Success isn’t as elusive as most of us think. The trick is to first really lock down how to define success. Once you do that, it’s far easier to reach your goals. This isn’t my concept. It was Charles Kettering who said that a problem defined is half solved. Let’s but Charlie’s theory to the test and see if it holds water.
How to Define Success
Obviously, only you can define what success means for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to blaze your own path. Quite the contrary, my experience tells me that there is a standard process that you can use and still derive your own unique answers.
Step 1. What’s Important About Time and Money to You?
Bill Bachrach* introduced me to a variation of this question a dozen years ago. Bill suggested that these are the key queries that help you uncover your core values in life. Take a moment and write down what’s important about to money to you. Then replace “money” with “time” and write down your answers again.
When I sit down with a new client I always ask these questions. Usually people share some variation of the following answers:
- Financial Security for the Family
- Spiritual Connection (in some cases)
In other words, people often tell me that they define success by having enough money to ensure security for their family, health and travel. And they feel successful when they have enough time to enjoy their family, take care of their health, travel and (sometimes) pursue a spiritual connection of their own choosing.
Your list might include similar answers or you might have a completely different set of responses. It doesn’t matter. There are no right or wrong answers. What’s important is to write down your replies to these two all-important questions. Please don’t go to the next step until you have written your answers down on a clean piece of paper. Thank you.
Step 2. Drill Down
Now that you’ve defined what success looks like generally, we need to sharpen the picture. If security for your family is important, what do you have to do to achieve that goal? What has to happen in order for you to feel successful in having financial security for your family? Does it mean you have to be debt-free? Do you have to save a certain amount of money each month? Does it mean having the proper amount of life insurance in place? Does it mean having a certain amount invested? What does it look like for you?
If travel is important, where do you want to travel? When? For how long? How much do you want to travel each year? How much will it cost?
Look back to your list of answers to what is important about time and money. For each response, write down specific, tangible targets of what has to happen in order to know that you are successful in that endeavor.
Once you go through this exercise, share it with a loved one or friend. That will give you a reality check and it will also be declaration to the world of what you aim to achieve. And don’t worry if you feel success if beyond your reach. Tomorrow we’ll discuss how to get into action around your goals and be successful no matter what.