Many movies, television shows, and news stories show the pinnacle of success as making lots of money.
And that’s how our society gauges our success. Not “Your painting is so beautiful,” but “how much can you sell it for?” Your friend follows up your gift of a handknitted bracelet by saying, “Oh! I love it! You could make a bundle if you sold these.” We gasp at the stories on Antiques Roadshow of people discovering lamps at yard sales with values in the thousands of dollars, no matter how ugly they are.
I allowed that measurement of success to control my life for decades. And then I realized that I could create my own definition of success. A definition that didn’t include making money the center of my existence.
(Not that money isn’t important. Part of our existence is an economic one, but money doesn’t have to be the center of our lives.)
We each get to choose how we see our success. Most of us have dreams and goals that are so ingrained that we can spit them out on command. But what do those dreams and goals really mean for you? When was the last time you inquired whether those dreams and goals still fit the life you want to live?
One of the exercises I ask each client to perform early on in our work together is to draw a picture of their perfect workday. What does it look like? When do you get up? What do you smell? How do you feel? Who is there? What activities do you engage in? Describe the day in detail.
Once they have their picture of their perfect day, we look at their picture of success together. This picture usually includes familial and financial contentment, as well as artistic and creative success.
And from there, we begin our journey together to that contented success. We identify what parts of their life already resemble that picture. Then we chip away the parts of their life that don’t fit that picture like da Vinci removing the chips of marble that weren’t his sculpture.
Looking inside yourself for your own unique picture of success unlocks the real possibility of achieving it.