Be clear on what you are aiming for and why

 In your work? In your parenting? In your relationship? What does it really mean to be ‘successful’?

I have been noticing this recently as I chat with various people or interact with clients. For example, as I run my own business I could define success for my business as earning £Xs from it. But actually if my motivator was money I would have done far better sticking with my first career of being an Actuary (but that was dull, for me). Instead when I think ‘How is my business doing?’ I generally look at factors such as:

– Am I helping enough people to feel I’m making a difference?

– Am I enjoying it?

– Does it still fit around the kids / home life / my 4,000 hobbies?

– Is it fulfilling me?

– Am I getting bored and need to change direction?

– Do my clients feel they are getting value for money and recommend me?

– Can people who want help find me? (This has recently improved after a couple of very helpful people pointed out my website still stated that I was based in Wimbledon … that move was 18 months ago!)

By the same approach what makes a successful parent? Is it your kid getting great exam results or making the ‘A’ team for rugby? Is it about them feeling confident? Or happy? Or having friends? Or being resilient? Most parents would automatically answer that they want their kid to be happy but within that we can get confused between short term and long term happiness. For example, we might feel that in the long term they’ll be happiest if they pass lots of exams, go to Uni, get a professional job. But in the short term that might mean a lot of work and study, which doesn’t necessarily make them happy right now. It can therefore be helpful to be clear on what we are actually aiming for and what we would consider to have been ‘a success’. Next we can look at what actions (or reactions!) we make and how they support that objective, or otherwise. 

What makes a successful relationship? Some people hate conflict so much that they automatically answer ‘a lack of arguments’ but actually conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing in long term relationships. It’s a sign that something needs to change. Often more unhappiness can exist where conflict is avoided and hence tricky subjects get suppressed to fester. 

Others might want a loving relationship but you could have that and have very conflicting values and beliefs (around money, parenting, where to live etc) that cause a lot of unhappiness and stress. 

What makes a successful life? Well that’s a whole other can of worms that I won’t open up here. 

There are no clear answers on what makes work, parenting, relationships, life, running a workshop or even a night out successful. It’s all very personal. What is helpful however, I believe, is to be clear about what your definition of success is. Once you know that you have something to aim for, to align actions with, and something to measure against. Please like/comment/share. Sue X

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