Update Your Operating System

From year to year or even month-to-month, what we consider “being successful” changes.  Sometimes, we change priorities without realizing it and then focus on what we have stopped doing without realizing what we have started doing.   I find it helpful to articulate what specific daily actions and life style choices we are choosing at this point in our life, and why.  It comes down to living with purpose and taking time to take responsibility for our current situation.

Murky thoughts mixed with actions that we do on autopilot can leave us feeling confused and sometimes even make us feel like we are not good enough or not doing enough.  Many of my clients will articulate to me a list of activities that would make anyone exhausted, and then tell me how they don’t think they are doing “enough.”  These are active people who are certainly not sitting around on the couch all week. So why do we sometimes feel this way? Two main reasons, one, is we don’t know what we are striving for, and two is, we don’t take time to update our personal measures of success.

Most people would agree that feeling a sense of pride in how you use your time is important. One way to maintain this sense of pride is to be clear on what is currently important to you right now, and take time to understand any shift in priorities.  What you once strived for may no longer need your “striving” but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth enjoying.  Perhaps five years ago you landed your dream job.  Perhaps this job was a reach, and you were so grateful for it, but now you have mastered the tasks of this job and it no longer feels like a challenge and its time to set a new goal.   On the other hand, maybe you recently had a child and you are ok if your professional life stays on autopilot for a bit and need to recognize that “success” looks a little (or a lot) different.  Maybe you are decidedly recovering from burnout from a busy career and markers of success that focus on work-life balance now look much different from your “busy” days.  Either way, it’s important to know what you are reaching for.  Only then can you celebrate your success.

Exercise: Define your current personal measures of success
What does personal success look like for you right now?
What specific actions support this success?
How is this success different than years past?
What are your markers of psychological success? (How do you want to feel regularly?)
What are you no longer using as a marker of success?
Remember to celebrate this new success… especially the seemingly little things.  Celebrating small successes builds pathways in our brains that reminds us that we can accomplish what we set out to do and…. thus inspires us to seek out more personal success over and over again.

Cheers to you and your updated operating system.