How to Clearly Define Your Picture of Success

What does your favorite picture of you look like? You must have one.

And is it a selfie, or taken by someone else? Posed or candid?

By whatever method it originated, there are things in the photo that you like. That’s why it’s your favorite. Maybe your hair looked really good that day, or your makeup. Perhaps you think your left-sided profile is your best angle, or maybe your vacation tan was still lingering.

Entrepreneurship and especially the startup phase requires a favorite picture, but it’s not an actual photo or depiction of something existing, it’s a vision of something to come that resembles your ideal. This picture is necessary as a guiding light, because when you decide to take your business startup idea and turn it into the reality of your life, the picture of your success will anchor your progress.

It sounds simple, but think back to when you were in middle and high school, and you were presented with the daunting task of deciding what you wanted to become when you grew up. Well now you’re grown up, and you’re contemplating taking a leap of faith toward an aspiration, and you’re sitting there on your couch thinking through what your personal success story looks, feels, and sounds like. This is your ultimate selfie. It’s self-reflection and personal insight to the degree that you are creating a mind’s eye picture of yourself, and your requirements for happiness and fulfillment.

Based on well-documented research and common sense, somewhere in the equation of happiness for most of us, there lies a few key ingredients: money on which to live, helping others and doing something meaningful, competency in the role you’re performing, and a supportive and healthy work environment. Clearly, there’s far more detail that you could add, but that’s the core.

How do you take what makes you happy into your picture of success?

The question is how do you spin all of your happiness ingredients into your picture of success and make it attainable?

ingredients of job satisfaction concept - white chalk handwriting and color sticky notes on blackboard

According to Pew Research Center, on the whole, Americans are generally satisfied with their jobs. However, 30% view their work as “just a job to get them by.” Approximately half of U.S. workers describe their job as a career, while 18% say it’s a stepping stone to a career.

So about 68% of Americans view themselves as either in a career or on a career path. And remember, this is based on a person’s view of themselves—again with the ultimate selfie!

The question could be raised: is it a career path in which they are content or just a career path? Hmmm…now that’s something to consider.

Think ‘Talking Heads’ and the lyrics to Once in a Lifetime…

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?

Looking at your ultimate selfie and picture of success from a broader perspective than professionally-impacting; Arianna Huffington says that you can create a life filled with well-being, wisdom, and wonder, and accomplish this based not on the number of hours you spend sitting at a desk in your company, but by tapping into your intuition, inner wisdom, and compassionate self. She talks in her book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, about defining your picture of success, and how part of this picture should include personal well-being, time for reflection and unplugging, and savoring all aspects of life.

Dr. Susan Biali, life coach, keynote speaker, and author of Live a Life You Love, suggests that there are a few key things to consider as you’re seeking out your happy life, and looking for a place and a path in which to invest your time and abilities.

Inventory your talent

  1. Pay attention to who makes you annoyed or jealous
  2. Think of what you loved to do as a child
  3. Notice when you lose track of time, and what you hate to stop doing
  4. See your passion hunt as fun!

If they seem flippant or frivolous, stop and consider their merit. I especially like #2, because if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve had those moments in life when I observed someone doing their thing, and my first reaction was a bit of envy, with “Crap, why do they get to live that way?!” ringing in my head.

Followed shortly by, “How can I manage to do some version of that?”

If the answer to #4 is something that you couldn’t feasibly make a living doing, then think about the aspects of it that make you engaged, and that may help lead your thinking toward a pursuit that could be seen as a livelihood.

Seeing your passion hunt as fun—this one is important because rather than moping around in a career path belonging to someone else, take stock, take time, look at it as the turning point when you get to begin painting the picture of your ultimate selfie. And unlike the selfie you took where you looked like your chin got absorbed into your neck, this one is going to be kick-ass!

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