Your Definition of Success

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Ask almost anyone, and they will say they want to be successful. Yet the definition of success can be elusive. To experience great success, it will be necessary to determine what success means to you.

At SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, we know you want to live your life to the fullest. Living the life of your dreams requires you to define success for yourself. That’s why this blog helps you define success, make plans to achieve your goals, find a balance between meeting your goals and enjoying the process, and cope with setbacks along the way. This is all part of developing your personal definition of success.

Define Success on Your Own Terms

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines success as a “favorable or desired outcome.” From this, we can see that there is no standard definition of success. 

Desired outcomes can vary depending on personal goals. For some, the idea of success is lots of money. For others, it is a large social media following. Success might be changing people’s lives or having a positive impact on the world. It might mean all of the above as you define success on your own terms. 

Perhaps poet and writer Maya Angelou said it best: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” 

This definition leaves the door wide open. You do not need to meet anyone else’s definition of success. Success is more than checking a goal off the list. It is living the life you want, and being the person you want. When you think about success, you may want to explore questions such as:

  1. What kind of person do you want to be?
  2. When do you feel most fulfilled?
  3. What makes you happy?
  4. What do you see as “worth it,” even if you have to work hard and struggle to achieve?
  5. What skills do you possess or could develop? (Becoming an astronaut isn’t going to happen if you don’t want to excel in math and science).

These and other similar questions can help you define what success means to you.

Make a Plan to Achieve Your Goals

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After defining success, the second step successful people do is to make plans to achieve their goals. Long-term goals are met through a series of short-term metrics. 

For example, your personal definition of success might involve landing your dream job. To achieve this desired outcome, you may explore the following as short-term goals:

  • Develop job interview skills
  • Research potential interview questions
  • Research the company culture of potential employers
  • Determine how you fit into a company’s values
  • Explore ways to demonstrate your work ethic to hiring managers
  • Demonstrate your ability to work with team members

Perhaps your personal definition of success centers around family. You might want to explore areas such as:

  • Develop your family communication skills
  • Discuss your family values and the things that create a family bond
  • Understand the goals of each family member and how you can support one another
  • Devote time to family activities
  • Consider family therapy to deal with dysfunctional areas or generational dysfunction

Developing a plan moves your long-term goal from a dream to a project with functionality. 

Enjoy the Process

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An important aspect of achieving your success is finding a balance between achieving goals and enjoying the process. Part of a successful life is your well-being. Feeling good, having plenty of energy, and being happy with your life’s path are elements of the success plan. Here are some things that can help with that balance:

Celebrate the milestones. Don’t wait until you reach your final goal to celebrate. Celebrate the steps along the way. As you achieve your short-term goals, enjoy your victory. Each milestone brings you closer to your definition of success and deserves to be celebrated.

Focus on your wellness. Nutrition, exercise, plenty of water, and adequate sleep are crucial to enjoying the process. It helps you maintain energy and feel your best. A drained body and an exhausted mind will not achieve your desired outcomes.

Spend time with family and friends. Suppose you achieve your definition of success but lose your important relationships in the process. In that case, it is doubtful you will be happy. Healthy relationships are a great support and make life more enjoyable. Remember that part of defining success is to think about what is worth it. Many would agree that achieving a goal but destroying relationships is not worth it. Support your relationships and enjoy their support in return.

Enjoy the small stuff. Everyone can enjoy achieving a great goal. Those most likely to succeed are those who enjoy the small elements. A basketball player may desire a championship, but a champion player thrives during practices and the workouts. Enjoying the elements toward your goal makes life more fulfilling.

Keep a good attitude. Sometimes our level of enjoyment is based on the attitude which we maintain. The same activity can be fun or drudgery, depending on your attitude. Practice making even mundane activities enjoyable. Your attitude can make all the difference.

Learn to Cope with Setbacks

Great goals won’t come easy. Learning to cope with the adversity of setbacks will be crucial. Preparing for tough times can provide the peace of mind you need to keep working toward your goals. Here are some ways to overcome the struggles:

Find support. Friends, family, colleagues, and support groups can provide perspective, encouragement, inspiration, and practical advice when setbacks occur. No one person has all the answers. Having support and asking for help is a quality of successful people.

Evaluate your plans. Setbacks can serve as a time to reassess. They can teach valuable lessons, help refine the process, and aid you in avoiding future mistakes. You may discover that a setback is a life lesson essential to your success.

Relax. Tough times are stressful. Managing that stress will be important. Practices such as meditation, mindfulness, nature walks, and hobbies can be great ways to unwind and stay at your best. 

Seek therapy. A professional therapist can help whenever you feel stuck, including when you experience setbacks. Your mental health is a crucial component of any definition of success. A mental health professional can be a vital team member, help you maintain peace of mind, and stay focused on your personal development.

Stay Flexible

Setbacks will force you to be flexible, but flexibility is also wise when things are going well. Regular assessment allows you to make those small course corrections that help you stay healthy and balanced and, in the best-case scenario, avoid a major setback.

Flexibility also allows your goals and dreams to evolve as you learn. Your definition of success may grow due to your experience and personal development.

Help is Available

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It may be natural to think about seeking therapy if you become discouraged by setbacks, but therapy can help with every step in the process. Mental health professionals can help you clarify your goals, think through your plan, develop your support system, maintain balance and flexibility, and deal with setbacks. 

At SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, we provide mental health services that can help you achieve your personal definition of success. Our clinicians are trained in many psychotherapy techniques and provide treatment in individual, couple, and family settings via telehealth. If you want help visualizing and achieving your goals, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.For more on overcoming hard times to live your life of success,  preorder the new book Unbreakable, by Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services. It’s a story of one woman’s journey through adversity and how you can use her principles to build your successful life. Unbreakable will be released in March 2023.

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