Defining Your Own Version of Success

Apr 6, 2016

I’m one of those people who has the tendency to always want more. No matter what I’ve done or what I’ve accomplished, I’m always trying to find ways to take things to the next level. And, while I believe that perseverance has allowed me to achieve numerous things in life, it can also be downright exhausting. Never feeling satisfied or content is a surefire way to burnout quickly.

Lately, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about success. What is it, really? Most days, I feel pretty successful—that is, until I start looking around and fall into the trap of comparing myself to others. Yes, I’m proud of that piece I published. But, when I login to LinkedIn and see a colleague just had an article run in The New York Times, suddenly I’m beating myself up—rather than celebrating my own accomplishment.

In an effort to boost my spirits and save myself from insanity, I’ve begun to challenge standard definitions of success. Rather than being directly tied to wealth or even fame, I make attempts to think of it in totally different contexts. There’s some sort of old quote that says something about happiness equaling success, and I’ve found myself subscribing to that philosophy more and more.

So, today, I thought I’d lift us all up by sharing a few of the tips and tactics I use to remind myself that I truly am successful—regardless of what my resume or bank account has to say about it. Believe me, success extends far past your wallet and brag-worthy bylines.


1. CELEBRATE YOUR WINS. I know you’ve been here before—you get so wrapped up in everything that needs to get done on any given day, you feel like you hardly have time to take a deep breath. You check things off your to-do list and accomplish projects, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. But, are you taking any time to even acknowledge how much ass you’re kicking?

Oftentimes, we have the tendency to feel unaccomplished and unsuccessful, simply because we spend all of our time and energy focusing on the areas where we need to improve—and we pay absolutely no mind to the things we’ve done really well.

So, I encourage you to take a few minutes here and there to celebrate your successes, whether they’re big or small. Maybe you landed that freelance client you really wanted or perhaps you finally conquered that pesky task that’s been hanging out on your to-do list for weeks. Whatever it is, give yourself a high five. You deserve it!

2. RECOGNIZE PROGRESS. What’s one great way to feel successful? By completing a goal, of course. However, if you’re anything like me, you have the tendency to set these lofty, far-reaching goals that you might never even accomplish. And, if you eventually do miraculously reach that finish line? Well, you’ll only think of more things that need to get done.

However, you can quickly shift your perspective by thinking of progress as success in and of itself. I’ll save you from one of those cliché, “It’s about the journey, not the destination” pep talks. But, the point still rings true.

Progress is worth feeling good about. It means you’re taking steps in the right direction, and that’s something that should be recognized and celebrated!

3. END EACH DAY FEELING GRATEFUL. This is something I’ve been doing for years. Each night when I’m relaxing in bed, I like to think of five things from that day that made me feel incredibly grateful. It could be something small—like that evening walk Ty and I took with the dog or those delicious ice cream sundaes we whipped together while watching Netflix. Or, it could be something bigger, like scoring a great freelance gig or finishing up a big project around our house.

This is an effective tactic for me, as I’m someone who will usually doze off only thinking of the millions of things I need to conquer the following day. By taking some time to reflect on my day and all of the things that made me smile, I fall asleep while being reminded of how full of joy and love my life is!

4. AVOID COMPARISONS. This is where things get tricky. It’s all too easy to think of someone else’s success as your failure. But, that’s simply not true. Other people are allowed to do great things, without it meaning bad things for you.

It’s important to remember that your own success and career path isn’t contingent upon someone else’s. They aren’t interdependent. So, don’t get so hung up on what your old college roommate’s friend is doing, and just focus on making progress yourself.

What tips and tricks do you have to remind yourself that you’re successful?

Until next time!