Success can be a hard thing to define. There are billions of people on this planet and there seem to be billions of definitions for success. The dictionary defines success as achieving a goal but there is a little more to it than that.
So what is it? I propose that every person needs to define success for themselves. You need to decide what it is that you are reaching for. I can’t tell you what your success will look like. I can only tell you what success looks like for me. You need to determine what it will look like for you when you get there.
What does success look like to you? Do you need to earn a certain amount of money? Do you need a certain status, title, or position? Do you need to have more time to spend with friends or family? Does success for you mean recognition for certain accomplishments? Only you can define what success is for you. I want to help you paint a mental picture of what your success will look like.
WRITE IT ALL DOWN
Yes, you need to write this down. It is necessary! Do it! I know, we are working towards painting a mental picture. The written words will help to solidify that image in your mind. Reading the words you write today will help you to stay focused and check your progress. Do not rely on your memory for this – Write it down.
Go on. Find a paper and pen or pencil. I’ll wait for you.
THINK DREAMS NOT GOALS
This isn’t about how you would be happy having a million dollars. What would your life look like if you had a million or a trillion or whatever it is? What kind of clothes would you wear? What kind of car would you drive? Think about the house you would live in. Who do you want to share this success with? All these details are important in creating a vivid mental picture.
Goals are important and we will get to that in a bit. For now, I want you to dream. The first thing I want you to write down are these dreams. Now the whole thing just now but the little details that are popping into your head. The car, the house, and the people. Whatever else is coming to you now that you feel is important. jot down those little details right away.
Part of my dream is to have a Peterbilt 379 converted into an RV. I want to live in this thing. I know what color I want it painted. I know how I want the interior to look. I know exactly what I want. Be that specific. It’s okay if you don’t have all the details today. Work on your dream until you do.
The more specific you are the more vivid or “real” you mental picture will be. This level of detail helps to motivate us more. It also helps us keep focused on what we really want.
It is fine if you do not have all the little details worked out today. You can fill them in as you go along. You can also change them when needed, but don’t change them too often. If you are undecided about a particular detail, leave it for now and come back to it later.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU
You need to decide what things are important to you. What I care about is the lifestyle I want to live and who I want to have with me. I want the ability and resources to give in meaningful ways. These are important pieces for me. This is where I want to keep my focus.
Where should your focus be? You need to do some soul searching here to work out what is most important. Do not let anyone else sway you from what is important to you. Don’t try to create someone else’s vision of success, create your own.
Don’t get caught up in the cliches of what success is either. Your success should be based on what is important to you. If you don’t care about fast cars and big houses then don’t try to make that a part of your definition. What is important to YOU?
Spend a bit of time on this. Write down the things you think are important. Look at your list in a day or two and decide if you still feel the same way. Look at it again in a couple of weeks. Take another look in a few months. reevaluating what is important to you should be an ongoing exercise.
The things you decide are most important will be the things that your picture of success is based on. Creating a picture based on the wrong details will not be helpful.
WHAT ISN’T IMPORTANT
Almost as critical as knowing what is important is knowing what isn’t important. Having a specific amount of money is not what is important to me. Living my desired lifestyle is. I’m not focusing on my bank balance. My bank account needs to support that lifestyle. It is the lifestyle I am focused on not my net worth.
Maybe you want to be a billionaire but aren’t worried about living like Donald Trump. Your focus is on your net worth not on your lifestyle. This is why it is very important to know what isn’t important to you.
Contrasting the things that are important against the things that are not will allow you to see where you need to focus. It will give you a clearer picture to set in your mind.
Write down another list with the not important things on it. Keep both the important and not important lists together. Read over them from time to time and make any adjustments that you need to.
LET IT EVOLVE AND GROW
Change is inevitable. The picture you create now will change over time. Priorities change as life changes. Do not be so attached to your current definition of success that you can’t change it.
I know what color I want my RV to be. If I find a color I like better then changing my picture is not hard. This is a minor change. These sort of changes are not significant.
Major changes are a lot harder. If my wife were to divorce me and take our children, that would be a major change. My whole mental picture would have to shift. I might need to reprioritize and recreate my definition of success.
Change will happen. Be ready for it. Try to be flexible so that major changes don’t knock you too far off course.
WHAT SUCCESS IS TO ME
Success to me is having the resources to live my preferred lifestyle and be able to give back to my community. That is the generic definition of my success but it doesn’t help me paint much of a picture does it?
What is my preferred lifestyle? I love to travel, not as most people think of travel either. I love to drive long distances. I enjoy driving large vehicles. I like stopping at various places for a short time to experience the local culture. See a few local sights. Sample some local food. Meet some of the local people. After a fairly brief stay, I am ready to move on again.
Part of my preferred lifestyle is sharing my life with my family. Traveling with my wife and children. Being able to share my experience and knowledge with my kids is important to me. Having my wife by my side as we raise our children is also important.
Giving back to my community and the world at large is a big part of how I define success. I want to help people. This is not simply donating money to worthy causes. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to strive alongside those that I am helping. I need to be able to stand back and see the positive changes I have helped create.
Billionaire is not part of my picture of success. I wouldn’t complain mind you but it is not what I am reaching for. Neither is a big house or exotic sports cars. I do not want to be elected to anything. Fame and notoriety would not make me feel any more successful. These are things that are not important to me.
I could elaborate more but I think this is enough. You can begin to form a picture in your mind of what my success looks like. It will look a little different than my picture but that’s okay. The point is to enable you to form your own picture of what success will be for you.
PAINTING YOUR PICTURE
Once you have some idea of what is important to you and some of your details worked out it is time to start painting. Find a quiet place and time where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. I like to use the bathroom after everyone else is settled in bed for the night. It presents me with few distractions. I’m rarely disturbed once everyone else is asleep. I can sit quietly and lose myself in my picture painting. Find your place and time and bring your notes with you.
Read through what you have written and begin to visualize it in your mind. Make adjustments until what you are seeing feels right. You should feel energized by the image. It should make you feel ready to climb a skyscraper using only your fingernails.
If your image doesn’t empower and excite you then it still needs some work. Keep adjusting it. Look over your important and not important lists again and see if they still seem accurate. This can take more than one session to get right. Keep tweaking it until the image in your mind feels right for you.
As soon as you have a good picture make some notes about it. Get all the details you see written down. Make adjustments to your lists if needed. You want to make notes that will help you recreate this image later. With effective notes, there should be no reason you can’t recall this image. Total amnesia shouldn’t be able to keep this image from your mind.
This is your mental picture of what success will look like to you. Spend a few minutes each day looking at it. Refer to your notes if you need to. When you are being tested or feel discouraged this is the picture you should be looking at. Use it to motivate you. As you make decisions, ask yourself which path keeps me headed towards my picture of success?
CREATING YOUR ROADMAP
Now that you have defined what success looks like for you, it is time to create your roadmap. A roadmap will help guide you to the success you have pictured. This is where we start creating goals.
Create your roadmap to success.