How do you define success?

If you are like most people, your definition of success is based on external factors. A nice house, perfect children, a trophy wife or husband, nice vacations, lots of material things, and of course, a great big salary.

What price will you pay for external success?

This is a question worth thinking about. Are you willing to work 10, 15, or 25 years at a “just a job” that you don’t really enjoy? Will all those material things make a miserable work life worth it in the end? Will you even have time to enjoy these things? Certainly, others in your family will enjoy these things. Is that enough to make it worth YOU spending all those years at the office doing meaningless work?

Will you work many years just so SOMEONE will approve of you?

Again, many of us do this as well. Your mother-in-law is proud, and your wife or husband brags about your job title at social gatherings. Does this make it worth it?

There are tradeoffs

As a public speaker and author whose life mission is to help people discover and do what they love, I can tell you there are tradeoffs. People over 40 usually know, deep inside, that their 20 years of working have met external society standards, but in many cases have not met their internal need for joy in their work.
As a college professor, I have taught thousands of students who are very focused on grades and making lots of money, but who have not been taught exactly what work FITS them best.
Both age groups, the over 40s and the students, are left confused, scared, and lost.

How do you define success from the inside out?

First, you must have a vision of what you want. What work excites you? Is there someone who you envy — someone who does similar work? If you had 50 million dollars, what work would you do right now?
Next, write down what you want. It is amazing what happens when you write down what you want. In many ways, it forces you to see your dream from a new perspective. Try it now for yourself. Write down the work you really want to do. You might write something like:

“The work I really want to do is………and the reason is………”

I have found, in my research and in my life, that when we know the reasons WHY we want something, then we can start to move towards it.

Talk to others

Many people stop short of their dreams by not talking about what they want. It almost doesn’t matter who you talk to, as long as you discuss your plans with others. They will, of course, offer their opinions; ignore them.
You are simply sharing what you have already decided to do.

Take small steps

Every success in life starts with a small step.

Let’s say you have a vision of yourself as a high school history teacher (I always thought it would interesting to dress up in the era of the period I was teaching to inspire my students). You have written down that you plan to become a teacher because this is something you enjoy, and because you believe you could make a difference in the lives of your students.

Now you start to tell people your plans. By doing this, you actually start to commit these plans to yourself, and it will be hard to turn back. You call a local school, and set up a meeting with a high school history teacher to find out exactly what you have to do next. Then you call and have a college send you enrolment papers to start a program to get the credentials you need. Now there is no turning back.

Now measure your steps

Now that you have committed to your new life, you’ll have to measure your steps. First, talk to your family, and come up with a plan to accommodate the new life you are working towards. You may have to adjust your standard of living, or maybe just pay more attention to your spending.

You’ll have to measure your progress towards your goal, and plan where you will focus next.

Learn to celebrate

You will be disappointed if you wait for a family member, or anyone else, to reward your progress. The rewards will have to come from you. I have learned that, when a person starts to live a life of integrity, this is reward enough.

You no longer have to compare yourself to others. It no longer matters who has the better house or car or spouse!!

The cycle starts over

As you make progress towards your new goals, you will continually adjust your vision to the reality you seek.

How do you define success?

When you define success as a contest to keep up with the new toys others have, you will always lose. There will always someone new to compete with. But when you do the work you love, and that FITS you, you will be happy and content inside, and just grateful that you have found your own authentic path. This is the best reward of all.

Now you will start to appreciate others without the need to compete.

Do you want to start to live to your own standards?

Start to move towards doing the work you love. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it!

As always, I’ll be cheering you on as you go

Craig Nathanson