I had a dream recently where I speaking at a High School graduation.  I told these young minds to forget about what society tells them.  To live their own Cookie Cutterslives, dream their own dreams and define their success.  For dramatic effect I threw cookie cutters on the ground symbolizing the confines of others expectations.  After which I was thrown out of the ceremony.  Then I woke up…

Isn’t it funny how dreams are sometimes not that far from reality?  Isn’t it interesting how society gives lip service to individuality but when you try to be your true self you are shut down, scolded or worse?  It’s not a secret that not everyone was made to be a PhD, start a business, climb the corporate ladder or to stay home and raise a family.  You get the point!  We were all born with unique gifts and talents to enrich this world IF we use them.

Yet when I ask people how THEY, not their parents, teachers, family, spouse…but how THEY define success they often say “No one has ever asked me that before”.  Well friend I’m asking you.  How do you define your version of success?  Here are 7 tips to help you answer that question.  And if you want to have some fun – ask 3 people the same question.

1. Repeat After Me:  “I Am Not Selfish”:  Realize that defining your version of success is not selfish.  Maybe you already have a good job, a great husband, a nice family but you are living your mom or dad’s version of success and you’re miserable!   Let me share a secret with you – you are not the only one!  To not let your light shine is the true tragedy.  Why?  Because the world misses out on what you have to offer.

2. Pay Attention to Your Day Dreams:  What do you day dream about?   Going on a mission trip, teaching horseback riding, inventing something, writing a book, helping people, solving math problems, editing stories, crime scene investigation, owning a farm, flying a plane, fill in the blank etc.  Your day dreams will provide clues for defining success for you.

3. Listen to Others Comments: What do others say you do well?  Do you put information together like no one else they know?  Can you bridge a tough communication gap?  Are you known for reading way too many self-help books?  Listen to what others are saying about your uniqueness.

4. Observe Yourself As You Play “The Game”:  Life is sadly often a game all about connection and fitting in.  How do you play that game?  What part of your identify do you give up when you play?  This will tell you more about your true skills, talents and abilities.

5. Self-Discovery:  Take a personality/strengths test (i.e. Myer Briggs, DISC, Strength Finder 2.0 etc.), take a personal development class, enroll in a mentor program, go to a conference, hire a coach, spend time with yourself to re-discover your strengths.

6. Write it Down:  Success is what your life will look like once you have achieved some of your dreams.  Write the story of your life 5 or 10 years from now.  What are you doing? Where are you living?  What is your day like?  If a story doesn’t work for you draw or create a visual for your version of success.

7. Don’t Quit Your Job After Reading this Post!  Whatever your definition of success is chances are you can find it in some version of what you’re doing now or what you’re doing now will help to fund what you want to do.  Yes it can be hard to do two things at once but it’s a lot harder to get business/book/invention/[insert dream] off the ground if you’re broke.

Which of these 7 tips will you use to define what success looks like in your life TODAY?

Copyright 2013, Mary R Miller