I am a leader, veteran, wife, mother, mentor and entrepreneur. The first 28 years of my career were in the Canadian Armed Forces from which I retired at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. My husband jokes that I was born into the military, as both my parents are also veterans. I am grateful to the family members, friends, colleagues and mentors whose insights and advice helped me achieve success.
Throughout my career and as a volunteer in the community, I’ve made a point of being available to those who had concerns about how their careers were progressing. In 2007, I codified the lessons I’ve learned into five building blocks to achieving success. Since then I’ve written and spoken about these building blocks and several of the tactics you can use to help find a balanced path to success.
If you believe you are a success, then you are. This is equally true for Chief Executive Officers of Fortune 500 companies, as it is for homemakers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, military
professionals, artists, actors, and those who dedicate their lives to their religion. Knowing what you are passionate about and what you want to achieve, is the first step. Once you know what your goals are, you can start mapping your path to success. In a perfect world you would earn a living pursuing a career that you are passionate about.
As you develop your definition of success, it is important to be honest with yourself about your abilities, interests and goals. You can be passionate about golf, but lack the skills and coordination to
make a living as a professional golfer. On the other hand, you may have a way with words and a history of convincing people that they should buy, attend, or support whatever you write about. In that case it would likely be better to pursue a career in marketing than a career as a golfer. Better yet, you may decide that your definition of success would be to pursue a career in marketing all things golf!
A good way to determine your passion is to think about how you would spend your time on an average perfect day. Yes, I meant what I wrote – I’m not trying to create a new oxymoron. An average perfect day is an average day in your perfect life. We all have good days, not so good days, and average days. Imagine if you were leading your perfect life; what would you do on an average day? If you’re having trouble with this, reminisce about what brought you joy as a child and reflect on what you enjoy most in your current life. Yes, I said life, not career. Your career is important but it may be that what you are passionate about is NOT what you are doing in your current career. You may be pursuing your passion as a volunteer, while working at a career simply to pay the bills. Once you’ve envisioned your average perfect day write it down, share it with a trusted friend, record yourself speaking about it, or create a vision board. If you’ve never heard of a vision board check out this great blog for easy to follow advice http://christinekane.com/how-to-make-a-vision-board/.
Success means different things to different people. I’ve met parents who chose to stay home to provide their young children a nurturing environment, who transfer that passion into successful careers helping others, as the children get older and more independent. I’ve met millionaire entrepreneurs who live well below their means because the things that many of us consider as the outward signs of success mean very little to them. All of these people are happy following their definition of success.
As an aside, if you’re interested in learning how most millionaires live then go to your library or local bookstore and find the books written by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD. I loved reading Millionaire Women Next Door and look forward to reading The Millionaire Next Door. You can learn more about Dr. Stanley at his webpage http://www.thomasjstanley.com/.
Spending time defining your perfect life is a crucial step in determining both your passion and your definition of success. Remember that you are the only person who can truly define what success
means to you. Well-meaning family and friends, work colleagues, fellow students, and even complete strangers all feel free to share career advice. The only person you MUST listen to is yourself. I do respectfully ask that you please pick something that does not harm others or the environment and is legal!
As I share future blogs on this topic I look forward to hearing about what success means to you, and how you set about to achieve it.