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  • Writer's pictureKristen Herring-Asleson

How do you define success?

This week there was a shift in clients; one client fell off my client list but a new one came aboard. It made me wonder if I really was all that successful as a virtual assistant, or was I just holding steady?

Do not get me wrong, I am very happy with the number of clients I have, but still, does that make me successful?

Are you successful at work? What does that mean to you?

Looking back on my myriad of jobs I have held, there are a few “steps” that made me feel successful. The first being, as a waitress, being switched from the night shift to the day shift. You knew you had been noticed and doing well with customers if you were pulled to days.

At the job following my 12-year-waitressing career, there was an obvious step up that let me know success was being made there as well. About a year into this job, my supervisor asked, “What are your goals, what do you want a year from now?” I looked directly at her, and said, “Your job.” Within the year following that review, I was made a lead and then supervisor. It became clear to me that working hard and just getting your job done well was the best way to get noticed.

Nowadays, there is so much competition among employees, and getting noticed has a higher degree of difficulty. Sometimes, when ambitious people experience a failure, it feels like success falls further from reach.

A study by Strayer University found that 90% of Americans believe happiness is a bigger indicator of success than power, possessions or prestige. Going a little further with findings, it was revealed that 67% defined success as “good relationships with friends and family” and 60% said it is loving you do for a living. Believe it or not, only 20% stated that “monetary wealth determines success.”

When you drive through towns and cities, do you marvel at the humongous houses with snazzy cars parked outside? Is that a show of success, or just a show? Is that what it takes to make others think you have been a huge success with a lot of accomplishments in your life? There are people making very little money who drive fancy cars for show, and there are affluent, hard-working people who are quite comfortable driving station wagons from 1974 (okay, maybe an exaggeration), and wearing clothes from a second-hand store.

In reality, true success is about you, who you are, how far you have come and what you have overcome. It isn’t the materialistic things that people often revel in.

Let’s take a peek at the indicators of success according to Talent Smart:

  • You are no longer the center of the universe. We all know people who consider themselves successful and behave as though they’re the center of the universe. That isn’t success. True success requires the ability to feel empathy, to realize that other people’s feelings and dreams are just as important.

  • You stay positive. Hope and optimism are essential to happiness, not dwelling on the negative while being bitter and resentful shows success. Meaning, you have the power to see the bright side and believing you can make the best out of every situation.

  • You know failure is not forever. This is a tough one to overcome. Sometimes troubles and failures hit you like dominoes falling over ... one after another. Being able to stop assuming you are a failure just because you experienced a fail is huge.

Lastly, when you finally stop caring what other people think, you have tasted success. Life isn’t about other people's opinions, and they certainly can't define success for you. You will make your own success in life, and when you do, you will feel it too. And you will know the feeling when it overcomes you. I promise.

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