What point does a person cross to be labeled as successful?
Here are two stories. Let’s see if you can determine who is more successful.
Hailey is the CEO of a Forbes 500 company. She drives to the office in her Lexus and checks her to-do list on her iPhone 12. She has a 7-bedroom house and enjoys lounging by the pool with her picture-perfect family and friends.
Yearly, she takes 3 months off to tour exotic countries and learn about their cultures.
Jim works 9 to 5 as a maintenance worker. He drives his truck to his clients’ houses, fixing whatever it is they need fixed. He doesn’t care about the latest technology; the last time he bought a new device was in 2005.
When not at work, he spends his time with his 3 children and cares for his garden.
Hailey is more successful, right?
She has the envy-worthy career, the money, and the perfect family—what more is there to want?
Jim, on the other hand, labors the days away and spends the weekends with his children just like everyone else.
Here’s the catch:
They are both successful.
Both Hailey and Jim adore their lives and wouldn’t want to change a thing. Neither of them is worried about paying the bills. They have supporting families whom they love to spend time with and have activities they enjoy doing.
You don’t think Jim is successful, though—do you?
His life is so basic. It’s a life anyone could have. There’s nothing special about it.
But you see, Jim doesn’t care about your opinion.
He has fulfilled his vision of success. Yours doesn’t have to match his.
You can reach every checkpoint in someone else’s definition of success and not be happy. So many people have pursued the “path to success”, only to realize years later that that’s not what they want from life.
They spent their best years walking in the wrong direction because of what others told them life should look like—be it their parents, teachers, or friends.
You can change the story.
You can decide right now what your success will look like and how you can attain it.
No matter what stage of your life you’re in, you can shift gears and evade the regrets many others have.
All you have to do is craft a definition of success that is uniquely your own.
The Success Scam
You’ve been cheated.
They sang you lies until you believed there was no other way.
“Oh deary, doctors are the most successful ones out there. Who wouldn’t want to be one of them?”
“Follow the money. If you have money, you have everything. Just look at how happy your uncle has been since his law firm took off.”
Sometimes, these lies come from those who genuinely care. By feeding you these definitions of success, they are trying their best to guide you toward a happy, prosperous life. Other times, the ones giving you the advice are doing it for their own gains.
The fitness industry is a terrific example. While a healthy body weight is essential, they take it a step too far, convincing you that you will only be good-looking if you have a six-pack.
Take a moment to think about what you were told about success. Where did those ideas come from? Go deeper and consider how those influences affected your life choices.
That’s not it…
This is only one means through which the success scam takes ahold of your life.
You are programmed to determine your worth by how others see you. If others think you are accomplished, then you must be. If your neighbor has a better car, you should work harder.
We look at other’s perceptions of us for validation. In our journey to greatness, we choose one option over another based on how high it will place us in the eyes of others—compromising our desires in the process.
Let’s look at the other ways success can be measured.
The Metrics of Success
Success can mean a lot of things to different people. Yet, every definition of success can be put into one of the two categories: external or internal.
External metrics of success are ones that can be measured and viewed. Your wealth and your career are external metrics. You can base your success on this and so can others. You could say, I’ll be successful when I make $10,000 per month.
Internal metrics are entirely subjective. No one but you will ever know you’ve attained them. Examples of internal metrics are how satisfied you are at work or how loved you feel in your family.
These metrics are applicable to all your life aspects.
- External metric: position
- Internal metric: work satisfaction
- External metric: meeting a great person and having kids
- Internal metric: how your family makes you feel
- External metric: your blood pressure or weight
- Internal metric: your energy levels
This raises the question:
Which metric is more important—external or internal?
I bet you’re expecting me to say internal, but that’s not the case.
Both metrics are important.
Imagine having a job you love. You’re happy when you go to work every morning. Then, you come back home, and the lights won’t turn on. You had spent $300 fixing your car, so you couldn’t pay the electric bill. Even though you love your job, it doesn’t pay the bills, so you won’t be satisfied with your life.
On the flip side, you could be a top executive in your workplace. You’re paid well. You have the position to be labeled as successful. Yet, you hate what you do. You hate the people you work with. You go home drained and unhappy.
The first scenario has the internal metrics and lacks the external ones, whereas the second meets the external metrics but not the internal ones.
Where Success Matters
Success isn’t just about your career. You can have a successful family life and social life. You can be successful health-wise and emotionally, too.
Don’t chase one area and ignore the others. You’ll see people all the time who are successful in their careers, but their personal life is a mess. Don’t be one of them.
Aim toward success in multiple areas of your life. Don’t spread yourself thin, though.
Choose only the areas that you care about. Prioritize them and find the right balance.
Defining What Success Means to You
Now you know why you need your own definition of success and what metrics to measure it with, it’s time to define what success means to you.
I’ve created a worksheet for you to follow along. Download it here.
What 3-5 life aspects will you base your success on?
What areas of your life are most important to your happiness?
When achieved in these areas, you should be able to confidently say you are successful.
You may include career, family, and another aspect unique to you. If those aren’t your priorities, contemplate to discover what is. What would you not be able to live without?
What does success look like in those aspects?
What do you want to achieve in each of those aspects? What line do you cross to deem yourself successful?
For each aspect, define internal and external metrics. Remember both are critical to your satisfaction.
Avoid jumping to the first metrics that come to mind. These are the predefined metrics you’ve been taught. Instead, visualize what your life will look like when you are at the top of the mountain. What do you feel? What do you have?Download The Worksheet
Your Life. Your Success.
Success doesn’t look the same for everyone. If you spend your life following the path to somebody else’s definition, you’ll reach and be unsatisfied. Like putting on your grandma’s socks, it just won’t feel right.
Your definition of success now might not even match your definition 5 years from now. Success is subjective, and it changes as you do.
Decide for yourself what you want your life to look like and what will make you happy.
Life is a journey; make sure you’re headed in the right direction.