Let’s start this journey by asking ourselves the most important question of all, what is success? Now before you answer, consider where your response is coming from. Many of us hold on to visions of success that are not truly our own. Outside influences play a particularly strong role in helping us to shape our ideas about what we think we should do with our lives. Success is a very personal thing and each woman’s idea about what makes her successful is as unique as the woman herself. In order to effectively define what success means to you, follow these simple steps:
The first step is to identify any external sources that have helped to mold your ideas about success. Outside influence often comes from role models, such as our parents, peers, or teachers. Society at large has played a tremendous role in limiting women’s abilities and possibilities. It’s amazing how many of us walk around trying to live up to someone else’s ideas of what we should do with our lives. There is no honor in this. Often times our most trusted role models, innocently create goals for us without allowing us the room to develop our own dreams. Furthermore, many of us have been raised in a society that shuddered at women becoming doctors and lawyers. Fortunately, things have changed and women can now do pretty much do anything they have a mind to. Decide which outside influences don’t work for you anymore (and maybe never did). After you’ve identified them.
Get rid of those rusty old ideas that don’t make you feel good. Eliminating ideas about success that don’t ring true for you is the next step in redefining success. Recognize that you are an individual who has been gifted with special and unique talents to present to the world. Whether it’s computer science or baking brownies, you possess special skills that make you feel good. In order to focus and concentrate on these qualities, you must first remove the old reruns that have been playing in your head. Does this mean that if you always loved to paint, but your parents insisted that you learn to type, and you ended up in an administrative position, that you should quit your job? Well, maybe not today, but what it does mean is that you no longer need to hold on to anyone else’s ideas of what represents a successful career. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider outside sources some of the time. Reading publications, talking with various people, and keeping current on your areas of interests are all good ways to incorporate external sources.
Now we’re at the fun part. What’s important to you? What moves you, makes you feel whole, and fills your heart with happiness? Now that you’ve identified and eliminated those pesky outside sources, it’s time to determine exactly what makes you, you. Realizing that you know yourself best is very liberating when it comes to considering our calling. Starting with a clean slate, you can now create your own definition of success. Maybe becoming a CEO of a big company has always tickled your fancy, or perhaps you prefer a life in politics. Maybe you’d like to run for president of the school PTA. It doesn’t matter if you want to become a doctor, a nurse, or an artist, the point is that whatever you consider fulfilling and rewarding is enough in itself. You already know what your talents are, now all you need to do is determine how you can put them into action. Recently, a woman I know remarked, “Yes, but to be an attorney, I’d have to go back to school and start all over”. That’s true, she would, however, we must remember the old proverb that tells us every journey starts with a single step. At least while pursuing her dreams, the journey would be filled with spectacular scenery. If you’re headed down a road not pointing toward your ultimate destination, it doesn’t matter how good the view is if it’s not getting you where you want to go.
Finally, only you can define your own personal version of success. For some it will mean a career change that might entail starting all over again. Others can simply shift their talents and skills in a new direction. Or maybe, after all is said and done, you’ve determined that you’re already doing exactly what it is you want to be doing. Good for you! The important thing to remember is that there is no one outside yourself who is qualified enough to tell you what represents success. Some of the most successful women I know stay at home managing their families while others fill support-positions that are the backbone of any corporation. Determining your lot in life is something only you can do. By identifying and eliminating outside sources of information regarding success that don’t suit your style, and by determining what it is that makes you tick, you have taken a tremendous step in redefining your own personal version of success.