A client once told me that she has issues with the word “success”. She explained that to her, it smacks of stressed-out stock market brokers and old men in board meetings, smoking cigars. I laughed and asked her what was so bad about that, if it’s what these people want?
Her answer was revealing: “There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not an idea I relate to.”
It was revealing because it showed that the only problem she had with the idea was her rather rigid notions of what success constitutes. She had a point, too: Most people will answer along the same lines if you ask them how they define “success”.
I’m here today to challenge these ideas. Of course, we live in a world where certain expectations have become the norm, and achievement in education and the corporate world are part of it. However, this doesn’t mean success can only be achieved within these parameters.
Why is this relevant for you? Because it provides you with a different way of evaluating your life. I hope it’ll also give you confidence in creating a successful future, even if it doesn’t conform to society’s concepts.
Sign up for Wild Spirits News for insider updates, weekly Coaching magic, resources and exclusive offers! Simply fill in the form:
The dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. Isn’t that interesting? “An” aim, not any particular one. Not riches or a great career.
For Stephen Covey, it’s up to the individual. He recommended thinking of what you’d like people to say at your funeral. That’s the best indication of what success means to you.
In one of the personal development workshops I’ve visited over the years, I heard the definition which makes most sense to me personally: Success is moving towards your goals in all areas of your life. This of course assumes that you have (written) goals and review them regularly, because that’s the most effective way to keep track of everything and measure progress.
In a way, my approach includes Covey’s, because your goals should of course be aligned with your purpose and your overall vision for your life. This is also were passion comes in: Whatever lights you up, should feature prominently in your goals. It all fits together.
Here’s how you can make it work in your own life.
Time to get personal
Definitions aside, it was a huge relief when I discovered how open the term “success” really is. I don’t have any particular hunger for outside validation, but it’s nice to know even just for myself that I’m doing something right.
So what’s success to you? What are you accomplishing, which goals are you progressing towards? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, it’s time to go back to basics and write down some goals. I firmly believe this is the most basic, fundamental step towards success.
The next step sounds a little wishy-washy, while it’s actually the most accurate measure I know of. It the joy-and-passion meter! How often do you feel excitement and passion? How many of the six main areas of life – health, job/business, finances, relationships, self – light you up with joy?
In my opinion, the best measure of success is thriving. At first glance, the joy and passion you feel might not have anything to do with you moving towards your goals, but they are deeply connected. Here’s why:
If you don’t have goals in each of the above six areas, review them regularly and take steps towards achieving them, any passion or joy you feel will be short-lived like the proverbial flash in a pan. For joy to become a steady flame, it needs to be fuelled by regular, consistent action.
When you progress towards your goals, being lit up becomes your natural state. The trick is realising that joy and passion aren’t static; they need constant evolvement. It doesn’t matter if you change your goals on the fly. In fact, achieving your goals is almost secondary to what you experience along the way of working towards them. Even if you end up changing your mind and going for a new, different goal, nobody can ever take away the experiences and the growth you’ve gained in the meantime.
When you keep evolving along whatever lights you up, you can’t help but thrive. You’ll feel alive and you’ll be in constant motion. Other people will be drawn to your flame and swept along in your joy, and these are the things which make you the greatest success you can be.
“Passion” is a buzz-word right now. Wherever you look, there’s another guru telling you how you need to pursue your passion above everything else. The pursuit of passion is so relentless, it can make you feel exhausted just thinking about it.
And here I am calling myself a “Passions Priority Coach”. Why’s that?
Well, whenever there’s a lot of hype around something, there’s usually a reason why it became so popular in the first place. Passions are a case in point. I’m far from telling you that you need to feel passionate 24/7 or else you fail at life, but I am telling you to take a good look at the amount of joy and passion present in your days. They might just be the key to a lot more things than you ever suspected.
Sign up for Wild Spirits News for free weekly Coaching magic, resources and exclusive offers! Simply fill in the form:
What’s a “passion”, anyway?
The way I define “passion” is simple: It’s anything that lights you up. Your passion is that thing you could do all day, that makes you forget time. You feel inspired, pumped, wired, or simply very, very content.
Your passion could be an art or craft. It could be music, dancing, reading, writing. For some, their passion is a hobby or a particular interest they love pursuing. And remember that you don’t necessarily just have one passion. A lot of us are multi-passionate, or multi-potentialists, meaning that we have different interests which light us up, and they may change over the years.
Passion or success/money!
When I speak about passions, it’s easy to get agreement from people. Everybody wants to follow their passions, don’t they? It’s self explanatory.
The reason why I’m doing the work I do, is that most people see passions as something of an afterthought. They have their work or business, which is ideally related to a passion, but it’s a serious undertaking and it has to come first. Passions are relegated to the 30 minutes on a Sunday evening when the “real” work is done.
And that, right there, is the issue. People focus on success and “making a living” – or a fortune, even – and neglect what living is actually all about: enjoyment. Passion. Love. The moments that stay with you.
Centre or periphery?
You may well argue that you still need to pay the bills, and a business can make you feel fulfilled, too. You are absolutely right, of course. I’m not for one moment suggesting that you give up on the practicalities of life in favour of your passion or passions. My point is about focus.
You see, something happens to our souls when we realise that joy, passion, the expansive feeling of doing exactly what we love most, are really what life is all about. If we start putting our main focus on our passions, a shift happens. It’s like our DNA changes, like every cell in our bodies rearranges itself in a new, lighter, joyful pattern.
This doesn’t crowd out necessities like paying bills; on the contrary, once we have our priorities right, time seems to expand and “busy” becomes a thing of the past. I see it time and time again with my Coaching clients. They gush about co-incidences, serendipitous meetings, and new levels of success in jobs or businesses.
The highest form of Self Care
The truth is that catering to our passions, making them front and centre in our lives, is the ultimate act of Self Care. It leads to our filling up with joy and love, to the point where we overflow and this love seeps into everything else we do, until it permeates every area of our lives.
Yes, this does include success, careers and businesses, especially if we love what we do. It can, however, infuse even the most menial work with a new sense of meaning and purpose. Ever since I made the shift to passions-centered living, every day has become meaningful. I no longer live for the weekend. And every time I stop to think about my life, I’m immediately flooded with a deep, heartfelt gratitude, a feeling so profound it occasionally moves me to tears.
There’s only one feeling that beats this profound joy, and that’s witnessing the same joy grow in others. It’s why I am a Passions Coach! I can think of no greater privilege than to be around a fully realised human being, and having a hand in bringing this about is the best job I can think of.
Remember what used to make you happy. Think of the thing you always wanted to try. When will now be the right time to pursue them? Dare it, and watch your life unfold.