Redefining Success

The answer lies in striving not for a specific goal but in embodying certain values. When we define our success in terms of the person we want to be and are and not the goals we have completed, then we can apply these values to continue succeeding in the future.
04/18/2014 06:08 pm ET Updated Jun 18, 2014

I used to define success in terms of very specific goals in my life. If I achieved all of these goals, then I would consider myself successful. By the time I had graduated from high school, I had achieved almost every item on my list: I made high honors in high school, I became captain of my softball team, I established strong friendships, and I was preparing to attend the University of my dreams. My transition from high school into college felt very smooth as I prepared to sit back and enjoy success.

The first few months of college were full of shock and awe as every aspect of my new life engulfed my conscious mind. However, when the dust had settled and I came back for my second semester, the gravity of responsibility hit me. All my life the ability to focus myopically on a few concrete goals had driven me to achieve, but now I was responsible for every aspect of my life. Always a perfectionist, I soon became weighed down by succeeding in every small task I completed. The achievement of my specific past goals now seemed insufficient as I constantly sought new successes in every aspect of my life. Suddenly I felt less happy than ever before. I needed to take a step back and figure out my real objectives. Shouldering the complete responsibility of living on my own and making my own decisions, striving for success in all aspects of my life had drained me of energy, focus, and, most importantly, self confidence. How would I be able to clear my mind and see the forest through the trees again?

The answer lies in striving not for a specific goal but in embodying certain values. When we define our success in terms of the person we want to be and are and not the goals we have completed, then we can apply these values to continue succeeding in the future. It is common to define personal success in terms of what we have done. However, in so doing we easily dwell on our shortcomings, on the failed attempts at success. Basing how we see ourselves in the present on what we did in the past is not the definition of true success. We must define ourselves more broadly in terms of who we want to be in this moment. Let us stop looking back into the past and instead discover what we want to embody in this present moment. If strive to live up to values that are important to you then achievement of more tangible goals will follow. I strive to live in the present moment embodying the three Cs of conviction, confidence and courage. When I focus on values, my myopic, narrow focus broadens and I am able to become more productive. The overwhelming weight of numerous small tasks falls and I can take any challenge head on with the knowledge that successfully living my values will generate success in every aspect of my life.