When I started working with Fortune 100 clients, I thought I knew what success looked like. In my mind, success was invitations to black-tie events, first-class travel to exotic destinations, and a second home in the mountains.
While those things were true for many of my clients, their “success” also looked like 60-hour workweeks, vacation days that were never taken, and midnight email exchanges.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not a life I want to work toward.
After years of watching my clients chase this stressful version of success, I’ve developed my own significantly more balanced approach. My success? It involves long walks with my dog, time to do the work I love, and a few key people who help make it all possible. If that sounds more like success to you, here are five steps you can take to create your own happy, healthy version:
1. Imagine and map out your perfect day.
Success is more than a bank balance; it’s a day-to-day life you really love. It’s hard to live a "successful" life if you’re not really sure how it looks and feels. Pull out a notebook and devote some time to figuring out what your dream day looks like. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What time would you wake up?
- What would you work on?
- Would you be around people or spend most of the day on your own?
- What things would you do to support your physical, emotional, financial, and professional well-being?
2. Make a list of things that are currently part of your life but aren't part of your "perfect day."
Look over that ideal day and consider how far it is from where you are now. How is it different? Maybe your current life includes a 45-minute commute, too many spreadsheets, and a bizarre amount of time spent at the grocery store. Make note of all the things that, in a perfect, successful world, you’d edit out of your life.
3. Think about how you can remove those things from your life.
The secret to a truly successful life is doing more of what you love and less of what you don’t. That’s it!
Every single day, you can get closer to your success by finding ways to rid your life of the tasks and obligations that bring you down. Don’t like your commute? Ask your boss if you can work from home twice a week. Hate those spreadsheets? See if a co-worker or friend is willing to swap tasks. Want to spend less time in line at the store? Have your groceries delivered.
4. Regularly remind yourself of your personal version of success.
As you winnow your life down to only the things you love, you might get distracted by society’s idea of success. Don’t give in! Post visual reminders of your success somewhere you’ll see them: use vacation photos for your phone’s lock screen, or make a screensaver of a saying or image that inspires you.
5. Get in the habit of sharing your successes, whether or not they fit society’s definition.
Next time you’re at a networking event and people are sharing their wins, don’t be afraid to weigh in with yours. Tell people how you shaved 10 hours off your workweek by delegating; share the app, platform, or new mindset that helped you get your weekends back. Excitement is contagious, and you never know who’s quietly questioning their own work/life balance. Your story might be just the push they need to reevaluate the way they’re doing things!
Success comes in all shapes and sizes. You're the only one who gets to decide what it looks like for you, and you're the only one who can make it a reality.
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