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5 Ways to create your own definition of success, no matter where you work

There’s been a lot of buzz about Amazon’s corporate culture the past couple of months. After reading one of those articles, one of my executive coaching clients asked, “Is this really where we’re heading in corporate America?”

She asked a great question. When the obsessive drive for winning at all costs becomes our master, it’s hard not to feel pessimistic. Until we can begin to break the trance that tells us we’re never enough, no matter what we accomplish, it’s challenging to ever feel satisfied or fulfilled.

When we spend so much energy basing our value on what we produce, we can easily lose sight of who we are, until one day, we wake up and don’t recognize the person we once knew ourselves to be. Often unconsciously, in order to adapt and advance in careers, we start sacrificing what’s most important and begin to lose parts of our authentic selves as we climb up the corporate ladder.

In a New York Times article, a former six-year employee of Amazon, Dina Vaccari said, “I was so addicted to wanting to be successful there. For those of us who went to work there, it was like a drug that we could get self-worth from.”

That’s the problem.

When we allow our self-worth to be defined by others’ metrics, we lose our own sense of personal value and what has defined our sense of “true worth” in the world. We start living in reflection to what we think is expected, even when it doesn’t fit with who we are. How can we awaken from the trance of “not-enoughness” and still be successful in our lives and careers?

Define what success means to you

Make sure you know whose definition of “success” determines your sense of self-worth. Is it yours or someone else’s? Does it make you feel empty or fulfilled? How will you know you’ve been successful (with respect to the contributions you want to make to your loved ones and to the world)?

Determine your non-negotiables

We all make trade-offs and sacrifices in our lives and careers, but we need to be mindful of the costs of those choices. What trade-offs and sacrifices are you willing to make and why? What are your non-negotiables, the things over which you’re unwilling to cross the line in your pursuit of success?

Pay attention to what you hear

We don’t always get to choose to whom we have to listen, but we do get to decide how we’ll respond to what we hear. How much psychic energy do you give to those who seek to diminish you — including the voice of your inner critic? Do you allow negative feedback to make you feel inferior, or do you use it as a means to help you learn and grow? With whom do you spend your time — people who build you up or with those who tear you down?

Treat yourself as you would a friend

Treat yourself with the kindness and compassion you would treat a close friend whenever you find yourself experiencing feelings of “not-enoughness” or self-doubt. What words of advice would you offer a friend? In what ways might you extend that same compassion to yourself?

Be mindful of the choices you make

Our lives are a reflection of the choices we make every day, so it’s important to be aware of the impact of those decisions. Are the choices you’re making moving you closer to or further away from your values? Are they moving you closer to or further away from your own definition of success? What are the metrics you use to define success in your life and career? Are they ones that will help you thrive?

The answers to these questions will help you determine if your definition of success is helping you or hurting you.

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