How do you define success on your terms?
In this article, I’m sharing how you can define success on your terms and begin to break away from a patriarchal dominance mode of defining success, and step into a mode that feels truly authentic and aligned with your best self.
I have four processing steps for defining success on your terms, and you can work through these exercises.
What’s Your Definition of Success?
Below, I’m going to give you four tips to consider and work with in order to define success on your terms. I encourage you to grab a notebook, and go through each suggested exercise, taking some time with each.
A lot of women have great success yet are terribly dissatisfied, or they feel like in order to become successful, they must sell their Souls to get there.
Let’s create success on your terms.
What Do You Truly Want?
First, you must determine what you want.
Often, we don’t pause to ask the question, “What do I really want?” I might say to a client, “what do you want?” and she’ll reply with something like, “I’m not really sure,” or “I want to build my business,” or “I want to have a better relationship with my husband,” or “I want to be a better parent to my kids.” Once she defines at least something of what she wants, we’ll begin to explore why she wants these things.
Asking the ‘why question’ helps us to go deeper toward finding what’s underneath it all that we really want.
We often define our successes based on what we think we should want. We should want a happy marriage, a great job, a high income, perfect parenting, among many other things, but according to whom?
We often have a kind of ping-ponging going on in our heads, “Maybe I should do this,” or “Maybe I should do that,” torn between things we like and feel, and thus having a hard time defining what we really want.
Many of us are stuck in lives that don’t align with what we actually want, and it can be really scary to realize you’ve not been living what you want this whole time.
Have compassion for yourself. It may not be that you’re even fully out of alignment.
For instance, maybe as a person who loves to travel, you’ve ended up in a job that doesn’t allow for that. Or maybe you’d really prefer to live more holistically and naturally, but you have a lot on your plate and struggle to do those things. Sometimes we have to work within the confines of what life requires of us at the moment.
Nonetheless, it’s important to get real about what you truly want. What are your priorities? What will make you happy?
Imagine if money and people’s opinions were not an object, if you didn’t have any kind of ‘shoulds’ floating around in your brain or in your feelings, and you could just list what you desire. Try it. What shows up on your list?
Success is about achieving a desired outcome.
Whose desire are you following?
We want to define success on our terms, because success is going to mean something totally different to you than it means to other people.
Many believe that success has a certain path, a certain income, a certain type of home, and a certain type of education. When we begin to redefine success on our own terms, we must get connected with what we want.
I’m a big advocate of journaling in all kinds of different ways. I believe that having a dialogue with your deeper Soul can be helpful. In a journal, take some time to say: “Dear Soul, what do you want?” And then sit back and listen. Engage your senses. Be incredibly present to that moment and write whatever comes. Do not censor. Do not eliminate. Do not filter. Write whatever comes, no matter what.
Maybe you’d say this idea is outlandish, but if you’re willing to first name what it is that you want, then you can start the juices flowing in terms of opening up to the specifics of what you want.
Once you list something you want to begin with, ask yourself, “Why do I want this thing?” and “Why is this important to me?” Maybe it comes from a deep value you have. This is a tool for remembering who you are. A significant aspect of remembering who you are is knowing what you want as a way of reconnecting to your values.
The values are the reason, the care, and the passion that you have for something. Begin to ask yourself as you write these things that you want, “Why do I want it?” Maybe there are some underlying reasons and inspirations like freedom.
“I want freedom.”
“I want prosperity or wellness.”
“I want fun and joy in my life.”
“I want a challenge and intellectual stimulation.”
Begin to list what you really want, with no holds barred, for different domains of your life. Have a dialogue with your Soul, and trust whatever comes.
Stop Seeking Outside of Yourself
The minute you write down something you want, or notice something you want, and think to yourself that your husband would never go for that, or that wouldn’t be so good for your kids, or wonder what your parents would think, STOP IT!
You must stop seeking the answers outside of yourself.
This is difficult, because our patriarchal dominance culture has taught us to seek the answers outside of ourselves and to distrust ourselves.
