Create Your Own Definition of Success

The Covid19 pandemic is forcing most people to take stock of what’s really important to them and to question and re-define their personal success definition.

Successful women (and men) have an inner drive and vision that allows them to take advantage of opportunities that others do not seize.  This pandemic is a crisis and an opportunity.  Do you have a personal definition of success?  If not, maybe you should consider developing one.

What is success?

Traditional definition:  attainment of wealth, favor, or power.

Quote from a successful woman business owner named Lillian Vernon: “Success is measured not necessarily by what others see, but what they don’t see – personal self-worth.  Success is accomplishing what you most wish for yourself.”

My personal definition: Living in a place I love, with people I love, doing work that energizes me, and contributing to the good of society.  In short, integrating all the things that are important to me into a coherent whole.

While I have not been as successful as I would like in all areas, I’ve done pretty well in most of them, and I am still working on the rest. For example, professionally, I am a trailblazer in aerospace (retired), a well-respected international executive coach/mentor, and the author of a best-selling book entitled Get Out Of Your Own Way. Personally, I’ve been married for the past 35 years. My husband is still my sweetie (most of the time). All our children (blended family) are adults and successful in their respective careers. There have also been setbacks, in fact tsunamis, such as family and personal illness, and losing property during the financial downturn. And, a personal tsunami we are all still facing is the Covid 19 pandemic – a perfect storm for re-assessing what success means to each of us.

What is your personal definition of success?


Personal success definitions are not static, they change over time and based on life circumstances. Depending on the stage of your life, different elements are more important in your personal definition of success. Gail Sheehy provides excellent insights into what happens at each stage of life in her books, “Passages” and “Pathfinders”.  Also, the challenges one must face in reaching a particular goal can change over time.  Not only are there the challenges discussed above, but also changes caused by marriage/divorce, raising children, illness (yours or a family member), career challenges, financial challenges, just to name a few.  I’m sure you can each add to this list.

Getting on track

Want to start or expand your own personal success plan, but having trouble getting started?

Here are a few suggestions on how to start the process.

  • Change your thinking, change your life.
  • Believe in yourself, create a vision for yourself, and be willing to take responsibility for your own future.
  • Change your attitude – attitude determines outlook. Choose how you set your priorities, how you spend your time, and what you think.
  • Avoid or remove negative beliefs that could be holding you back. For example, I can’t get ahead because of… (divorce, downsizing, money, education, etc.)
  • When faced with a challenging situation, believe that you can do whatever it takes. Choose to deal with your circumstances. Focus on what you can learn from a situation and on how to deal with it productively.
  • Adopt a “why not” approach. Ask the question “What would it feel if I could …”. Fill in the blank. Then identify one small step you can take to start exploring the possibility of making it happen.
  • Remember the importance of flexibility.
  • Stretch your comfort zone.
  • Practice optimism


Some steps for getting unstuck

Some people want to change their thinking and their lives but don’t because they feel stuck.  To get unstuck, you have to work at it. It takes time to explore different possibilities.  Keep in mind that flexibility and opportunity go hand in hand. Here are some tips to help you get unstuck:

1. Take little steps toward your goal.  Do something every day.

Push yourself out of the box all the time, if you aren’t, your skill sets are dying.

2. Connect with other people (in person and/or online)

Attend seminars and lectures.

Join industry organizations.

Talk to other people about what they do and their road to success.

3. Keep a “have done” list.

Keep track of your accomplishments, both big and small

4. Acknowledge the things you do have control over

When faced with situations that seem out of your control, analyze the situation and look for areas you can control.

When you identify the many different things you can control, you regain your sense of having the power to choose.

5. Learn to say no.

Don’t say “yes” to people just because they ask you for something.  Stay focused.  Consider whether or not the request moves you in your desired direction, or whether it’s important to say yes because of a relationship that is important to you.

6. Ask for Support.

Create a network of support – part of your value is in the relationships that you have built over the years. Consider personal and professional networks which can include family, peers, coaches, people knowledgeable about your areas of interest. You can also gain supportive information from books, educational programs, seminars, etc.

Conclusion – On to Wild Success, Your Way!!!

Ask yourself questions about your goals, values, and personal definitions of success.

Use results to find new insights and actions.

Determine your own definition of success.

Keep in mind that the safety net that we each want do NOT exist.  It’s an illusion. Take a risk and Go For It.

Find your own entrepreneurial spirit.  It can serve you in all areas of your life.



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