Are you working hard to achieve success, but feel like you’ll never get there?  Do others think of you as being “successful”, but you don’t feel it yourself?  Do you ever work hard to achieve your goals, but once you achieve them, you don’t feel as happy or successful as you thought you would?

If this describes you, I’ve got a message for you:  you’ve been missing something.  Something that most of us miss (but truly successful people know).

Most of us define success according to outward appearances, achievement of certain goals, or things we think we’re supposed to be doing or achieving (often because of a role we play in the world).  Things such as:

  • Making a certain amount of money.
  • Being considered an expert in our field.
  • Having a big house and/or expensive car.

And we’ve been convinced that all we need to do is work hard to achieve our goals.

But you could work hard and amass all the money in the world, be the leading expert in your field, and be thought of as successful by others, yet feel empty inside.  Because that’s not what success is.

Being successful means that you feel like a success.  And if you don’t feel successful, then you’re not.  It’s about more than working hard to achieve your goals.  The key to success starts with how you define it and how you choose to live your version of success.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have goals or work hard.  Because you do.  But you’ll never feel successful if you don’t set the right foundation.  No matter how hard you work.

Today, I want you to analyze how you’ve been defining success for yourself.  And to redefine it in a way that serves you better.

The GROW Method

Before I had cancer, I thought I was successful.  I was an attorney with a good book of business. I made great money.  I also had a big house that my husband and I designed and built.

Yet, despite these accomplishments, I felt like something was missing.  And I couldn’t put my finger on the missing link.  So, I kept going about life the way I always did.  Setting goals to increase my book of business and make more money.

And then cancer hit.  Facing my mortality forced me to rethink how I’d been living my life up to that point.  And I started to realize what the missing link was.  I’d been defining success incorrectly for myself.  Because it didn’t have much meaning for me.  And it wasn’t based on who I was on the inside.

So, I redefined what success meant to me.  Based on who I am, what I want, and how I want to live my life.  And I came up with a process to help me redefine success for myself.  A process I call the GROW Method.

The GROW Method is a process to help you discover how you’ve been defining success (and why), what to throw out, how to redefine it your way, and how to be (and feel) more successful.  It’s a different way of looking at what success means and will transform the way you think about it.  Into a vision for your life and how you live it.

Implementing the GROW Method will make you happier, more confident, and feel more successful in life.  Even before you achieve your goals.  And it will increase the likelihood that you’ll achieve the goals you set for yourself.

G = Get Rid of What’s Not Yours

The first step in the GROW Method requires you to ditch the world’s definition of success and the definition(s) that you learned as a child.  Those things that you think you’re supposed to want or go after because it’s what society or your family believes to be important.  These are called “shoulds”.

A “should” is an unwritten rule, familial expectation, or societal standard that you’ve adopted because you feel you’re expected to – often because of a role you play, your career/profession, or family expectations (or what you think they expect of you).  And you’ve undoubtedly adopted some of these standards as part of your definition of success without knowing it.

It’s time to root these “shoulds” out and leave them behind.  Because, although those definitions may work for others, they’re not yours.  And if you use a definition of success that doesn’t align with who you are, then you’ll never feel very successful.  Even if you achieve “success” as you’ve been defining it. 

So, take a deep look at your current definition of success and ask yourself what “shoulds” have been included.  And ditch them.

R = Reassess Your Needs and Values

I’ve previously written about how to determine your core needs and personal values – and why they matter.   It’s time to reassess what they mean to you with specificity.

Part of being and feeling successful means to feel happy, whole, and confident in yourself.  That’s the point of wanting to be successful.  Which means that your definition of success should be based on your core values and needs.  Because your needs must be fully met to feel whole and satisfied.  And your values are what give you purpose.

So, review your values and your core needs and ask yourself what each one means to you.  Define them specifically and thoroughly.  Think about what it takes to meet your needs and how you must act and be to honor your values.

I’ll give you a few examples.  Let’s say that you have a core need to feel secure.  That could mean different things to different people.  One person with this need could be talking about financial security and needing to have a certain amount of savings and investments.  Someone else with this need might define it as feeling secure in their job and the role they play within their family.

Now, let’s look at the value of being present.  One person with this value could define it as being fully attentive to everyone they interact with.  Someone else may define presence by noticing as much as possible of the world around them.

Not only do we all have unique needs and values, but we define them differently for ourselves.  And I want you to define yours.  Because you must incorporate them into how you define success for yourself.

O = Overcome Your Objections

Letting go of societal standards and redefining success your way may bring forth some fear and vulnerability.  And you’ve likely found one or more of your core needs or values makes you anxious, embarrassed, or uncomfortable.

We’re taught that it’s wrong to place too much (or any) value on certain things.  Things such as: risk, attractiveness, having fun, wealth, to excel or be the best, to have influence, to win.  And we’ve been conditioned to think that being “successful” and admitting we want success is selfish or greedy.  Especially if we value or want to make more money, have prestige, or be well thought of.

If you’re one of those people, it’s time to stop judging yourself and overcome this thinking.  Because everyone wants to be successful.  It’s normal to want to make money, live well, be thought of positively, influence others, feel good, look good, and excel at what we do.  It’s even okay.  Wanting these things isn’t bad.  And you can do much good with them.  It’s time to trust yourself and accept who you are.

One other thing that may be holding you back is fear.  Fear that you’ll start caring about being successful, yet won’t make it.  But here’s the thing: you’re more likely to succeed if your definition of success is defined your way.  Because it will be something you’ll want to work towards.

Besides, you’ll never be or feel successful if you don’t define it appropriately for yourself.  It’s time you own up to that.

W = Way of Being

Success isn’t static.  It’s not something that you get to and then stop doing.  Success is a way of living and being.  To be your best, you must continually learn and grow.  And that’s part of being successful – to acknowledge that there’s always something more to do, learn, and achieve.

Being successful requires curiosity.  About life and those around you.  About yourself and how to learn and grow forever.  This means that your definition of success isn’t an end-point.  It’s your vision for how you want to live your life.  And you can start living this way now. 

This doesn’t mean that you won’t have goals.  Because you will.  But you’ll no longer define success purely based on achievement of these goals.  Instead, your goals (and the actions you take to achieve your goals) will be part of how you choose to live out your success definition.

When you view success as a way of living (and view your goals as pieces to your overall success puzzle), you’ll find that you’re more open to learning.  Especially from any surprises or setbacks that occur while you’re trying to achieve your goals.  And, instead of seeing these as failures, you’re more likely to learn from them and change course.  Which will lead to more success along the way.

Putting It All Together

It’s time to redefine what success means to you using the GROW Method.  So you can start living your life to its fullest – your way.  I want you to go through the above process and redefine success for yourself.  To help you, I’ve put together a worksheet.   This worksheet has a series of questions that will take you step-by-step through the GROW Method.  To get it, fill out the form below (and it will be sent directly to your inbox):


Once done, you should have a new definition that’s based on who you are.  Which will start making you feel more successful almost immediately.  Because you’ll be honoring who you are in how you live – and your goals, actions, and way of living will align with your definition of success.

Before you go, I want to hear from you.  In the comments below, tell me what you’ve discovered about how you’ve been defining success that isn’t aligned with who you are (and hence, you’ve decided to drop it from your definition).  Your courage to speak up will help others, so please do so.

Until next time…