A common theme at this time of year is taking stock of your life.  A popular area to focus on is your professional life.  You may decide it’s time to change jobs, retire, or strive for more balance between your work and home life.  There are a number of changes that you may want to make to improve the quality of your life.    

As you go through this type of assessment, how do you know what needs to change?  Are you unhappy and just KNOW you have to change something?  Or, do you have success criteria defined which shows you the gaps? 

During my last year in Corporate America, I mentioned to my manager’s manager that I had a successful career at the company.  He looked at me and sort of snickered.  Then he said something like ‘You think YOU’VE been successful here?’  I suspect in his eyes, I wasn’t successful because I wasn’t in the upper echelon of the corporation after being at the firm for 19+ years.  However, in my eyes I was successful because I was:

  • making a decent salary
  • learning new things
  • making a contribution to the firm and
  • keeping ‘normal’ work hours. 

At the time, these things were components of how I defined success. 

Sometimes, we adopt another person’s definition of success and try very hard to make it ‘fit’ us.  A couple of years ago, a friend called me after starting a new job.  She had a great powerful title and a big salary, but she KNEW after being on the job for only a couple of weeks that it just wasn’t the right job for her.  She felt awful because her husband was so excited about her new job and he felt that it was great that she was finally being acknowledged with the commanding title and large salary.  She was torn…should she stay or should she go?  As we talked it became very clear to her that she had adopted her husband’s definition of success.  Once she realized that, she came up with her own definition of success, got in touch with her recruiter, and found a job that positioned her to meet HER success criteria!

So…how do you define success?  Is it a title, a salary, a role, a big house, a contribution, ‘normal’ work hours or something else?  Is it really YOUR definition?  Or, is it your spouses’, parents’, or best friends’?  Does thinking about your success criteria make you smile, give you energy, and motivate you?  If so, you’re probably on the right track!

Oh, one more thing about creating your definition of success.  It’s likely that the one you create today may change in the future.  You may want to revisit your definition of success periodically and update it to more accurately reflect where you are right at that moment in time.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to think about and jot down your own personal definition of success. 

I wish you much success as you strive to make YOUR definition a reality!

Helen Kosinski
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