Defining Your Own Success

A Self-Kindness

As we are in Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme of kindness, I wanted to share a short story of something I experienced recently. It brought home to me the importance of really defining for ourselves what success looks and feels like. It’s also critical for high performance to maintain long term, sustainable motivation.

Who decides what success is in the things you do? Is it heavily influenced for you by external things-people around you, what you’re reading, views in larger society? Or is it purely a decision you make on your own, an internal process of conscious decision making? Or perhaps you give it no thought.

It’s actually not an easy thing to do, to articulate to yourself, when you start something, what success will be, what it will feel like.

My Experience

I went out for a run recently. I don’t find running easy but I enjoy it in a strange way (mostly after they’re finished!)

I ran out and back on a nearby track to my home. I ran past a dog walker on my outward journey along the track and then got to a certain place on the track, I know that marks a distance from home so I turned, and ran back. I passed the same dog walker again at a gate on the return and they said “you’ve not gone far!” At the time I didn’t really know what to say. But on the run home I managed to get myself worked up about it. “How do they know how far I’ve run from home? I could have done 10 miles before I decided to turn? What do they know!” Then the performer in me… “Maybe I should have gone further…”  Not soon after I let it go, but it started me thinking about who I would let define my success, of that run, but also more generally.

Success at Different Times

Given the circumstances of your life at any point (i.e. COVID-19 outbreak), success in an activity will look different. One day, with running, success could be simply getting out of the house with running shoes on, running a certain distance, running gently, or not at all because you feel low in energy, and you’re listening to your body, or pushing and going for a personal best that day.

Whichever way, the reminder to me this week was that I can, and should decide success for myself. It allowed me to be kinder and more supportive to myself, rather than letting another person define what success was for me. This felt empowering.

If you, like many people just now are experiencing difficulty finding pleasure and purpose in your days feel free to get in touch for a free 20-minute consultation to see if I can support you.


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