How Do You Define and Measure Your Own Success?
I often ask coaching clients, “What is your definition of success?” When it comes to the definition, we attach many different meanings to success and, by default, also to failure.
The dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, and the good or bad outcome of an undertaking.” But who’s to set that aim or purpose and assess the outcome?
In other words, how do you define, and then measure, your own success?
Since making a sharp turn in my life, I have been questioning the definition of success, and have discovered the beauty in its versatility.
Types of success
Some evaluate their success against a list of things they want to or feel they should experience in life. “Once I have all of these, I will feel successful.” One item unchecked in the list and the success story is wiped out.
To others, success may be attached to just one main life goal.
As I thought about what success may represent in general, I identified at least six different types that people may relate to, in various degrees:
1. Material Success: Perhaps the most common of all, this is the success measured by material gains and possessions. The size of the house they live in or properties owned, the brand of their clothes and handbags, the number of luxury motors in the garage… the list of material possessions could go on forever.
2. Financial Success: Financial success is a close relative to the material kind, but it is not the same. Some may aim for the latter at the expense of the former, accumulating debt to fulfill their material success. Others may go to great lengths to reach a certain balance in the bank, sometimes even limiting life experiences and possessions, for fear of not reaching their financial goals.
3. Emotional Success: This type of success relates to the state of well-being, measured by the level of mental contentment and peace they feel in their lives, and for themselves and others. It may be measured, for instance, by the ability to maintain a stable positive mindset and a positive outlook on their day-to-day experiences of life.
4. Social Success: One may measure success by their social lifestyle, the quality and quantity of their social network, or their career achievements and the position they hold in their working industry. A few high-caliber friendships vs. a trillion followers on their Instagram. The title on their business cards vs. the effectiveness of the team they manage.
5. Physical Success: Then there’s the physical element. This may be connected to health status and physical fitness or body image too, and a combination of all of these. This type of success could also relate to particular achievements in sports, gaining a particular professional goal, or the completion of other personal challenges.
6. Relationship Success: Last but not least, success achieved through a relationship status. Different from social success, this success refers specifically to your love relations. Finding your soulmate, staying happy single, or getting married.
My kind of success
For a while, my definition of success included a respected and growing career, a higher-than-average salary, a beautiful place to call home, a loving family and set of trusted friends, fitting comfortably in a size 8, a handsome and adventurous partner, and being able to fly off on holidays whenever I could take time off work. Essentially, a combination of all of the six types of successes listed above, and that’s okay.
I do still aspire to all of these elements in a way, but it’s how I choose to feel success instead of failure in those areas that has made the biggest impact in my life.
Even failure has morphed into a form of success.
Since learning that I was being somewhat unoriginal and restrictive with my definition, and that I could set my personal life goals freely, things changed radically.
I decided to make success an individual affair, and stop following the masses and create my own meaning of it. A meaning that reflects who I am and not who I used to feel I should be.
I had a serious chat with myself and assessed what truly mattered to me. And that assessment is ongoing.
I soon realized I couldn’t define success until I uncovered my key values and passions. These became the key ingredients for my recipe for success. A recipe that I can change as I evolve.
Living successfully has taken on so many new definitions for me.
I measure my success by how positive and grateful I feel from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I close my eyes at night. And in fact, by how well I sleep too!
I live successfully when I live in the present moment, when I push my boundaries and know I have given my whole. When I feel loving and loved, when I share my positive vibes with others.
Success also means appreciating my every breath and each single heartbeat. It means being aligned to my truth and being true. It is being respectful towards myself and all living beings.
It’s having the courage to stay playful and curious forever, and going for my dreams regardless of how crazy they may seem.
This way my success does not feel like an end goal or a continuous pursuit, but becomes a life companion. My daily drive and motivation.
Magically, with this approach I am feeling accomplished in all the types of success identified above.
Getting clear on what success means to you
In my experience, getting clear on what success really meant to me helped me find day-to-day fulfillment and progress towards the bigger goals too.
Success doesn’t have to be fixed, but you can shape it and resize it as much as you like.
When tailor-made to suit you, success becomes a positive motivation rather than a stressful competition. The more your success is aligned to your truth and your values, the more likely you are to maintain a supportive and optimistic mindset.
And we know that motivation drives determination to take action and realize our limitless visions. That vision should ideally to be your vision and not that of others, perhaps for others instead.
Einstein once stated,“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” To replace living for material gains with adding our unique contributions.
But how would you do this?
Identify what truly matters. Your core values and passions.
I had to be honest and brutal with myself. Differentiate success driven by my ego and external factors, and dig deeper into the real reasons behind certain goals I set for myself.
I started dismissing anything cultivated by fear or judgment, a need for validation or lack of self-love. Instead, find success in everything that emanates zest for life, that makes you come alive. Smile. Create big goals and small ones too. What drives you every day?
In September 2018, Francesca Dal Bello embarked on a solo van-life adventure, touring Europe in a camper van for one year. While on the road, she serves as a Freedom Coach, shares her passion for freedom, gratitude, foolishness and positivity through her writing and speaking, and manages her two rented properties in London. After 22 years of office life and the last 16 in the legal and corporate secretarial sector, Francesca took a big leap of faith and swapped her successful career for exploring new horizons. She went volunteering in Nepal, solo travelling in Asia for 4 months, riding her Harley from London to Italy (and back!), walking 930 km along the Camino de Santiago, then launched her own life coaching business. You can get in touch with her and follow her stories and updates on Gr8fool and Instagram. To find out more about how her Freedom Coaching sessions can help identify and remove limiting beliefs and damaging self-assessments, and increase glorious gratitude and love in your life, you can get in touch with Francesca here.