The answer to ‘how do you measure success’ inevitably varies from person to person.
Just as well all value different things, we all have different ways of gauging our progress in life.
However, although there are many valid ways you can choose to measure your success, it’s essential that you choose one.
Without a way to judge whether you are on track in different areas of your life, you inevitably drift.
Failing to measure your success is indeed a choice to not live life to its full potential.
Today, Destroy The Fear will explore the right and wrong ways to measure your success.
Let’s get to it.
Define What Success Means To You
Before you can measure your success, you first need to have a clear definition of what it means to you.
Unless we take the time to explore and personally define the concept of success for our own lives, we automatically assume the definition we have absorbed through society and those around us.
This assumed idea of success inevitably doesn’t provide the best fit for our own lives. Also, any adopted definition of success will inevitably be hazy and conflicted as it is likely to come from several sources.
To define your own version of success, simply follow these several steps:
- Make a list of all the areas of your life that mean something to you. This could include, for example, your work, your money, your health, and your social life.
- Write down a vision of what ultimate success would look like in each area. Dream big and don’t limit yourself. This should be an ultimate vision and something you will work towards over an extended period of time.
- Work backwards from your ultimate goal in each area in stages. For example, if your ultimate health goal is to lose 30KG, you could set yourself milestones of 5KG or something similar. Break each goal down into small steps.
- Set yourself a rough timeline for each milestone. You can adjust this along the way based on your progress, but it’s good to have an outline of how long the process is likely to take.
- Specify the action steps you will need to take to reach the first milestone in each area you have chosen.
By following the above process, you have a clear, actionable definition of success in each area of your life that is important to you. You have a set of long-term aims, a series of milestones along the way, and the process to follow to reach the first stage in each success area.
Do – Measure Success By Your Values
Now that you’ve defined success, let’s consider how you measure success.
The first thing to do is measure success by your values.
How is this carried out in practice?
- The first thing to do is have a clear list of your values. This should be the highest guiding ideas that guide your decisions and actions in life. Freedom is an example of a guiding value. Material gain is another. Knowing your values is essential to effectively and meaningfully measure your success.
- Assess each of the goals you broke down in the above process by your values. Is each eventual aim in line with your personal values? If not, can it be adjusted so it is? If not, you may wish to consider choosing a new goal entirely.
- Over time, you may adjust both your goals and your values. Periodically be sure to reassess whether both your goals and your values are aligned with one another.
By ensuring that your definition of success is in line with your values, you give yourself a deeper sense of satisfaction that comes with ethical behavior.
This transcends the sense of achievements of material accomplishment and is likely to give you far greater peace of mind over time.
Don’t – Measure Success By Society’s Trends
One of the worst things to do is measure your success by the trends of society.
This is because trends are constantly changing. This is designed to keep people in a state of insecurity which makes them more susceptible to consumerism and chasing the latest fashion.
How can you ensure you are measuring your success by the yardstick of your personal values as opposed to the trends and fashions of society?
- When you change one of your success goals, consider the motivation behind your choice. Are you changing in accordance with your own desires and values, or due to a societal trend?
- Be careful of the company you keep and the books you read. It’s been proven that people are closely influenced by the people around them and the material they consume. Avoid people or books that promote ideas of success that are out of line with your own value system.
- Try and avoid as much mass media as possible. Don’t mindlessly watch TV or Netflix. It’s fine to choose a few things you enjoy and follow them, but mindlessly watching TV makes you more susceptible to society’s definition of success, as well as blunting your creativity and focus in the process.
If you choose to follow the way that society measures success, you will not be able to measure it by your own values. This ensures that your idea of success will always be changing and you will never have a stable ethical base to operate from.
Do – Measure Success Against How You Used To Be
One of the worst things we can do is judge our success by factors that are outside of our control.
When you stop and think about it, the only thing that is truly in your control is yourself.
Therefore, the only sensible thing to measure your current success against is your past self.
