How do you define success? Like most people, you probably look at your house, your job title, the size of your office, your bank balance, the things you own. That's how we have always defined success, by the accumulation of money or things.
But the past few years of economic turmoil have taught us that we cannot take these things for granted. Many of the financial and economic systems we knew and trusted, from big business to Wall Street to the banking and mortgage industries, turned out to be, at best, shaky and, at worst, flimsy houses of cards.
When those institutions faltered and fell, they exposed the emptiness of a world that defined success through the false illusions of money and assets. We can no longer define success through our jobs or our salaries or our houses or our possessions or our 401(k)s alone. So, what now? What does it mean to be successful?
Well, it's a New Year, and I am proposing New Rules of Success, based not on the false security of finances and material possessions but on real, meaningful, engagement and fulfillment. It's a new way of defining success, a new way of interacting with the world, and it requires a new way of thinking.
In my book, The New Rules of Success, I explain that in the Old Rules of Success, success was linked to achieving externally defined benchmarks. Traditionally, these were concrete and measurable "accomplishments," with quantifiable price tags - the big house, the fancy car, the vacations, the portfolio, the stuff we had. We knew success when we saw it, right?
But the New Rules of Success aren't about what you have. They're about who you are and how you live your life. People who live by the New Rules of Success:
•Celebrate what is and don't complain about what could be;
•Live in the present and spend less time in the past;
•Enjoy the presence of those around them and don't stress about what is not present;
•Contribute more through their unique gifts;
•Think more about what matters to them and worry less about what others think;
•Focus on creating life on their own terms and stop comparing themselves to others.
For many people, the New Rules of Success represent a sea change from how they've always defined themselves and have always measured success. It's challenging, but you can get started on a more meaningful definition of success by asking yourself:
•What do I believe and value?
•What is really important to me?
•Am I doing what I love? What fulfills me?
•Do I feel good about myself?
•Am I contributing?
The New Rules of Success are really all about you. Not some external measurement, not some arbitrary "Keeping up with the Joneses" or "Whoever has the most toys wins" benchmarks. No, the new rules are about your fulfillment as a person, how you feel about yourself and your place in the world. Success is not about what you have; it's about who you are and how you live your life.
The new rules are internal, not external - your success will depend on how you design, create and actively live the fulfilling life you want. I believe there are four components to achieving new, meaningful success:
1. Contribute. Give something to the greater good. Are you contributing to your life and to the world around you -- personally, professionally, emotionally -- in a meaningful way?
2. Connect. Recognize the value of each moment, each interaction,
the here and now. Are you in the present moment?
3. Be Compassionate. Be conscious of those around you, their lives, and the way they feel. It's not just all about you anymore.
4. Create. Learn, grow, and develop yourself. Live your life and create your fate.
The New Rules of Success boil down to this: Our lives and how we measure success should not be defined by the things we own or how much money we have. Success is about the way we live our lives, and we can learn to do so in the most fulfilling and meaningful way possible. It's a new year, and it's a perfect opportunity to redefine what it means to be successful, create a more meaningful life and create a better world.
Adapted from The New Rules of Success, by Camille Preston