Definitions of success change over time for individuals and can change quickly. However, it seems society and specific industry’s have definitions of success that change very little over time.
I have learned through many years of observation and reflection that my industry, as a whole, defines success very differently than myself these days. For over twenty years I have worked in the transportation engineering industry that, in general, defines success as growth, title and income. There is nothing wrong with this definition of success, as I truly believe everyone needs to find their own definition of success.
Twenty years ago, my definition aligned closely with this. I had just returned from working in Sweden for the Swedish Department of Transportation (Vagverket), I was running marathons, coaching gymnastics and I was the Project Manager on a high profile, first of its kind transportation technology project. Life was exciting, I was single, and my parents were taking care of themselves (and sometimes me). I was all about money, title and growth. I embraced every opportunity, traveled often and created a national network of colleagues and mentors. At the time, that was my Now Success. And I did everything I could to reach it.
Then life changed (as life does). I met the guy, fell in love, got married, dealt with a few health issues, bought a home, embraced step-children and children, and my parents aged. My perspectives changed as well as my definition of Now Success. I didn’t recognize it right away. I look back and I was only surviving. I was conflicted with what the industry and our culture defined as success and what I felt internally.
In August 2018, I took time to reflect and go through a process to “design my life” and define my Now Success. I determined what means the most to me (my husband, parents, step-children and children), what aspects of my career I love and those I don’t, I visualized what I wanted my days and weeks to look like. I backwards engineered my career into my definition of a successful Now. I left a growing consulting firm and started a DBE of “just me”. I have been able to use advice from mentors and to focus on the aspects of my career that I love, delivering high quality products to great clients, working with wonderful partners and on interesting projects. I don’t intend to grow in the near future because this is my Now Success.
I can honestly say my Now Success feels like it confuses people in my industry a little. I hear many questions and statements such as… “Why wouldn’t you want to grow?”, “You could double your workload.”, “How can you say “no” to work?”, “You could make more money.” These questions and statements only reinforce how my Now Success differs from my industry.
I challenge you to figure out your Now Success, I am much happier and able to focus on things that fill my life with joy and satisfaction because I took the time and was able to figure out mine.