How do you define success? Most of us launch themselves into chasing “success” without ever thinking what does it actually mean. More money? A bigger car? More time with your family? One hundred pairs of shoes? The definition of success will mean something completely different to each one of us, so why don’t we spend more time exploring it?
I interviewed our Festival of Doers speakers, 12 inspiring women, to find out what success means for them and found out that a happiness expert, a comedian and a technology investor have a lot in common. Women don’t define success based on external factors, but based on their inner compass. They have all made choices that work for them and defined success to their own terms. This doesn’t mean women would be any less ambitious than men. We simply want to do it with a deeper purpose and meaning.
Susanna Newsonen, happiness expert and positive psychologist, defines success as “living happy and fulfilled life”. For her those things emerge from short term pleasure, such as savouring good things in the moment, and from long term purpose and meaning, being conscious of the kind of impact she has on the world.
Danusia Malina-Derben , founder of School for Mothers podcast and mother of 10, highlights an important point in her interview:
“Define your own success because it is constantly changing and depends on what life stage you are in.”
Many women never stop to think about this and may be judging themselves based on an outdated image of success. For instance, getting to the corner office may have been very important to you in your 20’s and 30’s, but in your 40’s you may want to use your time differently. This should not stop you from earning as much money or doing work that facilitates your personal growth.
“Success for me is pride in what I’m doing and who I am. It’s also about being at ease with potential failure. It’s important to get really, really clear what is important. Really important. That’s part of the definition of success.”
Emma Stroud, a comedian, host and founder of Clowning Around podcast, defines success: “I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.”
“If you don’t listen to your heart and follow your calling nothing else really works.”
For economical analyst and social entrepreneur Priya Virmani success means having courage to break cultural expectations and to be authentic. She defines success as “writing your own life story rather than following other people’s script.”
International success coach Niyc Pidgeon defines success as being in an alignment with a purpose that is bigger than yourself. She has a very strong sense of purpose linked with being able to follow her calling. She wants to help million women globally to change their lives using positive psychology.
Former lawyer Stine Dulong left her corporate career to slow down and to focus on the things around her that gave her a sense of fulfilment. As a result she founded a pottery brand Skandihus.
“Success about is being able to elevate others.”
Researcher and social activist Emilia Lahti looks at success from a point of view of elevating others and the difference she can make in the connections between people. For her the key question is: “How much value I’m able to add to other people’s lives?” Emilia makes it clear that she needs to work on herself first before she’s able to help others. Authenticity is the key!
Licensed mental health counselor Amanda Ready shares a similar view. She believes you have to first find strength in yourself before you can help others.
“Success is freedom to make choices for your own life.”
Amanda aims to empower herself in a way that she can be in a position of strength to be able to make the choices she wants. It is easy to end up in a life situation where your options are limited due to your earlier life choices.
“Even if 10 million pounds would turn up on my doorstep tomorrow not much would change in my life.” says Geeta Sidhu-Robb , founder of Nosh Detox. Wealth gives you the freedom to make better life choices, but real success is when you love your life regardless of the amount of money you have.
Kathryn Tyler, co-founder of Digital Mums also defines success in terms of being able to make her own choices. “I love the fact that I can take my dog for a walk every afternoon.”
Tech entrepreneur Geraldine Le Meur tells me success is freedom to make her own life choices and being able to combine the roles of a mother and an entrepreneur.
How inspiring are all these women! Perhaps my personal favourite is how life coach Jo Westwood puts it:
“Success is an inner feeling of knowing I did a good job with my life today.”
She wants to go to bed every evening feeling that she has approached life with highest integrity, be that in regards to dealing with her clients, her own health or hanging out with her family and friends.
I find all of these women extraordinarily inspiring, and have learned a lot from their definition of success and their tips and life lessons. (You can watch all the interviews on our YouTube channel , please subscribe!)
There is no unified way to success for the simple reason that everyone’s definition of it is very different. And it should be. It is this very diversity of our purpose that creates a rich fabric of life.
It would be nice to just sign up to a success-ticket, that would guarantee you “success” but you’d be likely to end up at someone else’s station! We must stop looking for ready answers and start committing to our own path.
Define your own success by answering the following questions:
Which one of these definitions of success resonates with you the most? Why?
How do you define success in your own life?
What is important for you? Really, REALLY important?
What would you do if money was not an obstacle? Why?
What brings you happiness and satisfaction in the moment?
Life is short. It’s time to start your journey to a bigger life by defining what success means for you on a deeper level. At DrivenWoman we have created a framework for the journey and a community where like-minded women support each other to their bigger life.
~ Miisa Mink, DrivenWoman founder and chief-doer