Monica Cost

*We, in America, seem to have a very myopic view of “success”. I’m sure when you read the word “success”, dollar signs automatically popped into your head. While many individuals would include a level of financial success in their definition, it is very shortsighted to limit it to just that.

Let’s try on a few others for size “Harvard”, “Wall Street”, “Goldman Sachs”, “President of the United States”, “the Hamptons”, “Entrepreneur”, and “Evidently Assured”. Okay, so not the last one. While I would certainly include my company among those to be esteemed, I’m still building the brand. However, the other ones I mentioned typically evoke a certain response if you say you’re going to, work at, or are related to these. It may go something like “oh wow!”.

What is that? It’s the sound of success approval; a validation that you’ve arrived because of your association or position. What next? If you’re the one associated, you may feel further validated in your journey and your level of success. If you’re a bystander, then you may feel like you’ve not achieved a great level of success. Either way, the measurement may be false.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these institutions, places and/or positions, at one time or another, have earned their good brand. I’m more concerned that too many people are using someone else’s definition of success.

Let’s take a moment for you to do your own life assessment to determine if you’ve defined success for yourself. For the sake of this article, we’re going to look at life’s success as it relates to values, work, social, relationships, spirituality and finances.

Values: Take a minute to think about your top five values. What are they? Click here for a list. I.e. Commitment, adventure, contribution, decisiveness, resourcefulness, stability, etc. How do you know what your values are? You know because when you or a situation is in conflict with them, it causes a discomfort in your core, or you to stand up, in public to defend it or try to help people understand it. Identifying and understanding your values is critical because it is your compass on how to behave and what decisions to make. It acts as your GPS system for you to locate yourself in the context of where you think you are. If optimism is in your top 5, then you’ll know why your pessimistic co-worker works  your last nerve.

Work: Are you doing work that lines up with you values? Why do you do what you do? Paycheck, enjoyment, passion, skill set alignment, expectations, etc. Do you have passion for what you do? What could you talk about all day? What would you do for free if money were not an object? Assess if you are tolerating or thriving in the work you do.

Social: What kinds of friends do have? Who is your crew? Do they share your value system? Are their values in opposition to what you believe? Do they support your value system? Your social structure should support your value system.

Relationships: How does the person you’re romantically involved with make you feel? Supported? Encouraged? Adored? Respected? What are the reasons you’re with that person? Relation is an aspect or quality that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging or working together or as being of the same kind. Are you working together towards success?

Spirituality: Of or relating to your temper or disposition of mind or outlook. Is your temperament or disposition in line with your values? Are you easily agitated?  Do you feel connected to your spirit and what it needs? Do you provide nourishment for your spirit? Is your disposition one of scarcity or abundance? Are you connected to your inner self?

Finances: Are you living beyond your means? Do you value money? Do you have a healthy relationship with your finances? What are you trying to accomplish? Are your spending habits in line with your values and goals for your life?

The point of this exercise is to have you stop and think about why you do what you do. Are you living externally for others and their expectations, or for your own value system and goals?

As I’ve mentioned many times before, it is easy to assume the suggested position, where you end up in a space because it was the norm, or coveted or praised. It may have absolutely nothing to do with the life you envisioned for yourself and the values you hold dear to you.

Take a moment to assess your life. Start with your own set of values. This will give you a great gauge to use at each decision point. It won’t be easy, but you can live your truth.

Assess where you are in life. Make the necessary adjustments. Live your truth.

Monica Cost is communications strategist, brand manager and respected corporate and motivational speaker. She is the President and Founder of Evidently Assured, a communications and brand management firm.  Email her at:  [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost.