“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek. – Mario Andretti
Every person you meet is striving for success in some, if not all, areas of their life.
We all want to be successful and most people want more success than they currently have.
What is Success?
Success means different things to different people, however many of us are governed by the image of success portrayed by society and the media.
The Cambridge dictionary definitions of success are:
- the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for
- something that achieves positive results
The Oxford dictionary definitions of success are:
- the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
- the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status
The Oxford dictionary definition of success aligns perfectly with society’s idea of success – “the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status” – so it’s no surprise that most of us spend much of our life working towards this.
Neither dictionary definition mentions anything about happiness or fulfillment, so why on earth would we associate success with either of these things?
The Truth about Success
Ultimately, all any of us want is to be happy.
We are told from a very young age that the key to our happiness is tied to our level of success and therefore we spend the rest of our life trying to be successful.
This often results in our self-esteem and happiness being linked to external factors, which means when those things are no longer present in our lives, we are no longer happy.
The concept of success we are taught in western society is a flawed path to happiness. – Tweet this
What we are not taught is that success is personal to each of us. We are all unique individuals and as our life experiences vary greatly, so too do our values, fears, dreams and aspirations.
Our life experience also changes over time, therefore so does our definition of success.
As young people, our view of success is shaped by our family, peers and teachers, as well as society and possibly religion and culture. Over time, we begin to form our own opinions which can challenge our idea of success.
However, when your view of success conflicts with the ideal portrayed by the society you live in, it can be a challenge to live by your own definition of success.
Achieve Success on Your Terms
Success can often appear to be this elusive ideal that we spend a lifetime working towards but never quite seem to fully achieve.
I believe this is because of most people are chasing someone else’s idea of success.
Like anything, success is a process. It does not depend on luck or coincidence, but rather your knowledge of the process and your commitment to executing the steps in the process.
Here are 6 steps that have helped me to achieve success on my terms:
1. Get clear
You must first get clear on what success means to you.
Having a clear picture of what you desire, is probably the single most important factor in achieving success on your terms.
Sadly, most people have no idea what they truly want. They have no clarity and when asked the question, their responses are often superficial, what someone else wants for them or what they’ve been told they should want.
Personally I’ve never been interested in the “Hip Hop” lifestyle – you know fancy cars, designer handbags and shoes and dining in the most exclusive restaurants.
This is not my dream. However, as a huge fan of Hip Hop, Rap and RnB music, it could be easy for me to be sucked into thinking that this lifestyle was the definition of success, and that until my life looked like a music video, I could not be considered successful.
Even if the Hip Hope lifestyle is your idea of success, really get clear what exactly you’re attracted by. Is it the designer handbag – or is it the financial freedom to buy a designer handbag if you so choose? There is a huge difference and nine times out of ten, it’s never about the physical item, it’s normally about what it represents.
You gain clarity by asking, and answering lots of questions about success to understand what you want, why you want it and what it will do for you.
This is not easy and is why so many find themselves striving for someone else’s definition of success, simply because they found defining it for themselves too challenging.
Introspection is key.
Once you have a clear understanding of what you want you can set goals that align with your vision. – Tweet this
2. Make a Commitment
True commitment is only possible once you have defined what success on your terms actually means and looks like.
It is challenging to commit to someone else’s image of success over a long period of time. Your commitment will always be stronger when you believe in and truly want what you’re working towards.
Commitment requires sacrifice and compromise and when you are doing so for something that doesn’t fully align with what you truly want in life, it will become a constant battle to keep moving forward.
When I left university, I followed the path to success that had been outlined to me. I joined a corporate company and began my career in IT. I had little interest in IT and no ambition to become CEO of someone else’s company.
Over time, my mental and physical well-being began to deteriorate as I struggled with working towards a vision of success that ultimately conflicted with most of core values.
At the time, I was unable to recognise it was because I was striving for what I was told success looked like, all I knew is that I was extremely unfulfilled.
