I’ve been chasing success most of my life. Problem was, I’d never defined it. I’ve been dead broke, homeless, lost and depressed. I’ve been flush with cash, rich in relationships, owned a thriving company and possessed material wealth. Problem is, I didn’t see either as “success.”
According to Merriam-Webster.com’s online dictionary, success is defined as, “a : degree or measure of succeeding, or b : favorable or desired outcome.” This vague definition provides an opportunity for each of us to determine what success means in a given set of circumstances.
In 2005, I opened a small company. It was started with $15,000, hope and fear. I hoped to succeed and feared failure. The company grew slowly at first, then gathered steam, doubling it’s first-year earnings in year two. Years three and four too saw tremendous growth. Eventually, the company stabilized, with solid earnings. By the time I sold it in 2015, the business generated just under $1 million of annual revenue. Sounds successful, right?
The only problem was my failure to determine what a successful outcome was. I was too busy fearing what I could lose than enjoying the fruits of prosperity. Since I’d never defined success, I had no idea I’d obtained it.
There are two main environments in which to succeed, the external and internal. Satisfing both simulanteously is a powerful way to achieve ultimate success. Externally, you may obtain money, possessions, travel or enjoy a nice home, while internally you are lonely, friendless or scared. You might have more stuff than you’ll ever need, yet be jealous of someone else’s life.
There is also an internal measure of success, usually found in one’s level of physical health, mental wellbeing and spiritual connectedness. You might be a metaphysical guru, but have loads of health problems. You may live a life of simplicity, yet be plagued by anxiety.
What blocks you from achieving the kind of success you enjoy mentally, spiritually and physically? Do distractions affect your focus, causing you to see your fear rather than your courage? Does negative thinking cloud your mind? By identifying what blocks you from success, you can discover what you need to find it.
How will you determine the moment you reach your pinnacle? What is your measure of success? Do you strive for money, family, stuff, travel or perhaps a closer relationship with God? Is your ultimate goal in line the work you are doing to achieve it? If not, what do changes do you need to make to reach it?
I set smaller goals to meet along the way to reaching a large final achievement. Keeping me focused, they stop me from straying off the path. For example, I am building my portfolio to offer consulting and/corporate training. I plan to work with companies teaching healthy workplace relationships, conflict management, mentorship and accountability. It’s a HUGE goal for me.
When I started working on my goal, I didn’t have smaller ones in place. I had things I wanted to do to prepare, but nothing planned out. There were no short-term objectives to meet. In the beginning, my plan was to write, produce YouTube video content and hopefully get some speaking gigs.
Sounds good, right? Problem is, I had no idea how to do some of this and where to start. I failed to realize I needed a map for my journey. Smaller goals are like the little towns you pass through traveling to a large city. They are important stops along the way. Like a car needs small town gas stations, the human needs shorter term successes to maintain the desire to obtain the end goal.
Don’t keep asking yourself why you can’t be happy when everyone else is, wondering what they have you don’t. Maybe it’s their own definition of success. A well-crafted objective with solid actions steps, a timeline, a plan that helps them get where they truly want to be?
Today it’s your turn. Stop waiting. Define your success and grasp it! Do the work, live your dream and feel satisfied with a job well done. What are you waiting for?
Originally published at medium.com