Many of us regard academic results and earning potential as important markers and measures of success but they’re only part of a many-faceted picture. In reality, success has many faces. So many of us are influenced and guided by other people’s hopes, dreams and aspirations, encouraging us to follow their goal of what success looks like. They may have missed out on a university education, have unfulfilled dreams of pursuing a professional career, like becoming a doctor or accountant, and want those they love to succeed where they failed. But living another person’s dreams can be a lonely, unsatisfactory experience, generating very little enthusiasm to sustain it.
Successfully learning a service or trade can open the doors to an amazing career. Offering a cleaning service, household repairs, gardening, odd jobs, a concierge business will require varied qualifications and registrations, but these are areas of significant demand and potential growth. Customers are clamouring to engage with service providers who are good.
Or starting small, perhaps with a multi-level marketing initiative, may be a huge step for someone who has not worked for a while or who needs to balance the many demands of their personal life. Hopefully, doing this enables them to receive training as they learn and grow their business. In those situations, success may be making the commitment to regular coaching, gaining the confidence to speak to people, even when some are strangers, learning how to professionally introduce themselves and their goods or services.
Developing a business model of their own, where the goal is to ultimately work hours to suit and set their own targets, with the option to be flexible, can feel liberating and worth aspiring to.
Budgeting, planning, recognising what people need and pitching to make a good impression, followed hopefully by a sale, requires good timing, skill and mental dexterity, a time to dig deep and reference life experiences that may not have been tapped into for some time. All things to be proud of and give oneself credit for.
For super-achievers, reaching those all important goals whilst appearing professional and financially successful brings its own pressures. It costs a lot of money and personal investment to maintain the lifestyle, level of fitness and appearance to satisfy other people’s expectations of what success looks like. And, often other people judge a person’s success on what they see and have their attention drawn to.
Another’s perception of success may be either good or bad, positive or negative, based on what’s happening in their own lives. For example, if you were looking to make a middle-of-the road purchase, what would you think if you saw flashy, expensive cars in the staff car park; that they were successful or that they charged far too much for their wares? Seeing excessive affluence might make you think twice. But if you were aiming for a high-end purchase, seeing signs of opulent success might convince you that you were in the right place. Perception is relative to each situation.
There are those people who appear to have it all, the business reputation, big house, expensive car and lifestyle. For them, success may now be about cutting back, downsizing and spending less time at work, with more time for the things that matter to them, doing things they want to do. It may be that time with family has become more important, being only too aware that children grow up quickly whether you’re there to see them or not and that relationships can struggle if they’re not regularly nurtured. Other people may have always wanted to travel, to see the world and take their time doing so. They may feel successful when they’re finally able to buy a camper van or pack their rucksack and set off, with the freedom to do as they please.
Being in a position where they’re able to volunteer and do charity work gives many people a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment, maybe in ways never experienced in a work environment. Success, for them, is seeing the difference their involvement makes.
Interestingly, being successful can bring its own challenges too. It’s not unusual to hear of the void left when an athlete succeeds in a competition, but then has nowhere else to go; they’ve achieved it all.
What comes next if there’s no new success to aim for?
Many top sportspeople report experiencing the chasm left when, after years of dedication and focus, they retire and it all comes to an end, especially when they’re at the top of their game.
It’s important to plan ahead. Whilst being single-minded about one’s goals and motivation, it also matters to be aware of the importance of cultivating interests and satisfaction outside the main focus too.
What does success mean to you? Is it a financial, fitness or lifestyle goal? For many, it’s when they finally feel that they’re making a valuable contribution, whilst finding a sense of security and inner peace. Money is only part of it; recognition, appreciation and personal satisfaction often bring their own success and reward.
Susan Leigh MNCH (ACC)
Altrincham, Cheshire and South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer and media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s author of 3 books, all on Amazon and with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
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