It’s around this time of year that most of us start looking forwards to what we’d like to get out of our businesses next year. And ahead of the first of my Focus and Flourish workshops I have been mulling over a question I ask myself a lot: what does success look like to me?
We live in a society where the trappings of success (and the sacrifices it takes to get there) are all too obvious. And at face value, it seems that we are all after the same thing. But are we really?
I think one of the things that the small business owners I know are very good at, is defining what success means to them.
Forget everyone else’s definition of success: what’s yours?
For one of my friends, her definition of business success is doing something she loves whilst at the same time being able to pay the school fees. For another, it’s about being able to match her city salary (whilst also doing what she loves). Another friend and I were looking at her business plan and goals from 2003 and were knocked sideways at how she’d achieved each and every one of her goals with bells on. And yet in the daily grind of running a business it’s easy to lose sight of what you have achieved.
I was at a seminar a couple of weeks ago where the speaker was geeing us up to think about Super-Success. His personal definition was Financial Freedom (whatever that means to you) and he talked several times about his “very nice lifestyle”. I have no idea of his own personal wealth, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s at the very least in the millions. I sat there listening to what he had to say, all very valid stuff, and I thought, “actually, if this is what it takes, I’m ok thanks.”
You see he made no bones about the fact that to be “super successful” you need to make some big sacrifices. He travels a lot, he works long hours, and from the sounds of things, he works at the weekends too. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but I have made the very conscious decision that’s not for me.
And this is where I think your definition of success needs to be tied into your personal values. Success for you is how you define it. It could be to do with money, it could be wellbeing, it could be enjoying your job, it could be about how much time and flexibility you are able to bring into your life. I suspect that you, like me, can’t have it all. And I suspect that if you can get clear in your mind what you want to achieve next year, reconcile that with your personal values and ensure you’re comfortable with it, that you’ll be halfway there.
The fact is that there is no one-size fits all when it comes to defining success. But I do think it’s important to think about it. Really think about it. Not just pluck an arbitrary number out of thin air with no realistic planning about whether it’s achievable: but to actually think through what you want to achieve, how the market has changed and the steps you need to plan to get there.
And this is why I brought Elizabeth into the Focus and Flourish workshop - because whilst I do all the practical marketing stuff, she has the innate ability to get us all to focus on what we want and tie that back into our personal values. It’s an incredibly inspiring experience, and one that I’d love you to join us on if you can make it. We have a couple of spaces left on our 12th Jan workshop so come and join us, get Focused and then plan to Flourish!
Either way, do just take five minutes out to really focus on what success looks like for next year. It’ll be time really well spent.