When people set out with a goal, like to start their own business, the achievement is clear. When the business opens, the goal has been reached.
But many entrepreneurs do not feel successful at that moment. Doubt quickly creeps in: What if the business has no customers? What if only the launch went well? Most new businesses fail. Owning a business is only a dream.
Fear soon overtakes you and you press on until you reach the next milestone moment. And that moment…whenever it comes…it hits you like a bright burst of sunshine.
Perhaps it’s the day you first realize that you have control of your own schedule and can really go to your friend’s wedding for a week, and not just one day. Or maybe it’s the day when your child asks if you are coming to the game and you do not hesitate in saying: “yes of course I’ll be there.”
You don’t check the calendar. You don’t ask permission. You just know, you can be part of that moment.
The average person spends 2,080 hours a year on the job. This is only one-third of your entire year. Yet it feels like so much more. Your employment and the commitments associated with it take so much of your energy and fill many worry spots in your brain. When you are finally free of someone else’s all encompassing agenda, you can take that time back.
That’s when you have achieved success.
The word success comes from the Latin, succedere, which means to ‘come close after.’ This definition seems to be an unintended origin for such an important word in our language. After all, to ‘come close’ is not to succeed at all in our culture. Coming close means you didn’t win. It’s like what they say about winning a silver medal at the Olympics – you’re the best of all the losers. People don’t say you’re the second best in the world – okay some will – but they’re thinking…You lost. You lost the gold medal.
Society measures success by those who win the awards, contests, and at making money. Regardless of whether you credit extraordinary ability, hard work, luck or circumstance – success means you are popular, wealthy, recognized, honored, and so on. In all circumstances it is the opposite of failure, of being a loser or a nobody in a world searching for approbation.
As an entrepreneur, it does you little good to try and cling to that broad meaning of success. You’re never going to know exactly how much money everyone else has. So if you try and run the money race, you’ll be a rat on a spinning wheel. You’re also never going to know if you’re the most popular person in your world – or in your neighborhood, in your genre, your industry – because it’s a big world and there are so many products or services. You could be number #1 by one measure today, and find out you’re #93 by a different measure or # 1,993,000 tomorrow.
What was the number one movie at the box office last week? What about number one year to date? What about in China the world’s biggest market? What about number one in terms of uninflated dollars? Who is number one? What is number one?
The only way to know if you have achieved success is to create the definition for yourself and stick to your idea of what success means to you.
Success has its more positive meanings. For individuals who are pursuing goals and objectives, success to is to achieve the result or accomplish a particular purpose. If you left the 9-to-5 grind to start your own business, success could mean getting away from all the reasons you wanted out of the job in the first place. Just as you left the formal workforce and went out on your own to live on your terms, you should define success as you see fit as well.
Aspiring entrepreneurs can define their own success by setting goals and working to achieve them. For some, the objective will be to create an online product available for sale, for others perhaps getting the first 1,000 names on an e-mail list, or 100 attendees at a webinar. Each goal is its own measure of success of your success. Real success, tied to you – the entrepreneur’s faith in moving forward and achieving even more.
Those who do not set goals tend to drift, uncertain of where they can establish their footing and begin to change their outcomes. Sometimes the idea of the goal itself prompts those who are afraid of their own success, to curl up and avoid any semblance of working on achievement. These people are unlikely to be entrepreneurs. Unlikely to be striving for a weightier outcome.
As you consider your own world, where are you positioned going forward? If you are tired of the 9-to-5 grind and hoping one day to have control of your own schedule, then you are likely leaning towards a life as an entrepreneur who works to make her own magic happen.
Being an entrepreneur is not an easy task. The best thing is your opportunity to live your life on your terms as you deliver value based on your singular ability. The worst is the risk you take on for the privilege.
Those that shy away from the entrepreneur’s life are likely unable to fathom having no regular paycheck or daily routine to fall back on if the project does not turn out as imagined.
But those who embrace the life are quite prepared to risk the initial disruption to give themselves an opportunity for long-term gain. Because when the work is done, and the business is thriving, the entrepreneur at the helm is truly in charge, not just of a business operation, but also of her own life.
No more asking permission to take a day off, or missing events held during a week day, or dealing with difficult people who have limited stakes in the work. Instead, you establish the world you want to work in and live to that standard every day.
Being an entrepreneur, your own boss is the goal, but it’s a destination. To get there you must travel a journey of ups-and-downs. And you must stay focused on where you want to be and on the value you have placed in reaching that location.
Define what real success looks like to you.
Then move forward with that vision as your guide and umbrella on the road to your lifestyle dream.
You can set typical business goals such as revenue, profit and customers. But you also set personal goals like going to the events you would pass up in the past, or making sure you attend everyone of your child’s games or recitals. Or reading all the great classics, one after another for a year or two. Or traveling to the top of the Eiffel Tower or to walk on the Great Wall. Whatever it is that your dreaming about doing one day – make that the definition of your success.
When you achieve each activity you have only dreamt of doing, you have reached success.
And when you are able to achieve these activities, because you decided to become an entrepreneur and take control of your own life, you have exponentially achieved even more.
You have made yourself the focus of your own success story. And that is the greatest success of all.
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