An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.
– Winston Churchill
Do you permit yourself to be successful? Do you even know what success means for you and others? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines success as:
Definition of SUCCESS
obsolete : outcome, result
a : degree or measure of succeeding
b : favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
: one that succeeds
Is that really all there is to the word? Is success nothing more than a result or accomplishment? I think not. In fact, I don’t think anyone else can create a definition for success other than you. So let’s spend this time together creating the perfect meaning for success.
STEP ONE. Make a list of the elements/factors/characteristics of what success has to include for you. Is is simply money? Is it quality of life? How about the ability to change your life or the lives of others? Is transforming your environment and the world around that is an important part of your definition of success? Does it involve a specific goal that is achieved? Or perhaps it’s the lack of any target at all.
STEP TWO. Now make a new list. Include in this one all the emotions that come with success. What does success feel like? Does it have a taste? A color? An emotion? Make success multi-layered and dig deep.
STEP THREE. If success was a person -real or imagined, living or dead – who would it be? Write that down, too. It doesn’t have to be just one person, by the way.
STEP FOUR. A definition is an explanation of something. That necessarily means some things have been excluded in order to create the meaning. Make a list of the things that success is NOT.
STEP FIVE. Finally, make a list of the things you fear about success? All of them! Some have actually said that what you fear is really what you want (or you wouldn’t think about it in the first place). While I don’t necessarily agree with that premise, I do accept that, in looking at your fears, you can find what you truly want. At the very least, take your list of fears and turn each one of them around into a positive statement of something you want. For example, if you wrote “I am afraid to speak in public,” then turn that around by writing “I am able to speak in public with power, grace, and charisma.” If you wrote, “I am afraid of being poor,” then reverse that by now writing, “I have an abundant life and things flow to me easily and with grace.”
STEP SIX. Look over the lists you have created and let it sink in. What are the common themes? What is the direction the things you wrote seem to be pushing you towards? Are there definite pitfalls to be avoided? Whatever you come up with, take the time to now write down the definition of success that all this prior work has led you to.
Armed with your definition of success, you can start to feel a sense of relief combined with excitement. Don’t stop there! Now analyze what your definition of success means – truly means – for the decisions that you make for your life. It is now your task to make all your future decisions consistent with and responsive to the definition you have created. You already know that you can achieve success or you wouldn’t have been able to fashion the definition in the first place. It is your obligation to start moving your life towards fulfilling that meaning.
So that you can start seeing how having a definition of success provides your choices with new potency, make a final list of the goals you want to achieve. Now, compare those goals with your definition and see if they reconcile with each other. If something on your list of goals is at odds or irreconcilable with your success meaning, then it might be time to take that particular goal of the “immediate” list. Now is the time to make those goals that are in agreement with your meaning of success the priorities in your life.
By taking the time to truly determine what success means for you, you will have accomplished something that most people never even attempt. You will be putting priorities and targets into your life that can be coordinated and achieved. Most people go through life reacting to the what falls in their lap or crosses their path. Not you. You are now armed with a definition that provides you with a purpose which, in turn, gives you something to measure against as you make decisions on how to effectively and efficiently spend your time, energy, and money.
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