Success: setting your own definition

Earlier this year I quit my job. Not because I wasn’t good at what I did, or because I was having a baby, or even that I decided to become a ground-breaking entrepreneur in an attempt to change the world and become a billionaire. It was as simple as this…I decided that I wanted to follow my heart and continue to learn about the world, and my place in it.

Sitting here looking back at my time unemployed it’s safe to say I hit a few great milestones, yet I would be lying if I didn’t say that it was also quite a roller-coaster journey. I questioned if I had made the right decision…and the doubt led to me thinking that that by packing up and leaving everything to move overseas without a job or financial security, I was kind of going backwards in life.

It wasn’t only that I was afraid of going backwards in life, but another large concern was the chance I might fail; I would have to go back to Australia and tell everyone what went wrong, I might need to ask for my old job back, I could end up forever being the person at the centre of gossip at the social events, the list goes on.

It’s no secret…when you’re staring failure in the face, it can be quite daunting.

Despite this nerve wracking experience (which I felt I was the only one going through at the time) I spoke to Steve Shepherd, CEO at career coaching firm TwoPointZero, who explained to me that fear is one of the most common reasons why people are afraid to change their careers and choose to stay in an unsatisfying role instead.

“Fear of what others may think, fear they’ve already put so much effort into getting to where they are. They don’t want to admit they were wrong. Or, they simply fear change and the uncertainty it brings,” he said.

After thinking this over for weeks, I disclosed how I was feeling to one of my close friends, which was a pivotal moment.

What I saw a a step backwards in my career and my finances, she described as a step forward in life.

Thanks to this new way of looking at it, I realised that although I might not be successful in a conventional way by making such a drastic change five years into my career, taking a few steps backwards doesn’t mean that I am unsuccessful. I reminded myself I need to set my own goals, and that I should be measuring my success against these rather than what I think is expected of me

Steve told me that the most important part of setting goals is to understand yourself. Easy right? Well not exactly; I’ve spent the last 28 years trying to understand myself. The first step is looking at what interests you. “You need to identify the things you like and the things you don’t. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Try and work out what really drives you,” Steve said.

“Don’t settle for something you are unhappy with. Invest in understanding what options your passions can create for you. Explore those options. Identify the ones that will truly drive you and build a plan that leads you to achieving your goals. And remember to follow your heart and don’t settle for second best,” he said.

If we are focused on finding out what really drives us to set our goals and achieve them, we may not be the richest person we know, or the CEO of a company, but we will be successful in our own way, and most importantly we will most likely be happier.

By quitting and chasing the unknown I truly challenged myself; I moved to a new country with no guarantee I would find work, I said goodbye to my closest friends and family and I put myself in a country where the language, culture and traditions are quite different from what I am familiar with. In my opinion, that is pretty successful for someone with a goal to learn more about the world and their place in it!

What does success mean to you?

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