by Marcella Burnard
The measure of success or failure amounts to a relatively simple flow chart. It does, however, assume that you're doing what you enjoy doing in a relatively safe and sane fashion. Ish on the sane part of the equation. Yep. Glass house in regards to sanity. I do not thrown stones.
So. Flow chart (which is not my specialty, so cut me some slack on this masterpiece):
Simplistic? Probably. At least half of that is my utter lack of knowing how to do either flowcharts or MS paint. But honestly. The best measure of success is how you feel. Success is such a packed and packaged word, isn't it? Society defines it for us and drills it into our heads all through school - straight A's are success. So's being a sports hero. And yet neither of those things confers any sort of advantage out in the big bad world. A couple of studies (here's a condensation) indicating that average students are more successful (there's that word again) in the work place than their A student peers. So clearly letting someone else define success isn't really all that helpful.
The only definition that matters, in my opinion, is your own. However, figuring out what your definition of success is can be a pretty big challenge given the baggage most of us associate with the word. I think it pays to get clear on what success or failure are to you. Plenty of books in the world skirt around the edges of helping you do that. Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte is one of the latest. The self-help shelves are full of other examples. Envy turns out to be a good road map - look at who and what you envy. What is it about the person(s) that makes you ache to be like them? What, specifically, do the things you envy convey about how you want success to feel?
How many NYT bestselling authors are there in the world? A lot? How many do I envy? Only a few. I know who they are and I have a list detailing what it is I want to do with my career based on my analysis. (There are even a couple of musical acts on my envy list - not because I have delusions of rock n' roll grandeur.) My point is look at what flips your green-eyed monster switch. There are messages about how you define success embedded in that uncomfortable emotion.
Figure out how to define your success. Then grapple your life into a shape that makes room for you to chase that definition.