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.
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.