Do you see yourself as successful? Do you often think about whether you are more or less successful than, say, the guy or gal who lives next door to you? Let’s put comparisons aside for this post, because you will always – always – be able to find people who exemplify society’s tangible (and in many ways superficial) definition of success. This post is all about you. What does the word “Success” mean to you?
This is an important question for you to answer for several reasons:
- Until you have defined it you can’t align your behavior around it.
- You could chase something and catch it, only to realize that “this ain’t it”.
- Achievement in one part of your life could require making sacrifices in other parts that are significant to you. Are you willing to make those sacrifices – make the investment for success as you define it?
- Until you answer the question “Who wins along with you?” you won’t know the lengths to which you will or will not go to advance your own agenda.
For the moment let’s talk about your success as an individual rather than you in your professional role. You may or may not have each of these sections in your life, but the Life Wheel is representative for most people. In what sections do you have written goals? Chances are that they are the areas on which you are placing the most focus.
Here’s a point that’s important to remember: It doesn’t matter in which section(s) of the life wheel you commit your time and energy and invest your money. What matters is that the alignment of the wheel works for you. What matters is that you are consciously choosing your definition of success rather than falling into one by force of momentum or somebody else’s goals for you.
Are you willing to sacrifice your physical health and your family life for your job? Some people are willing to do so, some make a choice to do so just for limited period of time, and some aren’t willing to sacrifice at all in those areas. Again, your choice is not as important as it is that you MAKE a conscious choice.
There is the issue of sustainability – if you injure your body severely enough in the process of doing your job there might be only a limited window of time in which you can do your job. If you don’t sharpen the mental saw from time to time your ability to be effective might erode as your industry’s body of knowledge moves forward. And lack of social connectedness can lead to depression. You can’t have friends if you’re always too busy with something else.
Are you striving for balance in your life? Balance doesn’t necessarily mean that you are committing focus in equal parts every day in all parts of the wheel. Beyond your long-term success definition, there is a life stage factor that enters into the management of your life wheel – when you are young and unattached, Social is a section that receives a lot of attention, as does Mental when you are in the formal education part of your life. Family and Career tend to take over later as your life progresses, just because that’s often what comes next.
Excellence in one area might mean that you have to shift resources from one segment of the wheel to another. You might have to choose to reduce some social time to find the time to work out. But don’t assume that pursuing one segment of your life wheel means giving up in another. You can exercise with your family, or you can take a class with a friend. You can create high-leverage activities that invest simultaneously in several segments of your wheel.
Stress can result from too many things going on at one time. But more often, stress results from a misalignment, a conflict between what you want to be doing in your life and what you are actually doing. If you feel stress and you can’t identify its source, take a look at the life wheel – your life wheel. Determine whether you have allowed yourself to be swept along into making unintentional compromises. You have the opportunity to make a new choice, starting today. You can live your own best life once you decide in your conscious mind what it looks like. Then, and only then, can you take the right steps to manifest it in real time.