We’re taught not to ask too many questions, and to look to others to tell us what to do. I love to find someone who’s got more experience, more wisdom, or more understanding than I’ve become aware of, and allow them to be my mentors, my guides, my teachers, and authors of books that I read. However, it’s important to be learning from someone who’s willing to allow us to ask questions, to challenge them on what they’re teaching, and to come with a new perspective.
We have to stop seeking approval or permission or validation outside of ourselves.
Clarify what you want, and stop seeking outside of yourself.
Once you see something you want, don’t go asking someone if it’s a good idea. I always give myself at least three days to digest whatever I’ve been stewing over before I go out there and test it out, or try something out, or run it by a trusted friend or mentor. It’s hard to simply sit with our clarity and let it be. I’m not always good at it myself, so I totally understand.
Take some time to pause, to sit with your feelings and with your thoughts.
Let Go Of Your Old Stories
We have so many old stories and thoughts going on in our heads, and most of them were programmed by our patriarchal dominance culture.
We have a society that says certain things need to be done a certain way. There’s a hierarchy. There’s a process. There’s the status quo that we’re supposed to follow. There are rules to be followed. Those are all stories.
Who made those rules?
Are they really your rules?
We need to be asking ourselves, “What do I need to let go of to actually bring this new definition of success into my life?” We likely need to let go of thinking things have to happen a certain way.
I tend to be very tenacious and persevering about going after something and making it happen. I’ve had a lot of great manifesting success in my life and at the same time I can hold on a little too tightly to the way I think things are supposed to turn out.
We may have a definition of success, present it to the world, open ourselves up to it, declare it to a witness, and put lots of energy behind it. However, we often refuse to let go of things like how, what, where and when it’s going to happen. We must be willing to let go of those things.
Let go of the rules around how things will happen.
For instance, perhaps our idea of success includes a really wonderful partner in our lives – a love interest, an intimate partner, a marital partner, whatever it is – and you have a predefined definition of what love looks like, When you get attached to that predefined definition, you can block out the love. You block off the possibilities because maybe you think love only looks a certain way.
We often don’t know what it’s going to look like and we need to let go of our attachment. We need to surrender to any kind of clinging to the way we think it’s all going to happen.
Believe In Your Vision of Success
Maybe you think you’re not good enough. You’ll never measure up. Nobody’s going to like you. You’re afraid of judgment. You’re afraid of putting yourself out there. I’ve been there too, and I still go there at times.
The truth is, if we’re not being a little bit controversial or maybe countercultural, we’re likely not standing in our truth. Every one of us has a unique perspective, and the cultural norm often has a more collective perspective that’s expected of people. We often see people that break the barriers, and no matter what you think of them, you can’t fault them for the fact that they’re taking a chance. They’re doing something differently.
Some of the greatest inventors, business people, and artists in the world have chosen to take a path that’s counter to the cultural norms, and part of it is because they believed enough in themselves – they believed enough in what they wanted, what success they had in mind for themselves, the vision they had for themselves that they were willing to go after it.
When we’re interested in something, we’re going to do what’s convenient to move toward it. But when we’re genuinely committed to it, we’re going to do whatever it takes. Being committed is really believing in what you’re wanting.
If you want success, what you want, what you desire, significant effort needs to be made to really believe in yourself.
We have years and years of programming that we’ve gotten since we were young telling us it’s not ok to believe in ourselves. It can be really challenging to deprogram ourselves, and that only happens with practice. We must be willing to practice every time you catch yourself not believing in the dream, going back to what everybody else says or thinks, or clinging to an idea.
If you start to find yourself straying away from the first exercise, which is to define success in terms of what you want and desire, you’ve probably gotten stuck in not believing in your success or yourself. You’ve gotten stuck clinging or holding on to things that don’t belong. You’ve ended up asking everyone else what to do, and they’ve started to talk you out of your dream, or you’re too worried about what everybody else is going to think for you to actually go after it. These are some of the most common things that keep us stuck, that keep us from moving forward. When we can learn to define success on our terms and keep practicing these steps to actually go after it, our whole lives can begin to change.
What is your definition of success? How do you define success for yourself? How will you commit to making it happen?
For a video version of 4 Ways to Define Success for Yourself, watch here: