Many of us define success by what we’ve accomplished in our work. I get it and understand why. But, I’d like to propose a new and different way of defining success.
Imagine defining success not by what you do but by how much JOY you have in your life. Is that a radical idea for you? Let’s explore the reasons why and how to cultivate more JOY.
Why the shift?
In recent conversations with senior executive women, one CEO shared how she feels driven to always push for results. As a CEO of a billion dollar company, she heavily focuses on outcomes and the accomplishments of the company. Of course, many busy executives feel this same push, to constantly and consistently produce tangible results.
Allowing herself to be vulnerable, she shared that while she likes the success that comes with being “outcome driven”, she wishes she could feel more content in each present moment. Can you identify? I venture to say that most ambitious leaders struggle with this and quite frankly, I’m continuing to work on it as well.
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How to Change Your Perspective
Being a go-getter comes with a lot of benefits for you and those you serve. We get stuff done faster than most, we envision where we’re meant to go and find a path to get there. We’re organized and find ways to cut through the red tape. We are on a mission and are determined to succeed.
But this forward-looking view has its challenges too. For one, spending more time on what tomorrow will look like can truly rob you of seeing the beauty of today.
The strive to succeed can also have an underlying tone that today is not quite good enough. Or, we simply overlook today’s wins as our minds have already moved on to the next important milestone. Simply said…
The yearning for tomorrow has the potential to destroy the JOY of today.
Because this is a topic I currently toil with, I’ve spent some time thinking about what I can do to find JOY in the present moment.
Here are a few habits I’m committing to on a daily basis:
1. Celebrate daily successes:
I find that I don’t spend enough time truly acknowledging my wins each day. As an example, I’ve recently been working on cultivating a partnership with an organization that will allow me to share the gifts and talents of our health coaches with a broader audience. As you know, partnerships take time. You build relationships, talk about the potential win-win for each party, talk more specifically about the terms of the agreement, and then, after months of courtship, you finally sign the dotted line.
Well, guess what – that happened yesterday! What did I do? Nothing. I filed the agreement and moved on to the next thing on my to-do list.
Hours later I sat down to write this blog and it finally dawned on me that I was about to rob myself of the most important moment. I almost didn’t celebrate this accomplishment and all it took to get to this point.
And yes, this may have been a ‘bigger’ success, but I’m now determined to take time each day to celebrate the small wins too. Like having a gratitude practice where I thank God for all the beautiful moments in my life. I also give gratitude to myself and what it’s taken to get to this point.
2. Find JOY in what you LOVE:
For many of us our work seems to be the only place we find opportunities for success which equals (for us) JOY. With that said, I think an important question to ask ourselves is ‘where do we find purpose and JOY outside of work?’
When you watch new moms, you see a light in their eyes as they pour all their love into their baby. In those moments their job becomes (rightfully so) secondary.
I’m not about to have a baby to fill a void, but I think it’s a good illustration of what I’m considering for myself. What can I pour my love into? For me, it might be finally getting the dog I’ve been debating about for so long. Being single but full of love, I must find a way to share that love.
“Love is the beauty of the soul.”
– Saint Augustine
For you, it might be a question of finding purpose outside of work doing something you love. Consider dedicating yourself to a good cause. Research shows that volunteering can give your life more meaning and therefore make you happier.
So, what will give you purpose and JOY outside of work? Give it some thought and pour yourself into it.
3. Let go of subconscious beliefs:
Ask yourself for a moment why you actually strive so hard to succeed at work? Is it because it makes you feel special when you succeed? Do you want to be the best at something or believe that you should always strive for more and more?
All of these are subconscious programs that we picked up in the early years of our life. In school, we learned that those who knew the answer to a question were celebrated while those who became the quarterback on the football team or the prom queen were loved. In those years of childhood, we learn how we can ‘earn’ love. And today, without realizing it, we still strive to succeed for these exact same reasons.
Become conscious of those underlying reasons and recognize that those beliefs are based on false premises (i.e. the idea that you have to do something or be someone to be lovable and worthy). In my workshops and keynote presentations I speak at length about this and offer an easy solution to remove such unwanted beliefs.
4. Allow yourself to get into a flow state:
Most of us have heard of the “flow state.” This mental state describes someone who is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus and enjoyment in the process of an activity. Time seems to fly by as you’re in ‘the zone’.
How often does your intuition tell you to do one thing but, because it’s not as high of a priority on your to-do list as other things, you ignore it? This little nudge or intuitive guidance is your soul desiring to do a specific thing. What if next time you felt this, you decided to act on it?
Just yesterday I had one of those moments. My to-do list told me what was next but my intuition led me down a different path. First, I just dabbled into the low priority project and heard how the voice in my head kept yelling at me to stop and focus on ‘what’s really important’.
But I also heard the small whisper of the inner creative that loved the artistic work my mind wanted to get lost in. I finally gave in and allowed myself a full hour to do the creative tasks. I LOVED it and it energized me so much that afterwards the work on my to-do list seemed to flow with such grace and ease.
I experienced what it felt like to be back in the flow and I’ve committed myself to listening to the small inner voice more and more often. Let’s do this together.
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