What is success?
No, I’m not about to take you on a philosophical journey filled with mumbo-jumbo. What I want to do is get you to think about where you are in your life and where you really want to be. Success is measured in a lot of different ways and it has always meant different things to different people.
In school, one person’s success may have been a “C” in their class while to someone else, it would have been intolerable—only an “A” would do.
Sometimes success is pass or fail. Sometimes success is whether or not you accomplish a specific goal.
In most cases in life, the goal is set before us by someone else or an outside standard. But how do you personally measure success for yourself? How do you decide where the goal is? There is one definitive way I know that works every time, in any situation, personal or professional.
You have to start with finding your purpose.
If your reason for doing something is clear, you will know with certainty when you have achieved success.
The Relationship Between Purpose and Success
Your purpose sets your vision.
Your purpose, no matter what you’re pursuing, whether it’s professional success, setting out on your own business venture, an investment, or something in between, defines your ultimate vision. To put it another way, why you’re doing what you’re doing defines your end goal.
I have five children. When I first started investing in real estate, one of the things I knew I wanted to do was have a property to generate passive income to go towards a college fund for each child.
As I added properties to my portfolio, each one had a purpose. Wedding funds. Retirement. You name it, there was always a reason!
My "why" gave me something to shoot for. I invested because I didn’t want my kids to have to worry about college debt and because I didn’t want our family to have to worry about our future. It wasn’t aimless. It wasn’t just to make money. It had a defined and specific purpose.
Because of that, I knew when I had succeeded at that goal. Finding your purpose is crucial to knowing what success looks like.
Your purpose keeps you from chasing an eternal carrot.
In line with having a vision, your purpose keeps you from chasing a carrot forever. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, it can go on forever. The problem with not defining a measure of success for yourself is that the end goal—what you consider successful—will always move.
You may find yourself satisfied for one instant, but you will quickly find yourself unsatisfied if you see someone you perceive as more successful at the same thing. This is why we need measures.
There is a saying that says "comparison is the thief of joy."
If you’re not setting your own standards of success, then you will be looking to others for validation and for what it means to succeed.
Dig your heels in the sand. Before you start any venture, you have to understand why you’re doing it in the first place. From there, you begin to understand for yourself your own measures of success. This is what truly matters, and this is how you can stay in something for decades without quitting.
This is how you have endurance. You know what you’re working for. It’s not endless. It’s not a constant quest to one-up the next guy. It’s knowing who you are, what you’re about, and why you’re doing what you do.
And that, friends, makes each day a gratifying experience.
Your purpose can grow and change over time.
Lastly, understand that you have in your hands the power to change your measures of success. Over time, we grow as people. Our needs and desires change. Our families and circumstances change. Because of that, our purpose can change focus, too. You might need to think bigger or smaller, add new facets to your purpose, create new goals and milestones, or make new measures of success.
That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re off track. It means you’re evolving and recognizing the new places that you’re in now. Don’t lock yourself into the old you. Recognize where you are in the present and where you’re heading.
You alone can determine how to measure success in your life—and you can do so with joy and confidence. Don’t be afraid to confront and embrace life as it is.