I embarked on a journey of personal development and eventually I was able to get clarity about what success looked like on my terms.
Since then, I have committed to creating a life that aligns with that. I am now CEO of my own company. I’m the only employee – but that doesn’t matter to me as it was never my aim to run a multi-million pound company.
I’ve had to sacrifice my income and subsequently some of life’s “luxuries”, but again life’s luxuries are personal and for me self-sufficiency is my first priority.
To be successful on your terms, you must be committed and willing to make sacrifices and compromises. – Tweet this
3. Stay Focused
Staying focused in 2015 can be near impossible.
We are surrounded by distractions. Google, social media and email as well as our phones, friends, family and TV box sets!
The distractions are endless and it can be totally overwhelming.
I know I’m late to the party, but I’m on the last 2 episodes of Breaking Bad. Any box set pros out there will be wondering how the hell I stopped without watching the last 2 episodes of the entire series!
That’s where my willpower kicked in.
I’m working towards big goals this year and as much I want to finish the entire series – believe me I really do – I know I have made a commitment to myself and I need to get a good night’s sleep to focus at my best, so I stopped and went to bed. I think I’ll be finishing it off tonight.
My willpower alone would not have been enough. However as I’m extremely clear about what I am creating for my life and the steps it will take to achieve that vision, my willpower has an anchor.
I have a vision board and my goals written down in several places – my journal, Evernote and Zendone in order to help me maintain my focus.
I have also turned off all alerts on my phone and I ensure I sign out of all my social media accounts.
With all of today’s distractions, you need to work extra hard to maintain your focus and you will need to put strategies in place to combat the constant attempts by life to attack your focus.
Before doing anything, always ask yourself, “Does this action align with my definition of success?” – Tweet this
4. Take Action
Despite getting clear, being committed and figuring out strategies to stay focused, it is still possible for success to elude you.
If your definition of success mis-aligns with society’s image or the opinions of your peers, it can be challenging to actually start changing direction and work towards success on your terms.
You have to start taking action; specifically action that aligns with your vision of success.
It can be tempting to continue asking yourself questions and developing strategies for maintaining your focus without actually ever doing anything.
This is when fear takes over and you get stuck in analysis paralysis and procrastination.
Start small if necessary, but make sure you start. – Tweet this
I began aligning my life with my idea of success while I was still working full time at the corporate company. Initially I started reading books and articles about changing careers and researching what I could do instead and I went from there.
I volunteered, I took courses and eventually I made the leap when I was offered voluntary redundancy.
Being successful on your terms is not an overnight transformation. It’s a long-haul journey.
5. Believe in Yourself
Self-belief may be the single biggest challenge that most, if not all of us must overcome in order to achieve success on our own terms.
Once you start taking steps towards aligning your life with your vision of success, you are guaranteed to come up against obstacles.
Fear will kick in, as will self-doubt.
The nay-sayers will all have something to say – and they’ll say it more than once in lots of different ways. Sometimes it will be direct, other times it will be indirect and subliminal.
Your inner critic – you know, the voice in your head that reminds you of everything negative about yourself and your choices – starts to get louder.
Your inner critic feeds off of your limiting beliefs, making it difficult to continue believing in your idea of success and causing your self-esteem to dwindle.
My self-belief regularly takes a battering from my inner critic.
You’re not good enough. You don’t know enough. There are so many people doing this better than you.
These are just some of the things my inner critic tells me almost daily.
Our inner critics are with us for life. We can’t get rid of them so instead we have to neutralise them. – Tweet this
In the same way our idea of success is shaped by our parents, teachers, peers and society, so too are our limiting beliefs. Therefore, it takes work to ensure we are not paralysed by these beliefs that we have inherited.
I counter the opinions of my inner critic by surrounding myself with positive quotes, affirmations, people and knowledge that reminds me of my worth and what matters to me and supports the life I’m creating.
So you see it is possible to achieve success on your terms.
Sharing is Caring
I’d love to know what your vision of success looks like. Let me know in the comments section below.