Could you actually be HAPPY from being successful? The answer is a definite “YES”! The question is: What are you willing to do to get it?

When’s the last time you felt successful at work – not because someone told you how lucky you were or because you’re rewarded for a job well done?

I’m talking about the last time that you loved what you did at work because it meant something to you.

In my last post, I talked about how it’s possible to have a successful career that you just want to run away from. If that’s the case with you, then the problem may just be that your current definition of success isn’t bringing you the happiness you hoped for.

Today, we’re going through an exercise to help you redefine your success. Once you do that, you’ll actually figure out how to be happy with the goals you achieve.

To start, let’s look at your current definition of success.

Your Current Success Definition

Here’s a few standard success statements that are floating around. See if any ring a bell for you.

Success might be:
  • Going to school and getting a high-level degree
  • Getting ahead in your company.
  • Landing that raise or promotion.
  • Scoring employee of the month….again.
  • Having a high-paying salary to support your family and live a decadent lifestyle.
  • Owning your own home before you’re 30.
  • Being financially independent before 40.
  • Getting married and having kids.
  • Sending your kids to the best schools.
  • Having a nicer house than your neighbors.

Since we were young, we’ve been told that this is what success looks like, so naturally, this is what we should want….even if we don’t really want it.

Getting this kind of success doesn’t just happen, of course. It takes focus and effort to achieve.

Here are things you might be doing to get to this success:
  • Get a high-paying job
  • Work long hours
  • Take on more work responsibilities
  • Bring work home with you
  • Buy a house you can’t afford
  • Compete with your coworkers for a promotion
  • Go into management


Where Success Fails You

It looks like a good plan that’ll get you the success that you should want. But here’s where things fall apart. When you start doing things that you DON’T WANT to be doing, the consequences show up in other parts of your life.

As a result of pursuing success, you:
  • Come home tired and grumpy
  • Don’t feel accomplished even though you were working all day
  • Fight with your spouse about finances and house responsibilities
  • Miss out on little Suzy’s recital
  • Struggle to help Timmy with his homework because you’re too tired
  • Obliterate yourself in drinks because you had an awful day
  • Stop going to the gym
  • Quit dreaming about becoming an artist, actor, dancer, or writer because there’s no money there
  • Buy impulsively because you deserve it, damn it!
  • Get stressed about work and home
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Sabotage your coworkers, so you can look good
  • Are constantly running and always behind

How does any of this make you happy?

The problem with the current success model is that the consequences are just an after-thought. In this model, it’s more important to look successful rather than to feel it. It’s exactly why your friends can feel envious of you while you feel miserable about your situation.

For you to be happy, success must start with the results that you want to get.

So we’re going to turn this on its head and get you a more functional success definition.



1. What are the results you want?

Wipe the slate clean of everything that you think success is suppose to be. Let’s start with what you do want. Dream big and think about what you’d love to have.

Do you want to…
  • Enjoy interacting with your kids when you get home from work?
  • Be healthy by going to the gym 3x/wk?
  • Cook healthy meals
  • Spend quality time with your friends and family?
  • Read Kayla a bedtime story before bed?
  • Have a great supportive environment at work with your coworkers and boss?
  • Work less than 40hrs/wk?

What about vacation, being financially secure, and knowing you have a job until you retire? Do you want a less stressful job, only work half-time, freedom to be creative, fast-paced or slow-paced work environment? Alone or in a team? Development or post-production?

What do you really want for yourself, your family and your work life?

Do this. Seriously. Do it now.

This list will change over time so don’t stress about getting it ‘perfect’.

Got that? Good! On to the next step.

2. Make a new definition of success

Ha! Guess what? If you did the exercise above, then you’ve got a brand-new model of success. Turn it into a paragraph. Here’s a sample of what it might look like:

“Success means looking forward to interacting with my kids when I get home from work. It means taking care of my health by going to the gym 3x/wk and cooking some healthy meals. I want to connect with my friends and family and talk about more than just what’s going on with work. I want the energy to read Kayla a bedtime story before bed. Success means supporting my coworkers at work and getting support from my management. It means leaving work at work, so I can be home for my family…”

This paragraph is unique to you. No one else is going to have one just like it. You might find that there are statements you THINK you should have, but secretly don’t really want. Be a little selfish and only keep those statements that feel like a big ‘YES’. There’s a reason for this.

3. What can you do to get it?

You now have your own definition of success, and you can see how different it is from the old model.

As you focus on your new version, think about the things you’re doing and the habits you have that aren’t giving you the results you crave.

How can you change those?

Change is imminent because you now have a completely new direction to focus your energy on. And change change be hard which is why each part of your success definition needs to feel impactful to motivate you into action.

Here’s some examples of changes you might make:
  • Take an extra day off work once a week
  • Say ‘no’ when work tasks come your way
  • Let go of getting a raise/promotion
  • Go to a less stressful job
  • Stop bringing work home
  • Only work xx hours and no more
  • Go to the gym after work
  • Find other things to talk about besides work
  • Schedule your kids into your calendar.


4. Go Get it

Pick one thing out of your list and take action this week! Lay out what results you’ll get from this one thing. When you see why you’re making the change, you’re more apt to do it.

Go and have some fun with this. Remember, this isn’t a list of things you’re supposed to do. It’s a list of ideas that’ll help you take control of your situation so you can enjoy your work and your life a whole lot more. Experiment and enjoy!


Feature photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash