But the reason I ask you it now (and to encourage you to think about what it really means) is because it’s a question I’ve been trying to answer with Lee. It’s something we were talking about a lot last week, trying to put our fingers on what it is we want for our futures, individually, and discussing the ways we think we can achieve it together.
To give you a bit of context, we started talking about what success might look like in terms of our careers. But, as we delved deeper into that conversation, ‘success’ in our careers seemed closely linked with success insofar as our health is concerned, our relationship with one another, our families (present and future), our education, our spirituality/faith and so on. So, don’t worry if you feel a bit lost for words if you’re trying to answer a question as huge as “what does success look like?”. It’s a big one, after all.
For some of us, success looks like a high salary, a high title or prestige. We can measure it in the cars we drive, the spare cash in our bank accounts, or the security of our savings. It’s tied up in the homes we live in, the clothes we wear and the places we go on holiday. And all of those things are perfectly valid, and fulfilling for some of us, even if not everyone.
For others, it might look like time well spent. Time filled with whatever and whoever we like. It can take the form of sustainability – a way of spending our days in a way that doesn’t burn us out or consume our best selves. Or perhaps some of us measure success in the service we do for others, and the value we give beyond our what’s in our own self-interest.
For others, it might look like the way we feel when we’re doing something. You know – like that window of ‘being’ where we are so totally immersed in what we’re doing that time slips away. That state of being where nothing distracts us; a feeling of being both suspended and in motion at once, (and if you’re wondering about why I give that particular example, it’s because it’s the feeling I experience while I’m writing something I’m really into. Is there a word for that?).
The point I’m making is this: success looks like something different for each of us. Yours may well look like a promotion to the top, recognition for your hard work, and a year-on-year pay rise. For someone else, success might be a day spent without clock-watching, or spending precious hours with a community, children, friends or family.
So if we really want to be ‘successful’? Well, perhaps we start by figuring out what it looks like to each of us. For a little inspiration, here’s what it looks like to some of my Instagram friends:
@wanderluceblog “For me, success means having a business I’m proud of that supports my slow living lifestyle with stacks of time for my husband, dog and self-care”.
@er_pelletier ” For me, success means doing work that makes me excited to get up in the morning…rarely getting that bummed out Sunday feeling about having to work the next day. I would love to work for myself, and have the freedom to be a stay-at-home Mom”.
@mayintrent ” I think for me to be successful would be to feel proud of the life I lived when I get to the end of it. If I ever reach my grandma’s age I would like to look back and say: it was worth it!”.
@amyameldi “think for me, success is feeling content with my life and the choices I’ve made and to have shared that with people, family and friends”.
@wnwrote “I think I feel like success is when I receive recognition. Even if it’s the smallest thing, like a well-made cup of tea, if someone expresses their approval then that is success to me”.
@homewithaheart “Success for me would be about being proud of myself and not feeling the need to always compare myself with others. I guess in a word….contentment”.
@eviewilders “Success for me Flora is feeling happy and that I couldn’t have done anything else to achieve what I’ve achieved. I think recognition is also a sign of success so if someone says thank you or I get promoted or if someone says well done etc. I think it’s measured differently by everyone 🙂 my ultimate success will be when I get to where I want to be”.
@appletreebarn “Success for me is much more of short term….it’s the Friday night win…. a productive week at work, the promise of a lie-in, washing machine/tumble drier/dishwasher all filled and whirring away and a meal that keeps everyone happy! And maybe a glass of wine 😉”.
@gingertonicbotanicals “Carrying a perpetual feeling of gratitude with me, every day, for the work I get to do and the people I get to serve. At the end of every day, gratitude feels like joy, and daily joy is my measure of success”.
@secretmaggiemay “In my opinion, success means happiness”.
So tell me, please (even if you’re not 100% confident in your response right now), what do you think success might look like for you? Or at the least, what does it definitely not look like?