It was a regular Wednesday evening.  I was watching TV/checking email on my computer.  That’s when I saw it.  The email from LinkedIn letting me know that someone in my network was promoted and/or started a new job.  I clicked on it, and in a matter of minutes, I was on LinkedIn stalking (hey, at least I’m owning my actions!) people from my MBA class.  After about 30 minutes, the negativity started creeping in.  Everyone seemed to be advancing in their careers and doing big things.  And of course, I was happy for these people, but it made me stop and think about my career progression to date.  My success to date.  Basically, I felt like my peers were busy climbing the corporate ladder while I wasn’t even sure when my next promotion was coming.  Needless to say, it went from a regular Wednesday evening to an emotional one!

That’s how limited my definition of success was  at that time.  Success equaled an upward progression on the corporate ladder.  Promotions.  Fancy job titles.  Money.

Needless to say, my definition of success has changed dramatically since this time.  But until my coaching conversation with Shannon, I didn’t have the perfect words to describe my new way of thinking about success.  But I’ve got them now (thanks, Shannon!).

“Success is the expression of your true self.”

Let’s take a second to let this sink in…

This simple phrase really hits home, at least it does for me.

I love how universal this new definition is.  There’s not one aspect of life this doesn’t apply to.  Success is when you’re able to be yourself.  Period

Our job titles/salaries certainly don’t define how successful we are.  Not only is this is a very limiting way of thinking about success, but these things can easily be taken away from you at any point.  In fact, it seems a little silly that I used to think this way.

On the flip side, there’s no limit to expressing your true self.  You’re not dependent on anyone else when doing so.  And no one can take you away from you.

When it comes to my career, I honestly don’t have a clue as to what the future holds.  I may very likely have a long and fulfilling corporate career.  Or I may decide to take a few years off when we have kids.  Or I may decide to switch career paths at 40 and do something completely different.   Who knows!

But what I do know is this.  Regardless of what path(s) I choose, my success will not be defined by the path itself.  Instead, it will be defined by how authentic, genuine, true, and Parita I am along the way.  And quite honestly, that’s a HUGE relief!

So tell me – what’s your definition of success?

By Parita

7 thoughts on “What’s Your Definition of Success?”
  1. Love the introspective nature of your posts Parita! Most of us have been in that boat at some point, of letting our insecurities surface when we hear/read about others progress.
    My definition of success has changed over the years too and is very similar to yours- authenticity, stretching myself to live to my full potential and making a difference! Sounds lofty and esoteric I guess, but it means a lot to me and guides me everyday with my interactions, actions and goals!

    I challenge my career coaching clients in a similar way to reflect upon how and why what they are seeking adds value to their life.
    Gia recently posted…5 Steps to Set Yourself Up For Success At A New JobMy Profile

  2. LOVE this post, Par! I struggle with the exact same thing. It feels like, to me, my friends have it all figured out and they’re moving up the ladder without worry or anything. Me? Sure, I do this job I have now and I do it well, but I don’t even know if this is what I want to do long-term. There actually _isn’t_ way to move up from where I am because I’m already a Senior Engineer and the next title up is my Manager. So lately I’ve felt like I’ve hit a brick wall and dead end. But I have to stop and consider my successes: I stumbled into a field of engineering and learned a skill set (coding) and found out I’m actually OK at it. Despite my Journalism degree, I’m not struggling with lay-offs like, unfortunately, a lot of my friends in the newspaper business are feeling (still, after the recession of 2008). It’s hard to define success, but I think you have to think about it in a balanced way!

  3. I really, really loved this post, Parita! It’s something I’ve stumbled upon myself after getting married. I actually even wrote about it because I was so inspired by this change in me. Not gonna lie, seeing those LinkedIn profiles and status updates still does get me for a while, but I have to remind myself that I am happy and I’ve found something that makes me happy and feel fulfilled, even if the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. Whose life am I living though? Theirs or mine? I gotta be me! I’m glad you feel similarly too! 🙂

  4. I’ve been experiencing the same thing lately and have come to a similar conclusion! The more I think about it, the less I realize, I don’t care about making oodles of money or having a fancy job/career title. I gain my satisfaction and importance from other things- family, friends, life outside work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those who want to climb the ladder, it’s just not important to me- although I thought it was after grad school :).

  5. I love this! I wouldn’t say I’m a very career driven person. I always thought I would be but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that work doesn’t even come close to defining me and I hope it stays that way (although money can be very enticing, haha).
    Kacy recently posted…Hiking the Maryland Heights TrailMy Profile

  6. You so clearly articulated what SO many of us (even, er…especially entrepreneurs) feel about our career path. Often we get trapped in endless comparison shaming and that is such a slippery slope. I’m so happy you’re embracing your definition of success and giving yourself permission to be your true self. <3 (PS – I think you're unstoppable and I definitely see you authoring a book in the next decade!)

  7. I love this post! I have felt that way when I bump into old friends/classmates and I feel like I am ONLY a teacher. Then I have to remind myself, this is the career I decided upon and I am happy. Yes, I am making now what my friends made me when they started their careers right after college, but I make a difference in the lives of children and that fills my cup.
    Pooja recently posted…Three Things Thursday 5.5.16My Profile

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