Helping More

Painting of a couple


Changing How You Define Success Can Ensure Happiness

By: Ellen Berk, LCSW, BCD

Winging his way back to Denver, Lewis began to think about the job pressures he left before Christmas. He wants to make some changes as to how he measures success for himself. "It is amazing what two weeks away from the office has done for my thinking processes," he told me. While watching the waves crash on the beach, Lewis had realized that his self worth was entirely dependent upon how much money he made. His thoughts drifted to the conclusion that he would have few moments of peace and happiness if monetary gains alone remained his barometer for success.

It is a common occurrence to measure self-worth by monetary gains. You paint yourself into a corner when you use only one barometer for success. Lewis thinks it impossible to be happy because he cannot reach the monetary peaks that his father had set for him long ago even though he earns far more than the average Denver income for his profession. This has spiraled downward into his thinking that he is less a man than his father, too nice a guy, and just not shrewd enough to be successful.

Are Your Measures of Success Helping or Hurting You?

Begin by outlining how you currently measure success. Are your measures realistic? Have several barometers for success. Distinguish your measures from those imposed upon you. If someone asked you to sell "Edsels" for a million dollars and you can't sell them, don't conclude you are a failure. A realistic definition of success would be based upon a number of factors. Make an honest evaluation of your job performance, your professional marketplace, your talents, strengths, and weaknesses, your career expectations and industry standards. In what areas are you a cut above industry standards with your capabilities? Are there areas in which you need additional support or training? What other factors affect the picture? Be thorough in your self-evaluation.

Ten New Ways to Define Your Success

  • I am assertive and honest in my dealings with clients and the company.
  • I have not swindled anyone.
  • I listen and respond to deserved criticism by responding with what I will alter about myself to help the situation.
  • I can show sympathy by forgiving mistakes.
  • I will help a colleague who is struggling with a project.
  • I look for the positive characteristics in co-workers and how I can best work with them.
  • I have earned the respect of my peers through my fair dealings with them.
  • I make an effort to resolve a conflict rather than let it fester.
  • I can admit it when I am wrong.
  • I am genuine and generous with compliments.
  • I exploit opportunity with my creativity without hurting others.

Happiness can be attained to some degree in the workplace when you focus on your relationship with yourself and your relationship with colleagues on a parallel track with business objectives. Happiness is easier to maintain when your successes are based upon intrinsic factors. Examples of intrinsic factors include your attitude, your communication style, and your behavior toward each challenging situation. You have a greater possibility to feel daily satisfaction when you minimize the emphasis that you put on factors that you cannot fully control.

To find out more about your own communication style, Assess Your Communication Style.

Also check out the list of Recommended Reading.

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Discovering Your Life Goals
Changing How You Define Success Can Ensure Happiness
Coping With Depression/Losses
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