making a salary that most people would be thrilled to have. Shouldn't I just be happy? What happened to the girl who was content making $28,000/year?
I spent months trying to figure out why I wasn't happy. I came to realize that a six figure success is an artificial goal. Doing work that left me unstimulated and unchallenged was not okay, not even for six figures.
Again, I needed to reinvent myself. I started an online business where I could work for entrepreneurs and help them creating meaningful results in their businesses without breaking the bank. As I became active in online business groups, I quickly noticed that everyone's goal was to make six figures. When people celebrated it was because they'd hit six figures. Over and over again, the stated goal of entrepreneurs was to meet that coveted $100,000/year mark.
Setting a Six Figure Goal Misses the Point
The reality is that six figures as a goal or measure of success misses the point.
My six figures is not your six figures. I live in a small town in rural Ontario just south of Canada's capital. My cost of living is extremely reasonable. For my friend who lives in Marin County, California or the one who lives in Brooklyn, their dollar simply doesn't go as far.
Six figures while it sounds good on paper, doesn't connect to individual economic reality. Hitting that goal doesn't mean the same thing as so many factors come into play from your housing and food costs to how much student debt you may have lurking, or how many cases of diapers you need to purchase in a given month. That same $100k may be a handsome sum for one person and barely enough for another to get by.
Usually, the way people discuss their six figure successes in online business circles is incomplete. Sure you had a six figure launch, but what were the expenses? How much of that did you spend on your Virtual Assistant, Graphic Designer and Business Coach? And let's not forget the tax man! If you are going to talk about money publicly, you should be responsible enough to share the whole story.
Maybe that number makes people feel like they've made it. In my mind, it's simply not enough. It's empty. It's an artificial goal that doesn't really prove anything.
Make Your Goal Meaningful
The epidemic of focusing on six figures as the measure of success needs to stop. When you go into business for yourself, the point is for you to be able to ditch the hard and fast rules of typical success and do it your way.
So why follow the crowd and set a six figure goal? It's overdone, and somewhat of a cliche.
The most meaning will come from goals that enrich your life and not just your bank account. What if your goal was to live a more balanced life where you make the money you need and are home to get your kids off the bus every day? Or where you may make less but your time is truly your own? Maybe it's paying off your mortgage so you can make a good sized monthly charitable contribution?
For me, my goal is centred on creating a beautiful balance of doing work I love, living comfortably and being fully present in my life. No six figure success will ever take the place of being able to live on my terms and in a way that means if I want to take Fridays off all summer long for adventures with my son, I simply do.
Let the six figure goal go. Get back to your why and you'll quickly find more purpose and connection, which is true success.