Success has changed. Have you?

If there was one thing all the COVID nonsense taught us, it was to reframe how we think about what success means, and how to fill our lives with purpose and meaning instead.

That’s the gist of a story appearing at Thrive Global. Written by Barbara Waxman, who works as a life stage expert, she explains how the paradigm of success has changed dramatically in the last three years.

In the past, success was predominantly defined by external things like promotions, achievement, financial rewards and accumulating bigger and better material things. However, the current Great Resignation changed all that after tens of millions of people left their jobs to pursue more meaningful opportunities.

“Perhaps all the suffering, all the loss over the last two-plus years, will result in a new and healthier consciousness about what we value and what we work for,” Barbara wrote. “What I am seeing in my work with clients and the broader world is a change in the very nature of ambition.”

She explained that success is better identified by this formula:

Seek authenticity + cultivate alignment + energize activation = SUCCESS

Seeking authenticity requires people to really know themselves because their perception becomes reality.

“Understanding the contours of your life, the story of who you are, and recognizing the story you tell yourself is powerful,” she added. “Therefore, it’s essential to explore your life story, examine and question at least some of your assumptions.”

One way to do that is to engage in what Barbara calls conducting a “life review” where you learn what truly drives you to give you a sense of clarity as well as guide healthy decision-making.

“Those values become that authentic voice that resonates deep within you, driving the kind of decision-making that enables you to be clear about when you want to say ‘Absolutely Yes’ to someone or something, and just as importantly, when a ‘Hell No’ is what’s called for,” she explained.

That’s the process I had to engage in when developing the concept for Forward From 50. I literally had at least six options I could pursue and even briefly contemplated trying to accomplish several at once. Then I realized the futility of that kind of thinking because success requires a laser-like focus of intense thinking and activity.

It’s that authenticity that gives you lift and momentum. I know that’s true for me. I was raised to be a people-pleaser. I’d be happy if I could just make enough people happy with me. I was told the worst thing to happen in life was to have people upset with something I did, said or thought.

But just like the lyrics of Ricky Nelson’s hit song Garden Party says, “I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can’t please everyone. So ya got to please yourself.”

Once you realize that, you are taking the first steps toward personal success. Barbara compared the process to truing a bicycle wheel to bring it back into alignment and ensure a much smoother ride.

“Alignment is the secret sauce of happiness and success — it allows you to put yourself in opportunity’s way — the world opens up to you,” she explained.

However, a well-tuned bicycle with true wheels only works best when it’s put into action.

“You can redefine success any way you’d like, but it still requires action to bring it to light,” said Barbara. “The path toward achieving anything big begins by starting small, through micro-ambitious steps. Small, identifiable, measurable actions grow up to become big change.”

That’s where I tend to drop the ball. I can generate tons of ideas every day, but putting them into action is an entirely different matter. I have at least a dozen outstanding ideas to write books and create websites to help other people. But, each one requires time and effort. For me, it’s much easier to dream up a new idea than it is to work hard to make one of my earlier ideas successful.

Many success gurus preach that saying “yes” to one thing often means saying “no” to hundred other wonderful things. When you identify your purpose and center your life around pursuing that, then true success is sure to follow.

“What the pandemic and the great resignation are facilitating is a new understanding of success that is less determined by paycheck or public profile than by an inner sense of authenticity, alignment and value-driven intention that drives your decision making,” Barbara wrote.

Her entire article can be found at Thrive Global. It’s worth reading.