What is success?

If you ask someone if they would like to be successful, you probably won’t have to wait long for a resounding YES. How about you, would you like to be successful? Of course you say. But what is success? Most people I work with have a much more difficult time with that question, defining what success is.

Is success about having a good job, a nice house, car, buying the most recent gadget, or making lots of money? I think that is a popular starting point for many people. However, research indicates that after a certain level – money doesn’t correlate to happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people that thinks money is the root of all evil. Money is simply a tool that magnifies your character. The lack of money however can certainly lead to unhappiness.

The research shows that money does in fact correlate to happiness up to the point where you can provide for your basic needs. This is the point where you don’t have to worry about how your rent is going to get paid next month, if you are going to be able to pay your bills and provide for your family. But AFTER that point, once you have satisfied your basic needs, the correlations starts to disappear. That is counterintuitive to what most of my clients think or has been conditioned to believe. It is quite different from what I used to believe as I was graduating from a great college, landing my first job in consulting, buying my first home – doing all the things successful people do. Or so I thought.

If it isn’t money, is success about accomplishing certain milestones or climbing up the corporate ladder? I have seen many people do just that only to be left unfulfilled. I have seen plenty of people land that great promotion, or finally get that job they have been waiting for and then once they get there, they say “is this it?”

To me, success is about staying true to your values and utilizing your strengths in a way that provides that “juice” of life. Whether you have a need for achievement, contribution to others, significance, growth or stability, you are pursuing a path that allows you to meet those needs on a daily basis.

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Success is much more about the journey than a destination. Have you ever looked forward to a great vacation, or life event? Sometimes the planning, anticipation, and build up can be just as exciting as the event itself. You might even find yourself once you are there being a little let down. Your expectations and vision might have overshot the reality of the event itself. Now that the event has come, you have lost the energy and excitement that came from all the buildup. That doesn’t mean the event itself is a disappointment. Our brains are wired to seek, to strive for the next goal, the next area of focus to challenge ourselves and grow.

Many people will spend much more time planning a beach vacation, or purchase of a new car than putting time and effort into planning what it is they really want from life. Maybe it is because we don’t know where to start? Or we don’t know what it is that we really want? Maybe we don’t believe we are deserving, or can actually have what we want anyway?

I believe everyone is capable of much more than they are achieving right now. What are you capable of if you could get out of your own way?

To get you started on your path to success, ask yourself these questions……

  •    What are my top three values? The three things I hold in importance above all else?
  •    What strengths and abilities do I have that makes time stop time for me and I become lost in the moment?
  •    What would my ideal life look like and more importantly, “feel” like?
  •    What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  •    What does success really mean to me?

The worst thing you can do is get to your destination and realize you have been traveling the wrong path the entire time!

 So, what does success mean to YOU?

 Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen