What does success mean to you?
We often hear stories or read news about people who are dying, saying that their biggest regret is that they didn’t lead a more fulfilling life and pursue their dreams and aspirations. I’ve seen it for myself – people simply drifting through life, staying in jobs they don’t enjoy, or in toxic relationships. Every day that we wake up we make a choice – about our attitude, about what to do or what not to do. It is the combination of all of these daily, even hourly, decisions that make our life what it is. It is up to us to choose how we would like to live, how we would like our life to be. Most people say that their main goal in life is “to be happy” and equate “success” with “happiness”. But what does this actually mean? In my pursuit of what this means for me, I’ve looked at my own definition of success, my strategy for achieving it, what influences my actions, what enables my confidence, what I’ve implemented since starting the coaching diploma, my core values and what I am willing to do to honour them.
Success to me means living a long and fulfilling life, a life filled with meaning. When I am (much) older, I would like to be able to look back on my life and think “I made a difference”. This all starts with my health, “your health is your wealth” as the saying goes. It means making those daily decisions to eat the right foods, move my body, and look after my mind and spirit. It is my hope that leading a healthy lifestyle will lead to a longer life. I also get great satisfaction from really connecting with people – having deep friendships, seeing family regularly, and meeting new people from all over the world. I would like to earn enough so that I don’t have to worry about money. I aspire to have a career where I can use my strengths to help people, while doing something I truly love, and having an impact on the world. I also need to make time for fun, spending time doing things that I enjoy – reading, writing, watching movies, spending time with friends, trying new things, travelling, playing board games. It’s important for me continuously learn and grow in all areas of my life to feel successful.
In order for me to continually grow, I need to have clarity on what I am growing towards. This requires thinking and planning. Traditionally, I have focused very much on short term goals and haven’t consciously factored in my values. Longer term thinking and considering my values in my decision-making have become important to me. I have set clear goals for all areas of my life, broken them down into “life-goals”, such as to live in New York, and yearly goals, which are further broken down into quarterly, monthly, weekly goals and daily tasks to help me get there (exercise and writing, for example). I am firm believer in the power of planning. In the past I have used various tools, such as Excel spreadsheets, daily planners, notebooks, bullet journaling, and apps. I have yet to find something that works for me consistently. Currently I am using a combination of Excel and a paper planner to keep me moving in the right direction. For specific daily habits, I use apps like Fitbit (eating, exercise, sleep), Goodreads (reading), and Headspace (meditation) to measure how I am doing. I find it really helps me to stay motivated when I know already how far I have come, even if it’s just small steps.
Planning is also a crucial element of action (or inaction) on my part. I need to have my intentions written down, otherwise I can feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. I can be guilty of trying to get everything done on my to-do list, just because it’s in writing. What I am starting to do is make sure these actions are really getting me to where I want to go, and if not, remove them from my to-do list (which is tough for an achiever like me!). I do this by being aware of my values and how they link to my day to day actions. I also find once I have developed a good habit, it’s easy to keep going (specifically reading and exercising). Sometimes I overcommit myself by saying yes to too many people, trying to keep everyone happy. I need to remember to put myself first and am getting better at doing this. I am very self-motivated and find I don’t really need to have the same level of accountability that others do, as I am committed to myself – if I say to myself I will do something, then I will do it.
I am also a self-confident person. Unsurprisingly, having innate talent gives me confidence in my abilities. I was always a high achiever in school and this gave me a good grounding for having confidence in my day to day life. I also get confidence from being recognised for being good at something, achieving something, making progress towards a goal or ticking items off my to-do list. Knowing I can achieve anything I put my mind to, and that I don’t deserve success any less than anyone else is also a great boost for me. Something I have become more aware of is my own internal dialogue. I have learned to deal with the inevitable self-doubt when it starts to creep in by using positive affirmations. This is particularly effective in building self-belief when I am out for a run, working on an assignment, or just want to start the day with a positive mindset. Practice plays an important role in my confidence too, something I often need to remind myself of! When it comes to trying new things, I realised I need to accept myself as a “learner”, not to be too hard on myself when I make a mistake, because that’s how we learn.
In addition to what I have mentioned already, there are a few other things I have implemented to enable my success. I have become more aware of negative people in my life and have committed to spending more time with people who have a positive influence on me and are supportive of my decisions and values, and limiting my contact with negative influences. I have started reflecting to process my thoughts and get things out of my head by getting them onto paper, to see how I can continually improve. I have also started doing affirmations and meditating every day to ensure a positive mindset. I have started a “bank” where I can record successes in various parts of my life and view my achievements on paper. Planning has become even more important for me, to ensure what I am doing day to day reflects my values and is also getting me closer to my goals and vision for my life.
Importance of knowing your values
In order to understand my values better, I immediately started to work on my values by jotting them down. I noted a total of 25 and am continuing to add more. One of my top values is Connection. I honour this value by regularly meeting up with friends, keeping in touch with old friends, and being open to meeting new people. This also extends to feeling connected spiritually which is why I do daily meditation and have started to practice Reiki. Respect is also very important to me, I always make sure to treat people with respect, and treat people equally whether they are a cleaner, a receptionist or CEO. Family is another important value, I like to connect with my family regularly, and five years ago I moved home to be closer to my family after seven years living abroad. I also live by the value of Order – I plan things in advance, everything has its own place in my house, my office and in my head. Another of my values is what I refer to as Commitment or Follow-through. It means that if I say I will do something, then I will do it. This ties in with my value of Achievement – I like to know that I have “got stuff done” by ticking it off my to-do list. Learning plays a big role in my life too. I like to learn about myself, learn new skills and ideas, and get better at things I can already do. Last year, I have completed seven courses, read 54 books, learned a lot about myself, tried new restaurants and new experiences.
Success to me means living a long and a fulfilling life. More and more, I am trying to live according to my values, setting clear goals for myself and using planning tools to achieve them. When I make strides towards these goals, it gives me even more confidence to continue, to achieve more. Since starting the diploma, I have become more aware of what my values are and implemented ways to respect them on an ongoing basis, as well as starting a success bank to record my achievements.