What does success look like?

This is part 3 of my post on success. You can click here and here to read my first two posts on this topic.

One thing that has been changing for me over the past few years has been my definition of success. What would have to happen in order for me to feel that I had achieved success? What would that “home run” look like for me?

Would it mean I had achieved great recognition?

Would it mean I had made a lot of money?

Maybe it would mean I had a huge circle of great friends?

Perhaps it would mean my children were well-behaved and achieved educational goals we had set for them.

Or maybe it would mean I had affected someone’s life in a positive and lasting way.

I had a unique experience with my home-based business the past few years. It was unusual because when I started it, I didn’t have any intention of being successful. I simply wanted to earn a little extra income, and the opportunity sort of fell into my lap. I didn’t go looking for it. It found me.

Well, I found that I was naturally good at this type of business. And within a couple of years, I started earning a lot of recognition for my success, not to mention some awesome vacations to tropical locations. For three years in a row, I received an honor that was most special to me: the Woman of the Year award.

The cool thing about this award is that it’s not something a person can try to achieve. The company looks at your stats in 14 categories that cover every aspect of the business. The person who has the highest overall ranking in every category is honored with the award. Since I wasn’t able to track how other people were doing, I couldn’t possibly adjust my performance in one area to try to “win”.

But many women in my business also jokingly refer to the Woman of the Year award as the Kiss of Death. That is because many women quit the business the year after they are named Woman of the Year.

Why? In my experience, it’s because it’s nearly impossible to maintain over a long period of time, and it’s such a let-down to fail to live up to the standard of being Woman of the Year. So, instead of going on to have an average year (which still might still be an exceptional year in reality), these all-or-nothing ladies, like myself, would prefer to quit. They have achieved the best they can achieve. It’s time to move on and try something new.

This type of success also came with a startling revelation. While it was really fun to be recognized for a few days at convention, on an incentive trip or during another event for being Woman of the Year, it didn’t carry over to any other aspect of my life.

Women would treat me like a rockstar for a few days of the year, seeking me out for advice and taking hurried notes during a seminar I gave at convention. But then I would return home to piles of laundry, dirty diapers and an empty refrigerator.

“Wait a minute! Don’t you people know I am WOMAN OF THE YEAR!” I wanted to shout. But the empty milk jug really didn’t care.

I realized after the first year how hollow this type of success made me feel. It was fun and it gave me a little high to feel successful, but it didn’t carry with it any lasting value.

When it comes to my business, I had to completely change my focus. Working hard to achieve recognition wasn’t worth it. I needed to achieve a certain level of income and with that, sometimes I would naturally also receive recognition. I also wanted to help other women be successful. And again, that might bring me recognition. But the recognition alone did not give a lasting feeling of success.

In my personal life, I also have been evaluating what “success” would look like. What would be my home run? When I get to the end of my life, how would I want to be remembered? More about that coming up.

I would love to hear from you. What does your success barometer look like? Have you ever achieved great success and found out later that it wasn’t what you thought it would be?

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