How do you define success? Have you taken the time to consider this question? If so, congratulations! You are one of the few people who have determined what motivates and inspires them to live the lives they do every day.

The Traditional Definition

In today’s culture, success is often thought of as “having something” or reaching a certain level. It is often subconsciously thought of in the context of the five P’s referred to by Ron Jenson of Future Achievement International: pleasure, prosperity, power, prestige, and position. Unfortunately, despite attaining these things, one often ends up feeling empty and unfulfilled, sometimes leading to depression. There are also often regrets at the end of a career or life. Is this truly the definition of success? I would say that it is not and that “What is success?” is a question that each person should answer for him- or herself.

Impact of Culture

There are many reasons why we often do not take the time to properly define “success.” One reason is that in our society, we are conditioned at an early age to go to school and get a great education. We are often encouraged to follow academic achievement with finding a secure and high-paying job, buying a home, and buying a nice car or other material things that the world has to offer.

There is often no real consideration of what is important to an individual. Therefore, a person may pursue an education in a field that is considered prestigious or offers the opportunity for a higher level of compensation, rather than something for which they have a passion. This could lead to disillusionment or living a life to impress others. It is critically important to think for ourselves.

How to Begin the Process of Defining Success for Yourself

Success is achievable if we take the time to define it for ourselves, and if we are intentional about aligning our idea of success with our purpose, vision, and mission. However, this is often easier said than done. We rarely consider our purpose, which directly relates to why we are on this earth. Few of us have gone through the process of thinking through a vision, which focuses on what this journey called life is or will have been about at the end. In addition, most of us do not have a personal mission statement, which indicates what we will do to live out our purpose and achieve our vision.

In my opinion, defining success starts with taking ample time for reflection. Complete the exercise of viewing life today as if you were at the end. What would you like to see at the age of 100 when reflecting on the life that you have lived? Try to clearly picture this in your mind. Then begin the process of painting that picture today. This will help align your purpose with your definition of success. After success is clearly defined, you can realize the importance of focusing your time and energy on the true priorities in your life. Your legacy may then become more important than having or doing. Moreover, you may become more focused on serving and helping others.

The Result of Defining Successful for Yourself

Defining success is a component of working on ourselves. We often work hard at our jobs, and we periodically feel a need to help others grow and change. However, we rarely work on ourselves in a concentrated and focused manner. Defining success can help us begin the process of determining why we do what we do and, ultimately, the impact our efforts have on others and the world.

The process of defining success can be life changing. It can also be the impetus for living a life of purpose and leaving a meaningful legacy.

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