Does your definition of success have to do with money? Job title or prestige? Or does it relate to family or your children? Or maybe it relates to the level of your current golf game. You should be aware of how you define success. If not, how can you tell if you have achieved any or all of what you view as success, whether you have met interim goals or whether you need to change course to reach your goals?
As with all goal setting exercises, it helps to begin with the end in mind. It makes it much easier to chart your course and come up with the steps to get there. Knowing where you are and where you want to be also will help you set interim goals.
For me, success comes from both my professional and personal lives. In my professional life, I work with a great group of attorneys, enjoy the types of clients I work with and am proud of the professional reputation I have in my community. In my personal life I have a great wife and four (mostly) great kids depending on the day. They all are happy and healthy. I am able to spend time with them and enjoy their company even though it all is going by too fast. For me, I view both parts of my life as successful.
But that doesn’t mean I have no goals related to success and am resting on my laurels. You have to continuously set goals that fit within your definition of success. This includes both long-term and short-term goals.
It is important to remember that what you view as success likely will change over time. It is relative to where you sit, what is important to you at that point in time and where you want to be. The point is that it is okay to pivot and shift your interim or ultimate goals.
Similarly, me feeling successful doesn’t mean I am the best or most successful attorney. Similarly it doesn’t make me the best husband or father at every moment. Instead it means I am working to meet what success means to me, and the goals I have set and reset to get there.
It will help you if you write down what success means to you, along with the steps and goals to get you there. Once you do that, don’t file it away. Instead, keep a copy on your desktop on your computer, in some program on your phone or tablet and even a hard-copy on your desk or in your work space. You need to review this information regularly so you know where you are or whether changes may be needed.
Take the time to see where you are on your road to success and you will have a better chance to get there. And remember while you are on that road to enjoy the ride.
Here are some quotes on what success means to a few people you may be familiar with:
Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, equates success with personal fulfillment:
“Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”
“To me, the definition of success is waking up in the morning with a smile on your face, knowing it’s going to be a great day. I was happy and felt like I was successful when I was poor, living six guys in a three-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floor.”
The late basketball coach John Wooden said his definition of success was more about competing with yourself than the other guy.
Warren Buffet says he measures success by how many people love him.
The late poet Maya Angelou believed “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Bill Gates looked at it differently, saying “It is also nice to feel like you made a difference — inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.”
The important thing to note is they each are right, just like your definition of success will be for you.