March 6, 2015
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”
5 Checkpoints for Your Path to Success
As usual, poet Maya Angelou nails it with the above quote. Imagine success being defined as how much you like yourself, like what you do and like how you do it?!
How are you doing on applying those criteria? Can you tell? Often we are so heads down into our work and our lives that we are not really taking stock of how we are doing.
The places where my career went seriously off the rails (and there have been a few!) were times when one of those elements was not in place. Maybe my self-esteem was down so I didn’t particularly like myself and hence it was not really possible to like or respect my colleagues. Another time, I was required to do a job in a way that I not only didn’t like, it felt unethical.
The relief when I ended all of these situations was palpable. But what could I have done to check in with myself before my success was derailed and to get myself on a better track faster? Here are some of the checkpoints I use – perhaps they will be helpful to you:
- Am I taking my feelings of low self-esteem out on my loved ones? In my experience, the place that low self-esteem, or not liking yourself, shows up first is in how I treat family and loved ones – i.e. the people I feel most comfortable abusing! If it continues, it can branch out to include work colleagues and others – and then I am clearly on a path I don’t want to be on.
- What is my first thought in the morning? The day when my first work-related thought in the morning is how much I can’t wait to do something is a good one. On the other hand, if my first thought is “OMG, I have to do THAT today” then this means I am on a path that is not good. Sure, there are times when we all have to do things we don’t want to, but if I am getting a consistent reading that says I pretty much hate what is ahead of me each day, then it is time to course correct.
- Why am I not telling friends and colleagues what I am working on? If I am working on a project, assuming it is not confidential, and I am not talking about it with my close friends and colleagues, I have to ask myself why. Generally, I take pride in my work and I like to share what is share-able. When I clam up about my work it is usually a sign that I either don’t like it or don’t feel good about how I am doing it.
- Can I stand up to the toughest scrutinizer? The tried and true method of looking myself in the mirror works! If I can stare at myself and still say that I feel good about how I am doing something, then that is a pass by the toughest scrutinizer. Funny fact: I used to never be able to look myself in the mirror without smiling! Then I started to think that maybe I was trying to charm or manipulate myself! When I stopped smiling, I think the scrutiny became more honest.
- Is it time to redefine “success”? As our life and career evolve (sometimes devolve) our definition of success may need to be redefined. There is no question that what got defined as success 20 years ago, is no longer the definition I would apply today. Money can be an important success definition at some points in your career; at other points, time with family and friends pulls ahead as a stronger definer.