What is your version of success?

We all think we know what success means for us.

We know if we feel successful or not.


When did you last stop to think about what success really means for you?

And perhaps more importantly, when did you last stop and think about whether your definition if success in life, was aligned with your definition of success at work?

For so many people, these are misaligned.

In life, a typical definition of success might go something like:

“Be able to do the things I want to do, spend time with my family and loved ones, see friends regularly, travel, stay healthy”

Often it’s rooted in having time to do things. But compare this to typical work success:

“Finish this project, gain promotion, make X per year, be able to retire in Y years, take my companies revenue to Z, win a specific award…”

They’re often based on status, or money.

When these two definitions of success become misaligned, this can cause significant unhappiness.

I’m not saying the definitions have to be the same. They don’t. But they have to be compatible.

The classic non compatibility is that time spent on work objectives, means there just isn’t enough left to pursue life objectives. Work takes over life, work becomes resented, performance at work suffers and neither success objective is met.

Sad face.

So how do we align our work and life objectives?

My method is pretty simple:

Decide whether work or life is more important to you, and prioritise it.

Then, align the other with your chosen priority.

This is something so many of us fail to do. We don’t realise that we have not defined our own version of success. We’ve continually accepted the definition that’s been given to us, and chased it hard. And the only version of success that someone else is going to give you is your employer’s definition success at work. So guess what we focus on?

From getting good grades at school, to the right university, the right job, the right promotion – if we stop and think, are any of these really definitions of success that we’ve chosen?

I have no intention of perpetuating the problem and telling you what your success should be.

If work, career and making money is most important to you, that’s fine, embrace it. But you might have to accept that some life success criteria could suffer. It’s ok though – if you align what you want out of life with what you want out of your career, you’ll be happy.

For most of you reading this, it’s perhaps more likely you’d prefer to prioritise life. If that is how you feel, then take some time deciding what a successful life is, and then look at how work can support that.

Thinking that way round (life first, work second) can be a powerful shift.

How you see success is the foundation of any work life balance you try to achieve – if you’re trying to balance two things with competing objectives, you’ll have a much harder time than if their success criteria are aligned.

So if you want to create a better work life balance, don’t just focus on the symptoms of not being happy. Instead, consider if the foundations and goals of the two aspect’s you’re trying to balance are aligned.

I challenge you to take some time to think about success in your life and work.

I double challenge you to do something about it if the two aren’t aligned.

15 Things I believe about work that you might not

What drives Rethink Work? Why does the world need this site? Why is it different to any other?

To  answer those questions, I created a list of 15 things I believe about jobs, work and making a living.

It’s probably not comprehensive, but it mostly covers it.

Do you believe the same things?

1 — Life is too short to be miserable in your job

It’s a total cliche but that’s because it’s true. And if you’re miserable in your job, you’ll be less happy in all aspects of your life.

2 — The alternative to being miserable in your job isn’t just to quit

Quitting could be a good option, but it’s never the only one, and it’s rarely the first one your should try. If you’re prepared to quit, you have the ultimate leverage to change your current situation. Worth a try first don’t you think?

3— You must be crystal clear about what success is for you

Most people who end up in a miserable job got there because they were chasing someone else’s definition of success. Driven people achieve stuff. Few spend enough time being clear about what their version of success is. They achieve what others think success is, not what makes them happy. That sucks.

4 — Money should not be the thing tying you to your job

Yes, you need money to live. But you probably need less of it than you use now. You can make some changes (either short term or permanent) to get by with less that you think. There are always other ways than your current job to make enough money to live.

5 — A job isn’t a battle between employer and employee

Employees who are happier do more, better work. It’s in your employers best interest for you to be happy too. Remember this!

6 — Small changes to your job can make a big difference to your happiness

And making changes to your job is rarely as hard as you think it might be. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and if you do ask, you often do get.

7 — Employees are more valuable to their employers than they think

Replacing you would be hard, expensive and time consuming. This works is in your favour if you want to ask for a change. Remember, happier employees are more productive, a small change could make you happier and replacing you would be painful. That’s enough leverage to ask for what you want.

8 — You don’t have to quit to start something new

You can (and should) make steps towards your new goal before you quit your existing job. Your salary is great for giving you the room you need to get started. And when you have a new plan to focus on, your job often becomes more bearable. Light at the end of the tunnel and all that.

9 — Time is not the thing holding you back

We all feel like there isn’t enough time. There’s always time for something new if you prioritise it. And you can achieve a lot with a little time if you focus, and do the things that matter.

10— If you do quit, there’s always a way to use your existing experience

You don’t have to start from nothing — your skills, experience, network and know how all mean that you can create a job or a company that pays the bills. Ignore the “10 step systems to build a business”, and figure out your own way.

11—Not having a good idea is a terrible excuse to stay miserable

Have lots of ideas, even if they’re bad. Copy other peoples ideas. Try some of the “bad” ideas. You’ll find better ones along the way.

12 — If you’re waiting for something to happen, you’re making excuses

Seriously — there is no reason to wait, you can start small, but if you start now, you win.

13 — You can’t figure out your purpose in life

Not by thinking things through. No amount of coaching, blog reading, self development or personality testing can give you your purpose. You can discover it by trying things. Doing always beats thinking about doing.

14 — Jobs as we know them won’t always exist

Who knows when it’s going to happen, but it will. Freelancing, remote working, flexible hours and all kinds of things that are not mainstream today will become the norm. You can choose to wait for that, or get ahead of the curve.

15 — There is so much opportunity, there is no excuse to be miserable

There really is no excuse for sitting bemoaning your lot. This is the time in our history when there is the most opportunity for the most people. Everything you need to make a change is there. Don’t stand for you own excuses.

So, do you think the same way as me, or completely disagree? Let me know in the comments…