I have been a "successful" freelance graphic designer for the past 12 years. My personal definition of success has changed over that period of time as I have evolved and matured as a person. Sometimes my idea of success fits with society's version and other times I am walking a lonely road all by myself. I can confidently say as I type this, that I have defined success on my own terms and I am living a "successful" life.
Here are three simple steps how I have defined my own success.
1. DEFINE IT
Sit down and define what YOUR idea of success looks like. I would recommend stepping away from the computer and all your tech devices as you do this. Don't look at what success is "supposed" to look like. Your definition may be in total opposition of someone else...and that's perfectly alright.
Here are some brainstorming examples to get you started:
• financial - monthly / quarterly / yearly income / pay the bills / add to savings
• freedom - you get to decide when and what you do with your time
• more white space - build in time for your brain and soul to rest
• better work life balance
• certain number of hours of sleep per night
• leave your full time job to be a stay-at-home mom
• being able to afford name brand food or clothing
• being present for my children's events & passions
• never having a boss again
• showing up for friends & family more
• meditate every morning
• more time to pursue your side hustle
• making your side hustle your main hustle
• giving back and serving others
• regular healthy eating
• sticking to a morning routine
• scheduling some time of silence per week
• increased analytics / increased impact on your tribe
• being able to inspire and empower others
• confronting a fear and defeating it
• promotion within your company
• finding your purpose / using your God given talents
• helping the less fortunate rise in some way
• courageously sharing your ideas in the conference room / blog post
• travel / adventures
• time to explore your creative passions / hobbies / curiosities
• leaving a certain legacy
• exercise in the middle of the day / x times per week
• how many hours a day / week / month / year you work
• number of clients you have
• retirement at a certain age
The options are endless, but you must define what success looks like for you. My success looks like never having a boss again, only designing for women entrepreneurs to empower them and help them rise, and freedom with my time. My definition is not about monetary numbers, but more about how I feel at the end of the day.
You have to be willing to stand by your definition and sometimes be willing to stand apart. Sometimes your version will not feel warm and fuzzy. It might feel isolating and uncomfortable. People you love and respect might not understand it or question you. Your inner critic might have a field day in your head and cause you to doubt, but stand firm. Be true to yourself. Have confidence in what is right for you. Stay your own path.
2. VISUALIZE IT
Keep your success goals close to you. Journal them. Collage them. Make a Pinterest board. Make them visual in some way. My husband and I had a date night and we collaged what success looked like to us. We literally clipped magazines and used our daughter's glue sticks to attach words onto card stock. Our boards are taped to the office wall right next to my computer. I can glance over and have a visual reminder of how we defined success for our family. It helps me stay the course, remember what is important.
3. BUILD IT
You have defined your success. You have visualized what it will look like for you. Now as author, speaker, philanthropist and all around awesome guy Bob Goff says, "Land the plane." Stop thinking about it and put it into action.
Build a life you are excited to live! Ask yourself, "I feel happiest when _______?" "How can I make that happen more in my life?" What do I need to do today to feel good?
Do you need to pick up a side job in the field you are interested in to pursue a passion? Is it time to leave your full time job and strike out on your own into the unknown? Is it time to get back into the work force after mothering for years? Is today the day you share a new idea with your boss? Do you need to say no to preserve your sanity and schedule? Do you need to wake up a little earlier every morning for self care to sip coffee, journal and/or pray to replenish your own soul? What will help you achieve your definition of success? A class? An e-course? Schedule a meeting with a mentor or trusted friend? Do it. Take one small action step today toward your goal. Don't worry about the "big picture" and just focus on Phase 1.
"Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules and build a life you're proud to live."
- Anne Sweeney
The world constantly reminds us what success SHOULD look like. We should all have the latest "it" thing, more followers, more likes, more money, more productivity, more beauty, more perfection, more being everything to everyone all the time. If your definition is more freedom with your time, then according to society, you are not successful. You have chosen a path that not many people are on, can afford or even know is available to them. Be a unique lone wolf. Be willing to make sacrifices to achieve your version of success. You will be a happier, healthier person in the long run and you will create a happiness ripple effect in your life and in the lives of the people around you. Live, breath and fight for success on your own terms and lead by example.
I wish you all the success in the world...whatever that looks like to you :)