As the landscape of our working life changes beyond recognition, challenging our preconceived notions about what is needed to ‘get ahead’ in life, it is time to take a fresh look and ask ourselves, ‘How do you define success?’, writes Anna Lundeberg…
If I were to ask you how you define ‘success’, what would you say? Would you describe a corporate executive who has climbed the career ladder and now earns a seven digit salary? Social entrepreneur, a renowned keynote speaker and bestselling author? Or the friend who seems so satisfied with his life?
It may sound idealistic and privileged to spend time on the semantics of what defines success. Most of us will go through our lives while being busy, always working towards that next milestone, never stopping to think about whether that’s what we really want. But what happens when we don’t define what ‘success’ means to us?
What really matters in life?
There are moments in life that prompt us to question what really matters—when we become parents, or lose a loved one. or when global events trigger a rethink – a worldwide pandemic; War threat.
During the last two years, in many ways, we have had to curtail our ambitions. Our health goals have focused on avoiding getting infected with COVID. At work, success for many of us means having a strong Wi-Fi signal for a meeting or being eligible for furlough.
rediscovering our values
In family life, we try not to kill each other while living and working together. We’ve also rediscovered the value of things we previously believed in. Freedom to go for a walk whenever you want. International travel privileges. The value of connection and community. And our attitude towards exercise has changed as well.
“People have realized that they don’t need to go to the gym, they don’t need all the equipment, and they no longer need to carve out time for that big workout session,” says Pilates instructor and founder, Louise Butler. Live Brave, an on-demand wellness hub.
‘The type of exercise has also changed,’ she adds. ‘We’re slowing down and becoming more mindful, alternating intense HIIT workouts with things like yoga and breathing exercises. And we are enjoying the community aspect of working together.
How the pandemic affected our work lives
The biggest reappraisal is in the works because of the pandemic. After experiencing a different way of working – without a long commute and late hours at the office, with more time and energy for our families and home lives – we are wondering what the traditional ‘nine to do’ There’s no better way than or no five’. A more flexible, less stressful way of navigating our careers.
We talk about ‘work-life balance’ but it is not just ‘work’ on one side and ‘life’ on the other. In my experience, there are five major areas in our lives that we need to consider in order to live a truly successful life in a more complete and holistic sense.
You can use this model – what I call the ‘5L’: Live, Love, Learn, Lead, Laugh – to consider a broader definition of success beyond just work and redefine success in each of these areas. in order to help you.
Live: Achieving Success in Your Health and Wellness
When you measure success only by your achievements, your health is inevitably one of the areas that gets neglected. Stress levels are high as you work late into the night to meet deadlines, but you keep on slogging, assuming this is the price you have to pay to achieve it.
But without your health, even the pursuit of traditional success would be difficult and ultimately not sustainable. True success requires that you put your health first. It’s not just about ‘not being sick’; The World Health Organization defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being’.
It’s also about not pressurizing yourself to eat, meditate and eat a complete diet every day. Butler advises, ‘Find something that makes you feel good.
‘It could be a program you enjoy, an instructor you click with, or a particular exercise you love to do. If you don’t enjoy it, you don’t want to do it every day.’ Move forward every day because you want to, not just because you think you ‘should’. slow down.
Love: Success in relationships and belonging
Talking about ‘success’ in the context of relationships may sound strange. But you grow up with a set of assumptions about what romantic partnerships and families should look like, and not meeting those expectations can make you feel like you’ve failed.
Loneliness is subjective, and we each have different needs; However, we have some things in common. As Dr Duana Welch, expert in research-based relationship counseling confirms, ‘We all need love. We all need meaning. And relationships based on kindness and respect will always flourish.
In a world where we can spend days together engrossed in our personal devices, it’s about quality over quantity. Dr Welch says, ‘The easiest way to make a relationship grow quickly is in the little moments. When someone you love asks for your attention, give it.
‘Watch when they enter the room. When they come to you, give them a hug. put the phone down. Ask questions and really listen. Give your full attention to yourself in a loving way, and watch your relationships improve,’ says Dr. Welch.
Learning: Finding Success in Personal Development
Your early years are all about learning, and success is measured by how you perform in school. As you get older, you become more comfortable, getting into the routine and sticking to what you know. But outside your comfort zone, as the saying goes, is where the magic happens.
Learning new skills keeps you relevant and competitive on the job. It brings interesting new perspectives, ideas and career opportunities. And it is intrinsically rewarding. ‘Learning’ can mean formal academic or vocational education, but it can also be practical or creative, and full-time study does not require time off for work.
There are endless resources available to learn, anywhere, anytime, and to suit any learning style. Start small by listening to a new podcast, reading a book, or watching an interesting YouTube video.
Laughter: Finding Success in Your Free Time
Spare time?’ I hear you scoff, ‘What free time?!’ With endless to-do lists, and work-life divisions blurring, your personal needs and interests come last, after all your obligations as a parent, professional, and responsible adult.
Eve Rodsky, New York Times bestselling author of Fair Play (Quercus, £12.99), calls this your ‘unicorn space’ – a time to express yourself creatively; that makes you unique. ‘Creative life is not good, but necessary,’ she says.
Eve adds, “It is essential to our sense of self, our physical and mental well-being, the health of our partnerships and our ability to look like a fulfilling life to our children, our friends and coworkers, and our communities.”
Give yourself permission to prioritize time for yourself and your interests. Schedule it, set clear boundaries. And if you don’t know what your unicorn location is? Be curious and find out.
Lead: Finding Success in Your Career and Influence
Usually a decade or two after you ‘successfully’ grow in your career you begin to question, ‘Is it?’ Yet, you cling to society’s traditional success symbols, feel like you’re too invested and anyway, you don’t know what to do instead.
But, as management guru Stephen Covey said, ‘It doesn’t matter how fast you go if you’re going in the wrong direction.’ Consider the cost of those extra hours after the kids’ bedtime — to you, your health, and your relationships — in doing work you don’t like, for an employer that doesn’t care.
It usually comes down to money, as you have built your life and lifestyle around a fixed salary. But have you seen how much you need? What else matters, beyond money?
Is it time to do the thing you love? Feeling like you’re making a difference? How do you want your work to fit in with your family and personal life? What might you regret later if you don’t change now?
How to find success in 5 areas of life
As you consider success in these five areas, ask yourself: Where is the biggest imbalance? Where do you feel the strongest pull to reevaluate your goals? How do you take the time to reflect on what you want?
Consider what’s a priority right now, so you can make immediate adjustments. Then look forward to three, five, 10 years. Are the children going to school? Are you about to be an empty nester? Is retirement approaching?
How can you plan for these upcoming shifts? Asking yourself, ‘How do you define success?’, puts the onus on yourself to work, to find out what you really want. But when you do – that’s when the magic happens.
How do you define success: more resources for inspiration
In the LISTEN: Reimagining Success podcast, Anna Lundberg explores how we can move beyond the traditional nine to five to a more balanced definition of success.
read: in Find Your Unicorn Space (Penguin Random House, £14.99, available now on Kindle and in hardcover, paperback released July 29), Eve Rodsky combines inspiration with advice on how to (re)discover what makes you alive Is.
Reading: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life Héctor by Garca and Francesc Miralles (Cornerstone, £12.99) wants to help you find that reason to jump out of bed in the morning.