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What Success Looks Like: The Different Faces of Success

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What does success look like to you? It’s a little vague. We can measure success financially; maybe you want a million dollars in the bank or cash on hand. Or mentally, perhaps you feel successful when you wake up earlier than your alarm and meditate every day. But what does success do for you? Does it make you feel content, or is it a constant goal that stretches your limits? Have you ever stopped to think about this question: what does success mean to me?

group of friends laughing together

What success looks like

More often than not, “success” is a word that means something different for everyone. There is no set definition for success, but there are some recurring themes: 

  1. Financial freedom, including a lifestyle that allows you the time and money to enjoy your passions and create the career and life you want. 
  2. The ability to help others who are less fortunate. 
  3. A sense of meaning and purpose in your life and career beyond just bringing home a paycheck.
  4. A healthy body and mind, including appropriate nutrition, exercise, sufficient sleep, and hobbies that relax you. 
  5. A network of supportive friends, family members, and colleagues who regularly make you feel good about yourself. 
  6. Opportunities for personal growth through reading, education, and travel. 
  7. Self-worth based on your achievements, not what others have told you or what society expects from you .

And the list goes on.

As you may have realized, success can be a handful of things, and we all have a different barometer that tells us whether or not we’re thriving. For some people, success might be measured by their bank account, while others might judge themselves on work/life balance. These are just examples of what people consider a success, but they are just that — examples. That’s what needs to be fleshed out and defined clearly. This will differentiate success from just being another word for “prizes.”

On your search to find your success, you’ll come across many doors hinting at their potential to answer this question for you and you may fear to be successful. Unfortunately, most of those doors lead to dead ends. Some are covered in cobwebs, others are missing a crucial doorknob, and in others, there’s just nothing beyond but an empty void of desperation. At the end of the day, it’s your journey in life towards success that will ultimately define it.

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Guide to owning your success

If you don’t know what makes you happy, how can you measure success in a meaningful way? When I ask people this question, they often tell me about their passions. But these are dreams, not goals. And while they’re essential, they’re no one’s definition of success.

Success is measurable only when it’s connected to an outcome that moves the needle in your life. It’s a specific accomplishment that means something real to you — something that would make you say, “Yes! That’s what I want.” Your definition of success will change as you grow and change as a person, so it’s worthwhile to revisit it every so often. 

The following success guide is designed to help you figure out your vision for success, how to achieve it, and how to push your dial from “okay” to “amazing.” 

Defining your success

The most successful people have a clear idea of what they want from their lives. They know what success looks like and how to get there, and they’re not afraid to take a few risks on the way. If you want to be successful, you first have to decide what success means. Is it money, fame, or something else? What does success look like for you? 

The key, however, to achieving success is being able to define success on your terms. It takes time and effort to get there, but you can achieve whatever you want with self-awareness, commitment, and dedication. 

Take action consistently

Once you’ve figured that out, develop a plan of action. Focus on honing your skills and developing your talents to achieve your goals. If you aren’t happy in your career, take some time to reflect on how to change it. If you’re unhappy in a relationship, sit down and honestly discuss your feelings and expectations with your partner. 

Next, make a list of everything holding you back from achieving your definition of success. Whether it’s negative self-talk or fear of failure — whatever it is — write it down. Then make a list of everything that will push you forward toward success. This might include confidence-building exercises or setting aside time for working toward your goal each day. Finally, pick one action from the second list and do it every day for the next 30 days. It doesn’t matter how big or small the actions you’re going to take — as long as you do it consistently.

what does success look like four persons

Nurture your relationships

There are a lot of factors to success, but there is one that seems to make the most significant difference. Ignore all other elements and focus on one thing – community and relationships. Successful people still have this in common – they have a robust support system and actively build relationships with other smart, driven people.

They know how to get things done without having to do it all themselves. And they know how to surround themselves with people who can help them get things done even better than they could on their own.

You might be thinking, “I don’t need anyone else to succeed.” If you believe that, you either haven’t tried hard enough or haven’t been successful yet. You might want to think again because having a solid network of people you can rely on will help you achieve your goals faster and easier than if you try doing it alone.

You can also nurture your relationships by helping others. Be the support and help that other people need. Don’t spread yourself too thin though — the key has always been healthy and balanced relationships.

Be open to learning new things

You can achieve success by changing your life through dedication and hard work, but you have to be open to learning to reach your goals. Dedication and hard work can only take someone so far. They are essential initially, but eventually, you will have to use your brain to make it past the initial stages of success. 

Treat every day as an opportunity for learning and self-improvement. Use each new experience as a chance to learn from the mistakes that you make along the way. If you are open to learning, you will not only succeed but continue to do so over your lifetime. Keep reading and educating yourself every day to use your knowledge in multiple areas of your life.

Once you make a mistake, learn from it instead of repeating it again and again. Make sure that any advice you seek is advice that is already proven working before you attempt it on your own. Don’t just follow what everyone else is doing because they are doing it. Take each day as an opportunity to improve yourself and never stop learning new things!

Success doesn’t have to be complicated

It can be straightforward. Your standards and expectations define your success, and that’s it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about your success or how much money you make. If you are happy with where you are in life and feel that you are successful, you are a success. If someone tries to tell you differently, they aren’t defining success correctly and wrong. 

If you want to reach your definition of success, you have to be willing to take risks and make sacrifices. You’ll have to learn new skills and do things differently than most people. The way forward won’t be easy, but if you work hard enough and smart enough, you’ll surely find a path that works for you.

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