I once saw a woman walking down the streets of San Francisco in a beautiful outfit — a wool coat that stayed the same shade as freshly fallen snow despite the debris of nearby construction sites swirling through the air, her hair shiny and straight and in place, not succumbing to the cool breeze coming off the Bay, and a elegantly tailored navy suit peeking through the coats, perfectly hemmed to accommodate her small, but newly shined pumps. There’s a look on her face that’s determined. She walks with purpose, a crisp copy of the Chronicle tucked tightly under her arm, a blue bottle coffee cup in one gloved-hand, and her briefcase held firmly with the other. She takes a left on California Street and heads toward her office which she left mere hours before her morning routine started. Yes, she is someone with a morning routine… she does have coffee, a newspaper, and a briefcase after all.
The person I saw was me… but a future me. A future me I wanted to see. This is what I call daydreaming between networking meetings about the person I want to be one day. It sounds weird, right? Looking put together doesn’t translate directly into success, but we all, to some degree, assume that people who look put together have it all together. However, if we apply a little logic to this assumption, it’s thinness is clear. In actuality, success is a mentality. Success is something we tell ourselves, its something we create by our own actions and drive. When you google a definition for “successful” the definition spit out is “accomplishing an aim or purpose.” So, in order to be successful, you must have an aim or purpose.
In college, I was a facilitator for a leadership retreat, and as a “thank you” gift (I suppose), the women I worked with gave me a book entitled Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Essentially, the book advocates for figuring out why you’re doing something before doing it because if there is no passion…no reason…you won’t achieve what you intend (because what you intend is unclear). This message pops up for me again and again. When I’m feeling lost or aimless, I usually go back to why I started or why I’m doing what I’m doing. Ultimately, if there is no purpose or aim success cannot exist. If you don’t have a clear mental image of what you wish to accomplish, you cannot possibly measure how you’re doing or how close you are to achieving that.
So, if you want to be successful, the best thing to do is come up with an aim or purpose. Figure out what you want to achieve. There are a lot of people who will define success differently than you and there are plenty of people who will tell you what you should do to be successful. I say ignore all the voices and listen to your own. Imagine the life you want to live, cling to the image, and pursue it with all your strength. Don’t settle; don’t become so discouraged you become convinced its impossible. Persist.
How do you measure your success?