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Free To Flourish: How to Define Success On Your Terms

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We’re familiar with the appearance of success. The big house. The flashy car. The packed planner and the phone that never stops pinging. 

But in a world where success is often defined by societal expectations, job titles, and financial prosperity, sometimes it’s hard to admit that those things don’t always equate to happiness and fulfillment. How many of us know what makes us feel happy and fulfilled?

What if you could break free from societal norms? What would your definition of success look like? What would a life where you truly flourish even look like?

These are the questions that fuel us. 

Why does success have to come at the expense of our passions, our relationships, and our mental and physical well-being? The truth is…it doesn’t.

Chasing after society’s definition of success will only leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. But by taking a step back and examining what truly matters to us, we can pave a path that aligns with us—our values and our passions. 

In this article, we’ll explore how to define success on your terms and some actionable tips for achieving a life of fulfillment and happiness. Whether you’re a young professional just starting out or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to make a change, this guide will help you break free from societal constraints and pave your path—one where you feel free to flourish. 

The Problem With Society’s Definition of Success

The problem with society’s definition of success is that it is often based on comparison and competition with others. This can lead to a never-ending cycle of trying to keep up with the Joneses, which can be exhausting and ultimately unsatisfying.

But I am encouraged by the many, many inspiring stories of individuals who have broken free from society’s definition of success and rewritten it for themselves. As a career coach, I’ve worked with professionals who have pursued their passions on the corporate level and entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses. Most importantly, they’ve done it while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That looks like success to me. 

I’m also inspired by Arianna Huffington, who left a successful career in politics to start the Huffington Post (which became one of the most influential news sites on the internet). What inspires me most is that she did this while prioritizing her health and well-being, and she encourages her employees to do the same.

So go ahead. Take the pressure off. There’s no right or wrong way to define success—no matter what society has told us all our lives. 

You’re now free to redefine success for yourself. Here’s how to do it. 

How To Identify Your Definition Of Success

  1. Start with values.

Reflect and define your core values, as well as your lifestyle values. Often, our displeasure with our current career comes from misalignment with our value system. For example, some of the clients I work with want their time to be their time, but they’ve found themselves stuck in jobs where this isn’t the case. Emails and urgent phone calls cut into weeknights and weekends. This is an infringement on their value system, and over time, it becomes emotionally draining. 

For this exercise, you want to determine two sets of values for yourself:

  • Core values refer to what in your work provides you with meaning and purpose (creativity, teamwork, social change, prestige, thrill, consistency, etc.). Create a list of the things that make you happy and the things you’re passionate about. 
  • Lifestyle values motivate you to do your best work (flexibility, location, benefits, salary, etc.). Reflect on what you value most in life. Is it family, friends, career, health, or something else entirely? Make a list. 

Once you’ve identified your core values and lifestyle values, you can begin to create a vision of success that aligns with them.

  1. Ditch the metrics. 
Free To Flourish: How to Define Success On Your Terms | Flourish Careers

Many people use metrics such as salary, title, and material possessions to define success. While these things can be important, they don’t necessarily reflect true success. The danger of relying solely on numerical metrics to define success is that it can lead to a narrow-minded focus on achieving external goals rather than pursuing what truly makes you happy.

In my business, I no longer use “metrics” to define success. Instead, I consider whether I’m having fun, looking forward to my daily schedule, finding purpose in helping my beloved clients create more aligned career paths and having time to walk in the park in the morning. 

Instead of relying solely on metrics like a particular title or salary, try focusing on your values and the things that bring you fulfillment. Create an image of what you want your life to look like and what you want to achieve. When you focus on your values and vision of success, the metrics will often fall into place.

Heads up: When you ditch traditional metrics, there will be people that think you’re nuts! But remember: We’re breaking free from what other people think anyway.  
  1. Reexamine “enough.” 

When you think about finances—what is “enough” for you? Do you have some arbitrary number in your mind or have you done the work to determine how much enough is for your desired lifestyle? 

One of the keys to breaking free from society’s definition of success is to reexamine your idea of “enough” because it may not be as much as the next person! To determine “enough,” you’ll need to identify what you need to be happy and fulfilled, as well as what you can do without. 

It’s important to recognize that everyone’s definition of “enough” will be different, and that’s okay. Once you’ve determined what is “enough” for you, you can focus on achieving that level of success, rather than society’s warped version of it. 

  1. Consider time value. 

Consider your answer to this question: Would you rather earn more money and be busy all the time OR earn less money and have more time for yourself?  

Many people equate success with earning more money, but this isn’t necessarily the case if it comes at the expense of time. Time itself is a precious commodity, so it’s important to consider how you want to spend it. 

If you value having free time to pursue your passions and share experiences with loved ones, then you might find that—for you—HEART-based success comes from having time and “enough” money. 

Break Free For A Flourishing Future

Breaking free from society’s definition of success can be a challenging journey, but it’s ultimately worth it. Remember: You are not your job title. Breaking free from societal expectations is key to finding your perfect-fit career. 

Make the Leap! Career Change Playbook is a 30-page playbook outlining EACH step in the career change process, so you know exactly which step to take next as you pave your own path…your way. 

Flourish Careers is a career coaching and consulting business dedicated to helping individuals and small businesses find their unique path to flourishing professional success. Learn more about how we can help you here.

August 14, 2023

woman looking out over a hill with trees

Free To Flourish: How to Define Success On Your Terms

woman looking out over a hill with trees

Free To Flourish: How to Define Success On Your Terms

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