What is success, and how does it relate to our work life? How about our personal life? Recently I have been thinking about this ever-changing interpretation. The traditional definition of success is "the fact of achieving wealth, respect or fame."
Lately I have begun to redefine success for myself, because I do not see it as an external, superficial thing. Success does not solely equate to wealth or fame, but how happy I am with the people around me and the quality of life I lead. These relationships and my ability to affect them in a positive way are the reasons I wake up every day.
Success is the conversation you have with the grocery store clerk because you know the last 50 people didn't say a word. It's the ability for you to do the things you want to do and to fully enjoy them. Success should be enjoying the things you want and giving away the things you don't. It's calling the ones you love on their birthday instead of sending them a Facebook message. Success is cultivating the relationships you have and not being afraid to initiate with the ones you don't.
Recently I attended the Healthways' Well-Being Summit in Nashville. Arianna Huffington spoke about the work environment and what typically defines success. The old-school way of thought is that the more you work and the less sleep you get, the more successful you are, or the more you are building toward success. This burns out most people very quickly, however, and we notice more absences and less engagement in the work place.
I am a health coach and spend most of my days helping others create behavior change in their lives. Through my coaching experience I have started to notice my own and others habits as I interact on a deeper level with the ones I love.
On a broad scale we have lost our emotions and vulnerability to each other. People hardly give you eye contact and a smile while walking down the street -- they are on their phones or purposefully turning their head away to avoid all personal interaction. Look at the people you see sitting at restaurants, going on dates, hanging with friends. More often than not someone has their cell phone on the table and is constantly checking for the next update. We are not involved in the present anymore and have become more interested in looking at the next Facebook or Twitter post.
Over the last few decades we have gradually become increasingly sluggish, overweight, and more out of touch with ourselves and those around us than ever before. Advertising, access to junk food, too many hours at work, and technology are just a few of the reasons behind this trend of our unhealthy lifestyles.
Some of the reasons we have lost touch with our personal health and connections can also become the solution to our unhealthy ways. Advertisements are based on what we buy -- If we begin to make smarter choices, then the advertisements served up to us will be present better options. As we begin to shift our focus from junk food to healthy food, so will the stores we buy these items from. They supply what people demand for that particular product, that's apples or ice cream. If healthier options are bought out more quickly, then retailers will start to stock those items to a larger degree, eventually pushing out the unhealthy options.
For this environmental shift to happen, the thought process has to shift within each of us. What do we want for ourselves, for our family, and our friends? Whatever you may choose, be happy with it and own that decision. Too many of us make decisions that we regret. To be truly happy in life, you must choose how you live and live with what you choose.
Lately there has been this word "well-being" thrown around. Wellness is taking care of yourself first so that you can then help those around you. The standard elements of well-being help to identify where we see ourselves as healthy and where we are not. If you are interested in finding your community well-being, you can find it here: State of American Well-Being 2013.
Creating internal motivation in yourself and others can be extremely difficult. Finding what drives you and those around us will lead us all to a higher sense of purpose. As I have begun to explore subconscious thoughts and what makes us motivated, it also makes me look at my life in a different light.
My girlfriend and I have started to make some small changes. We talk about our finances and how we can help each other better manage and stay on track. Recently we went over our credit scores and had a friendly competition with that and I won. When visiting each other's apartments we have a requirement our work is finished beforehand. We also put our phones away while we eat dinner to better enjoy each other's company. Since we have been making these small changes our relationship has reached a deeper level, and we are communicating better than ever before.
My company is also very proactive in allowing a work-life balance and as a result my well-being has taken on a higher priority. Daily workouts, stand up desks, and yearly well-being assessments and biometric screenings are just a few of the steps they are taking.
The great thing about well-being is that it is ours, and only we have the power to change it. Would you take less money for a better work environment? How about spending less on coffee to enjoy earlier retirement? Would you trade in your nice house for a small house in a tight-knit community? How about smaller changes -- try trading in your cell phone for a night to enjoy the company of another? Or turning off the TV on a weeknight and having dinner as a family? Or putting the mp3 player away to play the guitar.
How do YOU define success?