What defines success? Some think success is defined by money. For others, it’s serving their families. For still others, it’s achieving a desired level of career success. In different contexts, success is defined differently. We’re focused here on how to be successful in a job and love it.
Many of us define success in our work by what our work enables, neglecting to think about the work itself. Lots of people write vaguely about the importance of passion and loving what you do. Here’s the bottom line up front. It’s really hard to be good at something and truly succeed at it unless you’re passionate about it. So do you want to be yet another journeyman doing a middling job at something you like a middling amount? Or do you want to give yourself a shot at blowing the lights out because you love what you do so much it doesn’t feel like work?
To figure out what they really love, more and more people are turning to ideamix coaches to help them deepen their understanding of themselves. And guess what, when you’re doing something you love, you acquire knowledge and skills faster, often turning what is a weakness when in the wrong job into a strength in the right job.
ideamix Coach Susan is a leadership and career coach who specializes in helping individuals find what they truly love and make the transition into the jobs where they’re best positioned to succeed. She’d been to that movie in her own career, having been in jobs that didn’t feel quite right for her. Susan uses that personal insight and to help individuals that navigate their own journey – here are the highlights.
What is Success? Hint: No One Can Define It But You
Susan notes that young professionals entering the workforce generally define success as doing what they enjoy. Over time, we come to realize and accept that finances play an important role in career choices. For most of us, what we earn in our jobs drive our lifestyle choices for ourselves and our families.
Each of us needs to think through the following questions:
What do you consider important?
What are you passionate about that makes you who you are?
What do you value?
How do you want to be remembered?
Often, the broader societies we live in define success not as loving what we do, but by the financial success we achieve. Loving what we do is the guide to being successful, Susan tells us: “You can love what you do and not feel like you’re successful and then you’ve got to redesign.” For me, a part of that process of redesign is redefining success as a composite of what I love to do and understanding the financial success I can achieve doing it.
For Susan, coaching plays an important role here. It guides you through this process of redesign and opens your eyes to things you may not have seen before. She says, “Forget the word success. If you figure out who you are and what you love, it’s all going to fall into place because you’re going to be successful at what you do. But so many people go after what they think they should do as opposed to what they want to do.”
How do we develop our personal definition of success? First, Coach Susan recommends we ask ourselves “some of those questions about what’s important to us about our life: “What do I want to have accomplished by the end of my life?” From here, go backwards, what does what you want to accomplish look like in the next 20, 10, 5 and 1 years. This will provide you with insight into what success means to you but even as you look at that, “you’ve got to recognize it’s all going to change. Every decade, success might look very different. You have to recognize that success and our definition for it is a personal thing, and it can keep evolving as we change.” Success isn’t a single monolithic thing we strive for our entire lives. It isn’t linear. It is dynamic – with an ever-changing definition.
Perfection is the enemy
The idea of having one dream job is something that guides many of us through our daily lives. When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Now I’m going to study chemistry. What exactly is my dream job now? I do not know that there is one – I am mapping my course as I progress, thinking in multi-year increments.
The reality is, our dream job changes over time. Coach Susan sees that “you can turn any job you have into your dream job,” so don’t let the idea prevent you from enjoying your current experience. Make the most of the job you have right now – that is the most proximate learning opportunity.
“If you’re not happy with your current job, think about one of the aspects that you do love and figure out how you could do that more.” For Coach Susan, the key is to redesign your current situation, not quit right away. Perfection does not exist and the grass always seems greener elsewhere.
Susan sees perfectionism as a societal problem: “We’re seeking perfection instead of recognizing that it’s all about accepting and rejoicing in the imperfection of life. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t get hung up on perfection because there are aspects of every job that are hard.” Letting go of perfection allows us to live in and make the most of our present.
Finding your superpower
So how can we be successful and love what we do? Susan recommends starting the most important tool we have – self reflection – “to understand what your values are, what your beliefs are and what you truly love.” The common denominator is your starting point. Finding what you love means finding your superpower, something unique to you. A superpower is not the same thing as a strength. Each of us has many strengths. A superpower is something we do effortlessly – something that energizes us. If you feel drained most of the time in your current job, it’s time to find your superpower. For Coach Susan, this is where the brainstorming begins: “You pick out the things you need to be doing more of.”
Once you identify the superpower idea, move into a prototyping phase to experiment with it. Susan envisions a Venn diagram: “when you find your life, values and principles overlapping with the work you’re doing, you’re going to be successful.”
The conclusion is simple. We must ask ourselves if we love what we do. If the answer is yes, we’ll be successful at it. We each need to focus on our own definition of success and do the work within ourselves to define success. ideamix coaches like Coach Susan have helped ideamix clients find their superpower, and in doing so, succeed at what they love.