I was interviewed on a podcast on the topic of success recently. Much like most of the meaningful events of my life, I had a very impromptu response to the question on how I define success. I believe when it comes to defining individual success, it can be a very personal journey. Defining career success is not a one size fits all. I was not as surprised by my answer when I reflected on it because for me, it’s been true. Finding what motivates and makes you happy can be a difficult process because you can be so afraid of making the wrong choice. Digging past your fear, requires quiet contemplation, focus, and a willingness to be vulnerable. Being self-aware helps you weed out what you want from what you don’t want in your life and better enables you to hone in on how you personally define success.
When I look at all of the many opportunities in my life I can say I was just lucky, the timing was right or, I deliberately, if not subconsciously, steered myself to my desired course. You might ask how you can move yourself in an entirely new direction when you’ve been on the same path for 20 years?
The process starts with three easy words that I call the “3 Simple A’s to Defining Success”:
1- You’ve got to Ask: Asking yourself what your ideal work life would look like is the easiest way to start. It could be as simple as “I want to work 3 days a week and earn $5000 and work close to home.” That’s it. That’s all. Nothing more is required unless you feel the need to be more specific like, “I want to work 3 days a week, earn $5000 a week and work with people I love and find the work exciting.” You can keep going until you get it right. Whatever it is, whether your goal towards defining a successful career is achieving a certain “work-life balance,” or you just want to make more money, how you ask for what you want defines how you will get what you want, every time, no exceptions, I promise.
2- You’ve got to wait for the Answer: Here comes the hard part, once you’ve asked, you’ve got to be patient for the answer. It will come and maybe not in the exact way you suspected, but trust me the answer to your ask will reveal itself to you and it won’t take years! The trick here is not to jump at everything that appears to resemble the ask. So maybe it’s you have to work 4 days instead of 3 days a week but you have the ability to make more money, or the people are great but the commute is a little longer than 5 minutes-it’s okay, that’s why they call it a process. Your free will and ability to choose will guide you in the right direction every time, once again, no exceptions, I promise.
3-Now it’s time to take Action: Once you get to this point, it’s time to move. I don’t mean go for a run, I mean move and take action. Some people get stuck at this point, they think they have figured out what they want and they keep asking themselves the same questions over again and insist on getting everyone else’s point of view before making a decision and taking action. I refer to this as “analysis paralysis”. Your next steps are critical in order for you to put into action what you have desired. You can’t get it wrong. If you think you know what you want and you’ve figured out the answer, then making a move when an opportunity presents itself even if you are not sure how the story will end is the leap of faith you need to have in order to come close to achieving the kind of success you want.
Having enough self-awareness to realize even though you think you may have figured out what makes you happy, it’s okay to make a change. Circumstances in your life are ever changing. What works for you today maybe different for you 3 years from now and that’s ok too. Trusting you know what you want, when you want it and what makes you happy is the first stop on the A train towards career success.
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