Paradigm Shifter #6: Define what “success” means to you (not for somebody else)
On a personal level, we all know people who are very satisfied, happy, and successful in their careers – yet feel like failures during family holidays when they are interrogated as to aspects of their personal lives.
On a corporate level, one company’s vision of “success” might require global domination, while another company views “success” in terms of its reputation as a thought leader in its field.
Our frantic race to “have it all” (even if we don’t really want it all) is a recipe for disillusionment and burnout.
Abraham Maslow researched self-actualized individuals who happily committed enormous amounts of time and energy because the outcomes were closely aligned with what was personally important to them (not necessarily someone else). These individuals chose not to “have it all,” but instead focused on what was important to them. Although burnout had not yet been identified at the time of Maslow’s research, these self-actualized individuals did not display the 3 precursors to burnout (frustration, anger, and apathy).
It takes courage to make a definitive decision on what your personal success would look like – it takes even more courage to then act in ways that are aligned with that image of success. Without this compelling vision to drive your activities, frustration and burnout can result from:
- Chasing after goals that others want (even if you don’t)
- Being reactive (rather than proactive) in the direction your life is taking
- Taking actions that violate your personal values and ethics
- Feeling frustrated and unfulfilled no matter regardless of others’ views of your “success”
- Not enjoying what you’ve accomplished
How to Create Your Personal Definition of Success: Decide not only what you want, but also why you want it. Your personal definition of success should include tangible and intangible outcomes. Tangible outcomes might be material items (e.g., car, home, etc.), while intangible outcomes represent the emotional and value-driven aspects relating to your success. It may not be easy, but deciding will simplify your life by keeping things in perspective and better focusing your energies.
Case Study: A small high tech firm made an intentional decision not to expand, but to keep the firm under 10 employees. Sales revenue was not the driving force, but rather quality of work and quality of life. As a result, they were selective as to the types of projects that they accepted and very satisfied to profitably occupy a small segment of a specialized niche within their industry.
Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout: Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources. An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI. To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com.