Journey to success image

Have you ever defined what “Success” would look like for you, and where your journey to success would take you?

I think of well-known people, particularly creatives such as Steven Spielberg, Leonard Bernstein, Meryl Streep, Renee Fleming, and Banksy, and wonder if they’ve achieved their definition of “Successful.”

Maybe their original definition included a certain level of recognition, or winning a particular award. It might have included achieving an imagined level of wealth, or positively impacting their industry. Perhaps it included producing a set number of films, or taking on the role of a particular character. Maybe they aspired to being invited to participate in a specific museum’s show, or performing at a particular venue, such as Carnegie Hall.

I bet most of these luminaries would acknowledge they were successful. I wonder how many would say they had achieved the “Success” of their dreams. 

I say that because “Success” is a journey rather than a specific destination. Typically, when we achieve the level of success that was our goal at the outset of our careers, it has shifted. Other opportunities have arisen and outside forces have intervened. Those influences alter, and usually raise the bar on what we originally identified as “Success.” And sometimes, that path to success has taken a detour we didn’t foresee or over which we had control.

“Success” is seldom one-dimensional. It rarely involves achieving only one goal, such as a certain level of wealth, a set number of clients,  a proscribed number of published books , or work exhibited in one particular museum.

Upon reaching that goal, the natural human response is to ask, “Okay, now what?”

Satisfaction is seldom stationary.

And that’s okay, because ambition and pursuit of yet another goal fuels advancement…for the field in which we work, for our community, for our society.

So my advice, in setting markers for success, is to set short- medium- and long-term goals. Continually assess where you are on that journey. Reset those goals regularly. 

Along the way, don’t forget to celebrate the achievements. Forgive yourself for the detours. And revise your goals to continue moving in the direction  or your dreams.

Success is a journey, so regularly define your destination.