Everyone has their own definition of what success looks like, feels like, and will allow them to do, be, and have. But many times, success is viewed as something “out there” – if we strive enough and work hard enough, we’ll get “it.” The truth is, success is always an inside job; it’s a combination of understanding what speaks to you from your core so you can transform those messages into something real on the outside. The following five drivers will help you ask the right questions and set you up for ultimate success.
The road to success is always under construction
1. Know your values
People are endlessly attracted to shiny new business ideas only to have their enthusiasm burn out in a few weeks or months. Their interest wanes, they’re muddled in disillusion, and they can’t actually remember what made them so attracted to the idea in the first place. Many times this is because the shiny business idea didn’t actually reflect their values; it didn’t reward them on a deep enough level to keep them going through the highs and lows that come with starting or maintaining something, even if it’s profitable. You can sidestep this problem and get really clear on what you value by asking the following questions:
• What routines do I have each day that are most sacred?
• What do I most cherish in my personal and professional lives?
• What three things reward me most?
• What types of behavior do I believe to be “right” or “good”?
Time spent jotting down ten to fifteen important values can help you understand what will motivate, reward, and drive you most – and whether what you’re chasing is really your version of success or someone else’s.
2. Notice your need for approval
Everyone needs to feel validated and appreciated but when this need overshadows your ability to work and live in ways that leave you feeling satisfied and successful, you may find yourself questioning everything – most of all, yourself. When this happens, take a step back and ask the following:
• What behaviors do I engage in that cause me the most inner conflict?
• Who do I have the most conflict with in my personal life and why?
• Who do I have the most conflict with in my professional life and why?
• Am I living and working in ways that feel authentic or am I “faking it”? If I’m “faking it” – why and for whom?
• If I am totally honest about what I want – both personally and professionally – who would I be the most scared / anxious/ nervous to tell and why?
When thinking about success, take a moment to be honest and determine if the vision you have for success is your own or one that will be met with approval by others. And remember, you can have a vision you’re excited about and that is wholeheartedly approved of by others. By noticing your need for approval, you can figure out where you may be hindering yourself by avoiding a difficult conversation, making an unpopular decision, or not getting in touch with what’s really important to you.
3. Get Rid of Distractions
One of the most influential quotes I’ve ever read takes a bottom line approach to both life and work:
Time is more valuable than money.
You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.
If you want to be truly successful, you must embrace the concept that time is your most valuable asset. And in order to maximize this asset, you must eliminate distractions. Start by looking at your current routines and streamline or eliminate anything non-essential. Can you delegate something at work to someone else on your team? If you’re a one-person show, is there a way to batch certain tasks together to do them more efficiently? Can you outsource a few things that aren’t in your wheelhouse and use that time to make progress on something else? Install time tracking software on your tech tools that allows you to monitor how much time you spend surfing sites that have no direct personal or business benefit and start limiting that surfing. Then, figure out what you can add into your new open time blocks that will generate the most value – both in terms of job productivity and through a personal sense of satisfaction.
4. Combine passions in new ways
One of the most fun ways to feel successful is by solving problems or creating new products by combining one or more of your passions. Think about what you like, what you’re good at, what you value, and what people ask you to help them with – even if these things aren’t part of your current job. Then try and link two or more of those things together to create something new and useful. Think about how excited you’ll be if what you do allows you to express yourself in a way that benefits others on a deep level. Combining passions also gives you a larger base of ideas to work from, increases your opportunity for collaboration, and can provide you with more than one revenue stream.
5. Embrace change and unpredictability
Lastly, understand that the only constant in life and work is change, and with that comes unpredictability. As you learn and grow – both personally and professionally – know that your definition of success will change – and that’s a good thing. Think of the unpredictability that life brings as a new opportunity to experience who you are in both your personal life and your career.