How do we go about putting this idea into practice, and using our past self as the template we measure our present success in comparison to?
- Keep track. If you don’t keep a measurement of your success, you won’t have anything to compare yourself too. You need data to work with. Some areas lend themselves naturally to this, such as finance and weight. Other less quantifiable goals, such as emotional state, need to be managed through methods such as journaling.
- Accept reality. You need to accept you’re human. You are likely to fluctuate in your progress. As long as you trend in the right direction over the long run you are on course for success.
- Trust yourself. Many people will try and give you feedback along the way. Although they are well meaning, it’s important you stick to your own data as your means of comparison. Don’t listen to others’ opinions of how you used to be or how you are now.
Measuring your present success against your past self is the best way to ensure you focus on what is in your control. Doing this will keep you on the path to positivity and productivity as you measure your success.
Don’t – Measure Success Against Others
One of our biggest temptations is to measure our success against what we perceive to be the success of others.
This is especially encouraged in the age of social media bragging where people obtain validation through likes and other forms of online recognition.
This is a recipe for disaster. We never truly know if another person is succeeding. We only have our own flawed perception to go by.
So how do we avoid measuring our success against that of other people?
- Avoid bragging. If you brag, you set yourself up for failure. You should want to succeed for your own personal satisfaction. Avoid bragging as it gets you hooked on seeking external validation.
- Consider the two circles. You have a circle of influence and a circle of concern. The circle of influence is what you can control while your circle of concern is the things you care about but can’t control. Don’t confuse the two. You are the only thing fully in your circle of influence so don’t measure your success by others.
- Avoid external validation. Don’t fall into the trap of seeking likes on social media or other forms of validation outside of yourself. You need to find both motivation and satisfaction from within yourself, rather than externally.
Measuring your success by that of others is a very bad idea.
For your own wellbeing, not to mention your effectiveness, never measure your success in any area of your life in comparison to how you perceive other people to be doing.
Do – Measure Success Over The Long Term
One of the most important things you can do is measure your success over the long term.
After all, we’re in this for long term results. Any area of your life that is important to experience success in is one which should be a long term priority.
So how do we take action in order to ensure our focus is on the long term when we measure success?
- Get realistic timescale ideas. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. For any goal you have, there will be others who have achieved it. You can use their example to gauge how long your own success is likely to take.
- Think short, medium, and long term. Set milestones in three areas. By doing this, you ensure you stay motivated and on track no matter whether you are operating in the short, medium, or long term.
- Underestimation and overestimation. People tend to overestimate what they can do in the short term and underestimate what they can do in the long term. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Measuring your success in the long term allows you to set meaningful goals. You can make real, lasting change in your life which is measured in the short, medium and, most importantly, long term milestones.
Don’t – Focus On Short-Term Results
You are likely to be tempted to check your progress in the short term.
This is natural as it’s understandable to want to see progress in something you care about.
However, this is in contradiction to the suggested long term focus.
So how can we avoid measuring our success in the short term?
- Stick to your measurement plan. By having written short, medium, and long term goals, you ensure you only measure your success at the times you have chosen. This stops you checking too erratically or frequently.
- Be stoic. Try not to get too affected by short term changes, either positive or negative. Stay calm and focused on the plan.
- Avoid setting too short term goals. Don’t make your short term goals too soon. This will lead to you taking dangerous shortcuts and risks which are not sustainable.
By avoiding focusing on the short term, you keep your eye on the prize. You stay sane and stay focused on measuring your success by the lasting change you achieve in your life.
How Do You Measure Your Success – Final Thoughts
Thanks for checking out Destroy The Fear’s answer to the question ‘how do you measure success’.
We hope you now have some useful, actionable ideas for measuring success in the long run.
We’d love to know what works for you.
How do you define success?
Which areas of your life are most important for you to achieve success in?
And, most importantly, how do you measure success?
Let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to chat!