Do you often find yourself thinking “I want to be successful” yet feel like you’re working too hard to achieve it? Are you successful on paper yet feel unfulfilled in life? Do you often work hard to achieve your goals, and then wonder why you’re not happy once you successfully achieve them?
If this is you, you’re not alone. In my experience, many high-achieving professionals constantly hustle and push themselves only to find themselves successfully unhappy. The good news is that you’ve been missing something happily successful folks know… and you can fix it.
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Success Isn’t Just About Achievement
Most of us define success based purely on achieving something – and it’s often based on status and/or money. 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 and we’ll find success (and be happy).
I used to think success was about doing and having “it all” and by hustling through the tough times. Like many people, I figured that eventually I’d get to where I wanted to be and finally find happiness. But unfortunately, after hustling for several years and finding myself feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and incredibly unhappy, I realized that success wasn’t what I originally thought it was. Because, although others considered me “successful”, I didn’t feel it.
The truth is: you can 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. That’s not success.
Being successful means that you feel like a success. If you don’t feel successful, then you’re not. Success isn’t just about achievement. The key to success starts with how you define it and how you choose to live your version of success.
Please note: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals or work hard for them. Instead, I’m telling you that you’ll never feel good about your success if you don’t set the right foundation, regardless of how hard you work.
It’s time to redefine what success means to you, in a way that serves you better.
Introducing the GROW Method
How I Discovered Real Success
During the early days of my legal career, I thought I was successful. I certainly was by society’s terms. I was an attorney in a big Texas law firm (a life-long dream) and made great money. I could buy myself whatever I wanted, had a nice car, and lived in a big house in a great neighborhood. Initially, it felt good. After all, I was a long way from the young girl who was made fun of for wearing the same clothes over and over at school.
Yet I quickly felt like something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it for some time, but something felt off despite how hard I worked and all of my achievements. Instead of feeling happy, I was stressed and felt like I was wasting my life.
Thanks to my husband pointing out that I had a choice as to how I lived my life, I eventually realized that I was the problem. I’d been defining success all wrong. The definition for success that I’d been using didn’t have any real meaning for me. It wasn’t based on who I was on the inside.
This realization opened a new door for me. I knew that I had a choice and that my definition needed to be based on my needs, my values, and my priorities for my life. That’s when I came up with the GROW Method (although I didn’t give it the fancy name until recently). The GROW Method is a process for redefining success on your own terms so that you can achieve success and happiness.
What is the GROW Method and How Does It Work?
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. You’ll go from thinking of success as something that you achieve (and includes a bunch of stuff you don’t really care about) and transform it into a vision for how you want to live your life.
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.
[Recommended Reading: How to Achieve Work Life Balance (3-Step Blueprint)].
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
Part of being and feeling successful means to feel fulfilled, whole, and confident in yourself. That’s the point of wanting to be successful. And the only way to feel that way is to ensure your core needs are being met (it’s what helps you feel whole and satisfied with yourself and the world) and to honor your values (they are what give you purpose).
Thus, your definition of success should be based on your core values and needs. Which means that it’s time to get clear on what they are and how to meet and honor them.
Your core needs are those needs that must be met if you want to feel cared for, respected, and whole. To help you get clarity around them, look to times when you’ve been most hurt or felt disrespected by other people. Also look to when you’ve felt most exposed and/or insecure. Especially look for common themes (as the commonalities will point to a core need).
Ask yourself what was being violated (e.g., what need wasn’t getting met or was being disrespected) in these instances. And get specific about what this needs means. What precisely do you need for it to be met?
For example, 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 hence 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.
Personal values are what give your life meaning and purpose – and they act as a compass for how you live your life (even if you’re not aware of them). To determine your core personal values (meaning, those that are so important that they must be honored if you’re to feel fully YOU), look again to your past. Consider when you’ve been most upset with yourself and ask what you did (or didn’t do) that made you so upset.
And again look for common themes. The reason behind why you were upset with yourself will related to your personal values.
As with your core needs, define your values with specificity (otherwise it will be difficult to move on with the GROW Method). Because your values are so important to your sense of worthiness and well-being, I have a Guidebook you can snag to help you clarity and define your values (see below).
For example, one person might define their core value of being present as being fully attentive to the people they interact with. Someone else may define presence as being attuned to 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.
[Recommended Reading: How to Redefine Yourself Into Happiness].
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.
[Recommended Reading: How to Be Successful and Happy at the Same Time].
Putting It All Together
It’s time to redefine what success means to you using the GROW Method – and start living your life to its fullest YOUR WAY.
To get started, download the Inner Compass Guidebook to Finding Purpose. This will help you get clarity around your values so you can start living your life according to YOU.
Going through this process will align how you live with you you really are. And it will help you reorient your goals and activities with your new definition of success. So you can finally feel like you’re living your life according to YOUR RULES.
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…
P.S. For a step-by-step blueprint for achieving success from the inside-out (on your terms) so that you can feel calm, confident and in control while enjoying real success (that feels good and without settling), grab your copy of the Inside-Out Success Blueprint here: