The Harvard School of Business surveyed around 4,000 senior executives and asked them to define what success meant to them. Interestingly, even though our culture projects a “money makes you happy” mindset, the real life surveys revealed acquiring wealth was prioritized as the lowest definition of success, making a difference was more important. Rewarding relationships was considered the greatest achievement.
It’s said comparison is the thief of joy. Well, there’s a lot of thieving going on! Not only do we have social media tempting us to compare our lives to others, we also have the bombardment of omnipresent advertising trying to convince us we won’t be happy unless we have….healthier hair. The perfect love. A fit body. And now with the online entrepreneurial boom, we’re being told success is earning six figures a month.
I’ve seen comparisons distract my clients from the blessings they have, creating added pressure to meet the demands they think are expected of them if they want to believe they are succeeding in life. I’ve fallen into this trap myself.
If you find yourself comparing where you are to someone else, keep in mind, they have a different path than you. It doesn’t mean it’s better, or easier. God gives us all lessons to learn from. The best way to shift out of that lack mindset is to evaluate what you’re telling yourself success means to you.
Are you defining yourself by the amount of money you make? If you don’t earn what you believe you should, do you feel like a failure or not good enough?
Are you defining yourself by your relationship status? If you’re single, do you feel less confident? If you’re divorced, do you feel like you’ve failed at love? If you’re in a commitment, do you define success by what your partner has achieved?
Take a moment to question your definition of success. What creates fulfillment for you? What personal challenge have you conquered? What brings your life peace, meaning and joy? When your soul is in Heaven, how will you describe your soul’s success on earth?
There are things we are here to achieve in life, and then there is our definition of success. They’re not always interchangeable. Plenty of people achieve material wealth, but lack peace at home. Plenty of people are fit and thin, and still don’t feel happy. Lots of women reach their personal goals of marriage and children but still feel unfulfilled.
Consider changing your perspective about what success means to you.
Is losing the weight really your success, or is it the ability to love yourself more?
Is getting married really your success, or is it the effort you make to create a healthy, happy relationship?
Is getting that dream job really your success, or is your real success being courageous enough to pursue it?
Is owning a big home really your sign of success, or is it your ability to overcome a big challenge?Write down your definition of success, and read it again on those days when you feel tempted by fear-based advertising, big egos, and self-criticism. Remind yourself what success really means to you. And remember what those senior execs believed. At the end of the day, rewarding relationships create a much bigger feeling of success than material wealth. Our feelings become our thoughts, and our thoughts become what we believe about ourselves and our reality.
To read the Harvard Business Review post, click here.