It's time to rewrite our definition of success
We live in a culture that believes if we put in more hours of work, we’ll get more done.
So we hustle, grind and work without breaks. We sacrifice our lunch or night’s sleep to meet an important deadline.
We clock 10 hours+ workdays, even when our body is screaming and asking us to stop or take a break.
We caffeinate ourselves through fatigue and exhaustion. Silencing the voice that’s nudging us to go slow.
We work weekends, late nights and even through holidays.
Because we accept working longer hours will lead us to success.
Several successful business leaders model such a lifestyle to us. So we believe ‘indeed this must be the way to success’.
Growth at any cost is the mantra we’ve bought into, unwittingly so.
In our world, the dominant definition of success is profit in business. It's often considered as the only metric of success.
We indulge in excessive consumption mistaking it as a badge of success.
Owning bigger homes, fancier cars, trendier clothes and gadgets have become markers of success. As have aspirations for designations and sending kids to beyond means expensive schools.
It’s good to honour what we deeply desire and work towards achieving it.
But, if we’re doing it at the cost of our health, well-being and relationships, it’s time to stop and re-think.
If endless hours in a stressful job, are crushing your soul and giving you lifestyle diseases, it’s time to reconsider your definition of success.
Does that definition of success align with what you truly want?
Or have you resigned to the idea that success comes by trading your happiness and welfare? If so, it’s time to revisit what success means to you.
The current narrative of success comes from a capitalist, colonial mindset. It’s a mindset rooted in scarcity.
In many years of work as a coach, I’ve asked clients what they'd love in their lives if nothing was a limitation. Here’s what I’ve heard over and over again.
“I want to do work that’s creative, fulfilling and meaningful that allows me to earn well. I want to spend time with my family and travel the world. I want to be able to work from anywhere and at my time. I want to work from the mountains/beaches - and not be rushed.”
On a rare occasion has someone said they want to own a palace, fancy gadgets or run a billion-dollar company.
Clearly, there's a gap between what we want and what we’re pursuing.
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." ~ Herman Cain
If you were to reframe your definition of success outside a narrative that only cares for profit, what would it be?
Ponder over this question as you go for a walk or your daily run. Or as you stretch and exercise.
Journal your thoughts or voice record them on the phone.
What do you want in life? What goals are enriching, nourishing and inspiring to you? What’s Your definition of success?
Would success mean pursuing a career in something you care for or are passionate about? Performing arts, animal welfare, writing, yoga, music, technology, helping women become financially independent?
Along with profit, your definition of success could include deeper work with clients, employees and partners.
Investing and nurturing deep relationships in business and life.
Or building a community of like-minded people who share the same values and struggles.
Championing a cause you care for - thereby empowering and inspiring others. While making space for fitness and good health.
Or moving to the countryside so that you can give your children a holistic upbringing. Teaching them to be sensitive to culture, environment and instilling good values.
Or making time to write that book or poetry, even if it’s for your eyes only. Daydream and read?
Or make space for connections, creativity, solitude and self-care. Each of these replenishes you and fills you up. They better equip you to achieve revenue goals in business.
Or living a simple life so you can work at your pace and not be rushed?
Of course, we have bills to pay, responsibilities to fulfil and deadlines to meet.
You don’t need to quit your job and go live on a farm right away.
But spare a moment and think about how can you begin to align your life to what makes you happy. You can stop living by the definition of success imposed by capitalist culture.
You can begin to carve your definition of success. A definition that’s nourishing, inspiring and energising.
Think about it.
Let me know what you come up with in the comments below. Feeling stuck? Shoot me an email at email@example.com & we’ll get you some clarity.
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Are you seeking to create happiness at work? Do check The Happy Work Guide: 8 Steps to Freedom from Toxic Work.