In past articles we have looked at the definition of success and the profound effect that has on how we spend our time. Today we’re digging deeper to see how you define success.
It’s all-too-easy to spend precious years of your life working off of what other people call success, only to discover later that this wasn’t what you wanted at all.
When you know how you view success you are in sync with yourself and your values. Your time is spent on what matters most to you!
So this 3-part exercise is designed to help you discover what success means for you.
Remember, the more fully you engage in this exercise the better! So, find a quiet place, grab a piece of paper and a pencil, open your heart, and let’s get started!
1. Check Your Baggage
In this exercise you’ll go back and capture your early messages about success – the ones that you lug around unconsciously today.
First create two columns by drawing a line down the center of your paper. Label the column on the left side Successful and the column on the right side Unsuccessful.
In each column quickly list the first 5 things that come to mind based on messages you received in your past.
Whatever emerges, trust your intuition and write it down. Quite often the first things that pop up may seem puzzling. But breathe deeply and encourage yourself to move forward.
2. So, What is Success for YOU?
Now that you’ve taken a look at the baggage you carry, it’s time to open to what’s in your heart.
- So, take a fresh piece of paper and write, “I feel successful when …” across the top.
- Brainstorm from 5 to 10 endings to that sentence. Whatever comes to mind is fine. Again, don’t censor yourself. Be aware of how you feel as you write.
- Next I’d like you to prioritize each new sentence you’ve created based on how powerfully you connect with it, with 3 being most strong and 1 being least strong.
- Do this quickly and then place the items into one of three columns headed 1-Strong Connection, 2-Stronger Connection, and 3-Strongest Connection.
Remember, this isn’t about the external importance or value of the items on your list but how you feel about them. Looking at this ranked-list helps you focus even more clearly on what success looks like for you.
3. Let Go, Empower Yourself, and Make it Real
Now you have in hand your old messages about success and the list that calls to your heart. Look at both lists and highlight the elements that are in conflict.
What jumps out at you?
Maybe preparing a meal to share with family or friends is something that makes you sing inside – something you have considered doing professionally. But you also carry an old message that you should pursue a career in academia.
These are the kinds of conflicts that keep you paralyzed or send you down frustrating and unfulfilling paths.
Choose the area of conflict that holds the most energy for you.
- Now highlight the piece of baggage that is creating this conflict. (For example in our exercise above, the excess baggage is your childhood message that you should have a career in academia.)
- Visualize yourself letting it go and be aware of how you feel.
- List the gains and losses that come immediately to mind.
Letting go isn’t magic! You’ll bump into that old message again – and again. The stronger its hold on you, the more you’ll encounter it.
And as you loosen your grip on this belief from your past, you take an important step toward defining success for yourself and moving forward with purpose and clarity.
Here’s to your new understanding of success!© Copyright 2014 Paula Eder, Ph.D.