From the time we are children, we are taught that we should strive to be successful. As a result, most of us spend our whole lives in the pursuit of success. However, how many of us ever take the time to identify our personal definition of success? This is so incredibly important because failure to do so makes us vulnerable to accepting someone else’s definition of success.
While I’ve always had general sense of what I deem success to be, I’ve never actually taken the time to properly define it for myself. A tip I got from a recent Jay Shetty podcast was to try defining what success means for us in each aspect of our lives. So here are my current definitions of what success looks like for me across physical, spiritual, career, financial, relationships and family dimensions.
It’s a great exercise and I really urge you to give it a try for yourself.
My days of defining physical success as looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club are over. Life is too short for drinking nasty tasting protein shakes and smashing weights all day in the gorilla pit.
Instead, I now define physical success as being in good enough condition for the next 30 years to be able to do all the activities that give me joy – such as playing sports and messing around with my kids – without being in pain or worrying about shattering my pelvis.
This means making good food choices, staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. As I’m prone to inflammation, I know I need to avoid inflammatory foods such as those containing gluten and added sugar.
I’ve also learned that when choosing my sports or physical activities, I need to think about which ones are going to enable my body to be in the best possible condition when I am 70. While I wish I could play tennis 7 days a week, I know that doing so will probably result in me needing a hip or knee replacement by 50, so that’s not going to fly. Instead, my best bet at being fully mobile in my golden years is through a combination of tennis, yoga, weight training and swimming.
I’m not a huge fan of organized religion but I believe it’s important to feel connected to something greater than myself. I therefore define success in this area as maintaining a regular mindfulness and meditation practice to help me to feel grounded, present and connected. This is also an area I feel I need to explore more so success for me right now would be consistently setting aside time each week to doing this.
Financial and career success
I completely agree with the numerous studies that find that there is a direct correlation between money and happiness, but only up to a certain point. For me that point is having enough to feel that I can afford a decent education for my children, travel a few times a year the freedom to pursue activities that are fulfilling. Finally, as my father so eloquently likes to say, having some “f*ck you money” means you’re never in a position where you have to do something you don’t want to do.
From a career perspective, my previous business success means that I really feel I have nothing left to prove to myself in this area. I now define success as being able to engage in ventures that a) I am passionate about and b) offer purpose by improving the lives of others.
Relationship (marriage) success
Having been through a divorce, I know what it feels like when a marriage doesn’t succeed (not good). I would like to think I’ve learned a lot from that, and I try to draw from these experiences 2ndtime around.
Besides having a close physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional connection, I define success in this area as fostering a supportive, caring environment where each of us feels comfortable to be completely ourselves and live our authentic lives.
I firmly believe that children lean not from what you tell them to do, but from the example that you set. So my definition of success is being a good role model for my children and then providing them with the tools and freedom to live their own authentic lives. And love, lots of love.