What is “success”? This is a question we spend a lot of time pondering. It shapes the decisions we make even as young children as our inquisition into our progress of growing-up is constantly being graded, evaluated, and judged. And as we grow older, the inquisition continues and the grading, evaluating and judging grows in magnitude as the stakes get higher. During this time, an ideal model of success emerges...and two realities are always true. This ideal model is never who/where we are and it always has more fame, fortune, talent, influence or combination of the four. So, we are caught in the proverbial rat race...seeking this ideal model but never quite achieving it. It eludes us, mocking us as we try harder and harder to realize it. And then we wonder why we feel unfulfilled, frustrated, worn-out...a failure.
As I have progressed in my career and my life, a new model of success has emerged for me. It has emerged out of necessity for my own mental and physical health but also from seeking a new perspective that has brought fulfillment and reinvigorated energy into my life. I share this perspective with you now in the form REVISED Realities that shape this model of success:
Reality #1: “Retirement” is not a moment-in-time, it is a mindset. I learned this when I left my corporate job to start my own branding and marketing business. It is much easier to see from the outside, frankly. There is this arbitrary goal of “retirement” that everyone seems to be working towards that defines when their life can truly begin. This is usually around 60+ when the kids are grown and you can start pulling from your 401K. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait until 60 to start my life. Here is the mindset shift...it isn’t the moment-in-time that defines retirement, it is having the money, time and freedom to do what you want. How do you get that? Keep reading.
Reality #2: Amassing wealth is more than what’s in your 401K. (DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a financial advisor and this is not financial advice. This is based on my own experiences. Please consult a professional.) No matter how evolved we feel we are from our parents, most of us still have the same beliefs about money. The biggest one is saving as much money as you can in your 401K so that you will have enough to “retire”. Honestly, what are the chances we will actually retire and not do anything that earns an income either out of boredom or necessity? I diversify outside of my 401K in investments that are more liquid. In this way, the money is available when opportunities arise. Also, I have reframed my spending in what will truly bring me happiness. Our egos tell us to buy because we need to or deserve it, but in general, we are usually satisfied with way less than we thought we would be. For example, I wanted/needed extra space to “chill”. We had 4 teenagers at home and there was no place to really get away from them. Instead of buying a more expensive home with more space and putting ourselves into monstrous debt, we chose the more economical route of adding on a 4-seasons room and a patio/koi pond. Now I have TWO spaces, a lot more peace and not as much debt.
Reality #3: You teach people how to treat you. The company will never say: “You have done enough. You should stop working now.” They will take whatever you give them. So, it is up to you to define what that will be. There is a lot of fear when people contemplate boundary setting because they worry how it will look...grading, evaluating, judging. And in all transparency, setting boundaries could impact timing and votes for career “rewards”. Which is why success needs to be more than just a destination. It needs to be in the journey, mission, day-to-day wins, and the impact you have on others. It also needs to be balanced with what is important in life: physical and mental health, time with loved ones and yourself, and freedom to explore other places your talents are best appreciated.
Reality #4: “Rewards” in your career (i.e. raises, promotion, etc.) are not directly proportional to the time and energy spent. When I get asked what my biggest revelation after leaving my corporate job, this is what I say: “90% of your reward comes from 75% of your work. But we will work an extra 75% to get that extra 10%.” You can argue with me about the numbers but it doesn’t change the reality that we tend to over-invest our time and energy in pursuit of career “rewards”. If we made the choice to retain that time and energy, what could you do with it? You might then have the freedom to start a side hustle, volunteer, learn a new skill...whatever is on your list for “when I retire”. I am not saying to slack off. I am saying our careers don’t need to and shouldn’t define and consume us.
Reality #5: Thank God for unanswered prayers. If you are more a Stones fan than a Garth fan, this could also be titled “You don’t always get what you want, you get what you need”. This is all about embracing the journey. Sometimes we get so fixated on our future vision of success that we miss enjoying the successes that occur along the way. Often times within these moments are opportunities that could be a better, more fulfilling path if we had the flexibility and openness to consider it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have big goals. It just means we don’t know what we don’t know, and there just might be a better way of getting there than the one we think we know.
Those are the 5 REVISED Realities for success. Your biggest challenge to really living these realities will be your ego. We live in a society that still holds up the archaic ideal model of success. From the media we consume, to the business and lifestyle podcasts we listen to, to the affluence we see in our everyday lives, it makes the social circles and status of these folks an aspirational goal. But you must now be asking yourself...is it real?
And, as always, if you find yourself having a hard time processing through these REVISED Realities of success, give us a call. We have been there. We will coach you through it!
Anne Candido and April Martini are the Co-Founders of Forthright People, an On-Demand Marketing and Branding Agency focused on helping businesses quickly capture the hearts of their customers without breaking the bank. They believe in “real-time brand-building”, which delivers strategically-informed execution, creating immediate business impact while also developing equity for systemic growth. And since their team consists of an extended network of talented freelancers and boutique agencies, they do not require hefty retainers and contracts to do it. Contact them via email: Anne@Forthright-People.com and April@Forthright-People.com.
Check out our podcast! Marketing Smarts. From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so that you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so that whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.