Upon hearing the word 'success,' most of us conjure up visions of money, status, lavish holidays and upscale parties. And there's nothing wrong with that. I can't imagine anybody ever complaining about having too much money. However, with that comes the conclusion that we need to work long hours, have an impressive job title, wear the right clothes, drive the right car, have a perfect body and of course, also be adored and respected by everyone on the planet.
It is the notion that we'll be successful when other people think that we are. So, we put in hours at the job which we think will earn the most money. Every time our pay increases, so does our standard of living. We're in a different league now, so our vacations need to be more exotic, our panties more expensive and our car even more impractical. In an effort to impress others, in the hopes of convincing ourselves that we're successful, we overwork and overextend ourselves. We are exhausted and constantly stressed trying to keep up with everything and everyone around us. Now tell me, does that look like success? I'd say no.
So what does real success look like? Well, real success looks like you. Real success is you doing what you are meant to do in this world. Fulfilling the purpose that fires up your belly. It is doing what you are great at and having a blast doing it. It is realizing you were put on this planet for a very special reason and knowing the value in being you. As a result, you'll take better care of yourself and begin to recognize the value in each person and every situation.
Keep this up and you can't help being rewarded emotionally and financially. Think of people like Jack Canfield, Cesar Millan, Buddy Valastro, Tara Stiles and Oprah. Would you ever have thought you could make good money through teaching, training dogs, baking cakes, by instructing yoga or talking to people? No. Yet these people are doing it.
It works for them because they were born to do it. They follow their intuition which has lead them not only to financial freedom, but more importantly, to emotional freedom. They have a great time doing their thing. They serve the world with their talents and gifts. And so can you. Figure out what comes easily for you, what you love doing and make it part of your everyday life. This will allow you to thrive physically, emotionally and spiritually. Plus you'll be a lot more fun to be around.
Have the courage to know your gifts are precious, even when others don't realize it yet. Show up every day for yourself as yourself because that is the greatest gift you can give the world. Let go of perfection and embrace your life as it was meant to be, especially for you. Let financial success be a wonderful byproduct, not a goal in itself.
Realize that you are worthy of being loved just the way you are and that happiness is your birthright. Know that someone else calling you a success will not make you feel happy, but feeling in your heart of hearts that you are on the right path will.
Standing tall and being the amazingly unique person that you are, well that looks like true success to me. But my guess is you won't care that much about looking like a success -- you'll be too busy enjoying your life.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.