What Success Really Looks Like

What does success really look like? Many believe success is a life full of finer things – a fancy car, a big house, an impressive job title, and an attractive spouse. You might reassess your definition of success when you learn that people who have accumulated all those things are no happier than anyone else. Why? Because these things do little to enhance the quality of a life.

The achievements listed above serve one purpose: to impress others. Living in a large house usually means spending 80% of your time in 20% of the rooms. A $20,000 car gets you where you need to go in the same amount of time as one that costs $80,000. And beauty? It’s fleeting.

In the western world, success is far too focused on appearances and not enough on what makes you happy. You can’t find happiness by trying to impress others. 

Redefine Success for Yourself

According to Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener (2005), numerous studies show that happy people tend to be successful across multiple domains in life. That includes work performance, health, income, friendship, and even marriage. Sounds better than a fancy car, doesn’t it?

There are some things to consider if you’re seeking a more successful life defined by happiness. My suggestion is to start with passionEverything begins to fall into place when you know your true calling and make it central to your life. What is your ultimate goal? Write a novel, raise a family, see the world, or start a non-profit?

Now think about your career. The money is important, of course, since you’ll need to earn enough to pay your bills and pursue your dream. But you won’t be happy if you don’t like what you’re doing. Especially since you’ll do it for 8 or more hours a day for 40 years. Choose a career you’ll enjoy.

You can make even more magic in your life if you merge your passion with your career. If writing is your calling, for example, look at career choices that are related to writing – as an editor or as a marketing professional.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”  – Jim Rohn

Where and How You Live

You have choices when it comes to living accommodations, and those choices can either support or impede your goals. A home that is too big might take up too much time to maintain. Or it may require too many financial resources relative to your income. You might have a cleaning or lawn care service to help and managing them would be a drain on your time and focus.

It’s not just the size that matters (although I was happier in a 2-bedroom apartment than I was in a 6-bedroom custom home.) Consider the differences in cost and lifestyle in the city, country, or suburbs, how many bedrooms you really need, and what would be best suited for pursuing your passion.

And don’t forget life’s greatest and most valuable gift: time. As you structure your life, think about how much free time you need to pursue your passion, spend time with family and friends, enjoy hobbies, stay active, or attend cultural events. A successful life means having the time to do the things that matter to you, and you would be wise to consider your career choices accordingly.

Protect your time as much as possible because we only get a finite amount. Limiting your non-essential activities will help make space for the free time you desire. Avoid joining clubs, committees, and other voluntary activities that don’t add sufficient quality or joy to your life.

A Successful Life

A truly successful life is one that allows you to experience all of the things you consider to be most important. Those accomplishments won’t be the same for everyone. When you don’t allow society to determine the definition of success, you get to decide what matters most. Once you do, be intentional about creating a life that supports those things.

It can take bravery to find and follow your own path, especially when you’re going down a road less traveled, but it will be well worth it. And I will walk beside you if you need help discovering which version of success will lead to your happily ever after. Let’s connect.

Lisa L. Baker - Certified Personal, Career, Success and Life Coach

Lisa L. Baker is a professional life coach, career strategist, and keynote speaker. Lisa is the founder of Ascentim – a Maryland-based coaching practice that utilizes a unique G.R.O.W. process to help clients gain clarity, realize new possibilities, overcome obstacles, and win at life. Lisa shows high-performing professionals how to Level Up and Live the Life of Their Dreams.

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