How to Write Your Definition of Success

How to define success in your life

Last time, I shared that your level of success in life is determined by your definition of success.  If you never take the time to define what success means to you, you’ll never find fulfillment in your life. Why?  Because you can never truly reach something that is never defined.

So how do you write a definition of success?  Here are a few tips…

Write Your Definition of Success

Writing your definition of success will take time.  Don’t feel you have to get it perfect the first time.  Just write your first rough draft now.  Things can always be tweaked or re-written later.

  1. Start with your Master Dream List – The Master Dream List is the place to write down everything you’ve ever wanted to be, do, have, and achieve, along with a date of when you’d like to achieve it.  You can see an example here:  Master Dream List. Writing down your dreams is the first step toward making them a reality. The Master Dream List isn’t something you do once and forget.  I suggest you review it weekly in order to keep your dreams fresh in your mind.  And it’s great to look and see what dreams you’ve accomplished as time goes on.  You can add (or subtract) items at any time.
  2. Write a brief description of success for each life area – I’ve found that most people, when they think about success, tend to think mostly about achieving success in their career and finances…and not so much about what success looks like in their family, spiritual life, or other areas.  This can result in a life that is out of balance and filled with regret. So take a look at each area of your life (financial, spiritual, physical, intellectual, family, social and career), and write a brief description of what success looks like in each one.
  3. Identify your passions – What are the things, tasks, ideas or causes that really inspire and energize you?  The things you’d do if you had all the money in the world to do them?  Write them down.  You can write down one or more passions in each life area if you want.  And then narrow it down to your top three passions.
  4. Clarify your personal values – Your values are the principles that are most important to you.  They include the things that are non-negotiable in your life. Write down a value for each life area if you can.  For example, a value for your health life area might be: “I want to maintain my ideal weight.”
  5. Identify your preferred future – Spend a few minutes thinking about your preferred future (you might also call it your “dream life”).  Don’t limit yourself by only thinking about what you can easily accomplish based on where you’re at today.  Think in terms of your full potential:  What could you accomplish in your life if you stretched yourself, took a risk, and made a plan? What would you like to see happen in your life over the next three to five years?  What does your dream life look like?  Write a preferred future statement for each of your life areas.
  6. Write your definition of success – Finally, look back over everything you’ve written so far, and synthesize or boil it all down to a one or two paragraph statement of what success looks like to you.  As I mentioned earlier, don’t feel you have to get it perfect right now.  Write the first draft and let it sit for a while.  Then come back to it in a few days and see how it feels.

When you feel like you’ve defined success the way you want it, print it off and use it to guide the actions you take and the decisions you make.

Armed with this new definition of success, you now have a firm grasp on what you want in your life (based on your dreams and passions), why you want it (based on your personal values), and how you can achieve it (based on your preferred future). For extra credit, break it all down into actionable goals and you’ve got a plan to help you live your dream life now.

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