Challenging Our View of Success



“I want to be successful.” I love hearing these words from clients and friends and the conversation that unfolds is always interesting.
 
Success is a highly subjective concept with a definition that varies from person to person. For many people, measures of success are tangible, distinct endpoints: graduating at the top of the class; achieving a specific job title; settling down with a life partner; completing a marathon; launching kids to college; purchasing a house; starting a business; selling a company; etc. The list is endless.
 
Working towards achieving such success can feel wonderfully motivating and move us along the desired path.  Until we achieve it....and then what?!
 
What happens after we reach the goal that we equated with SUCCESS? If you have ever felt letdown or some degree of the blues after reaching the summit of the proverbial mountain you were climbing, you are not alone.  Disappointment and that feeling of  “what now?” are not uncommon after the joy from an accomplishment diminishes, which it inevitably does and usually much faster than we expected. 


Getting lost in the endpoint can mean missing out on the experience while it is happening.
 

At times, having our eyes on the grand prize can blur our view of the rewards in the foreground. For example, in my quest to climb the corporate ladder, I sacrificed key family activities while my kids were young.  Professionally, I received the promotions and accolades for which I strove. I was successful - - from a career perspective - - and not feeling it. No superpowers or magic wand accompanied my new job title. I was caught off guard by a feeling of emptiness that signaled something was missing. I didn’t know if this void was the space created by no longer channeling my energy into achieving the goal, or a hole in my soul for missing that which I dearly valued – relationships.
 
Creating memories with my kids and experiencing key milestones in real-time during the fleeting period when I was the center of their universe was more valuable than the impressive paycheck I earned. My definition of success had evolved and I realized that my personal meaning was less about professional status and more about being in the moment and living without regret. Success for me had shifted, and I became aware that my updated, definition emphasized being a present parent and enjoying my family. With this epiphany, I pivoted to focus on what I valued most. This does not mean that everyone should quit their job to make playdough and visit museums. Rather, this is an invitation to look inwards and be open to self-development and the growth it yields with respect to your personal definition of success.
  
Defining your vision of success begins by first becoming aware of what matters most to you right now.  Perhaps it is taking charge of your health, slowing down to spend time with aging parents, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or baking your first cheesecake. Priorities will shift due to variable life circumstances so it makes sense that your definition of success today may not match what it was in the past or will be in the future. Second, understanding why your top priorities are important is useful and connects you to your core values. Transformational coaching helps you get in touch with both of these - - the what and the why.
 
How are you living your best life without regrets?
 

Originally published at ARB Coaching, LLC blog on August 10, 2020.

*Image by Prawny from Pixabay 

 

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