Technically, defining success is simple. Should you look it up in your dictionary it states it is "the achievement of something planned or desired." Got it. End of story? Not quite.
Who cares what the dictionary says... what exactly is your definition of success? Before you can achieve success, you should define what success means to you. Unless youíve a focused vision of what success is to you, you cannot work toward it.
Success means different things to everyone. For some individuals, monetary reward is the measure of success. Others have several definitions of success; they measure it across a number of areas: career, health, spiritual, emotional, time, or financial. For instance, one can achieve success in a career but not emotionally.
To discover your personal definition of success, you need to dig deep within yourself and reflect your values in life. Can you identify your strengths and weaknesses? What are the ones that are crucial to you? By answering these questions you may then come closer to your own definition of success. Bear in mind that this can be an extended process. It's possible you'll not get the answers so quickly, but thatís alright. Define your measure of success, 1 element at a time.
Letís take your career just as one example. What would your definition of success be for your career? If you're an insurance agent, is it achieving the next highest level of contract? As an SGA, is it financial prosperity and security? What is success to a Public Relations Professional? Dig deep inside yourself to see your own strengths and weaknesses. Which would assist you to achieve success? Which of the weaknesses is a barrier, and does it go against your values?
To me, I value time with my family, however, my work requires me to work many nights and weekends. I need to adjust my very own definition success and decide which should take priority.
When defining your success, remember this crucial thing: success is a journey. It has multiple peaks and not one ultimate pinnacle. One success builds on another. Setbacks and mistakes will allow you to build success. At different periods of life, success is defined differently. With your career, your success could be defined by exceeding your job requirements or receiving a promotion or a certain income level.
One of my definitions of success in my career at this point often is the number of people on my team that I mentor to higher levels within the Company. Once they achieve a specific level of skill and knowledge and are respected by you, Iíve achieved a significant quantity of success so far as my very own career is concerned.
Itís sort of intense, but examine how Ralph Waldo Emerson defines success:
"The definition of success - To laugh much, to win respect of intelligent persons and the affections of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give oneís self; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm, and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded."
Now Iíve to admit that Iíve heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson. But I do not know much about him, and for sure have not read a large amount of his stuff. But Ralphís definition... I couldnít trust more. Good job, Ralph!
In any event, you can see success is truly in the eye of the beholder. It takes on both short-term and long-term achievements and could be significant as well as insignificant. But it is what you are making it to be. Set a goal, achieve a goal... and be successful!