Today’s post is the fourth in an emerging series, writing The Manifesto For New Work Pioneers. It looks at how, by redefining success for yourself, you can switch your whole relationship with work and life.
If you’re anything like me, you were schooled early about what “good” looked like: stellar qualifications; degrees from the best universities; blue chip company jobs; big job titles; mortgages attached to prestigious houses; marriage; children; cars; foreign holidays; and state-of-the-art gadgets.
With the list comes the implicit condition: we’re OK people only IF we achieve these things.
As a New Work Pioneer, and in your quest for a different relationship with work you are choosing, however, to see success through a different lens. As a result you’re opening yourself to new sources of personal growth and inspiration.
Single focus to whole life
Yes, success in work or business is important to you, but you’re understanding that sheer single-mindedness leaves you feeling incomplete.
You are giving yourself permission for other things to need their space too. What they are, and the priority and weight you give them, will be unique to you. Typically, however, they’ll include your own personal development, your close relationships, your children and your family, your friends, your health and well-being, and the interests that capture your imagination that have nothing or little to do with work. Whatever, you’re dropping your need to feel conflicted about them.
As I wrote in Revealed: Why New Work Pioneers REALLY Bother, you are aiming to give yourself the pleasure of life’s positive emotions by being present to a range of life experiences.
It’s not about balance for me. Rather it’s about harmony. New Work Pioneers are finding ways to allow different parts of themselves to coexist peaceably. This often means they’ll reset their expectations of themselves in certain areas in order to achieve just that. Perhaps they’ll choose to work less hours. Or to achieve a different level of work. At the same time, they’ll place more value on their non-work successes: the richness of their couple relationships; the closeness of their parenting; the level of personal energy and fitness they’re able to achieve and maintain.
What looks good to what feels right
As a New Work Pioneer, you are becoming less interested in gathering life’s badges. You’re questioning the real value of “things”. You’re realising that what glitters on the outside doesn’t necessarily make you feel sparkly inside. Not that there’s any harm in having possessions, but only if, you use Jen Smith’s phrase from earlier this week, they don’t possess you.
One person with whom I recently worked had set her sights on becoming a partner in a magic circle law firm. Like coveting a dress, she’d wanted to wear this accomplishment so that others could admire her in it. But the relentless drive for it was making her miserable. When she was able to see that her real goal in life was her own happiness, she revisited her need for the partner badge and decided that where she’d be most happy was as an excellent senior associate. This gave her time and space to see friends and to engage in other meaningful interests that gave her energy and made life feel well-lived.
Arbitrary standards to being your own personal best
Who defines our measures of success? More often than not they come from our society or from our family. They place value, for example, on steady jobs and senior positions and think that working flexibly or taking a more artistic, creative or entrepreneurial route is just a bit flaky. Their definitions serve the implicit purpose of keeping us all in our place.
Except, as a New Work Pioneer, you don’t want to be stuck in a place.
So, you’re unhooking yourself from the external noise. You’re figuring what your own “best” looks like and that’s what you’re giving yourself permission to achieve. So, your standard is not an absolute standard; it is your standard. And when you attain it, you allow yourself to say, “I did well here” and to feel fed by your achievements. This in turn boosts your sense not just of your uniqueness but of your personal worth.
Yes, New Work Pioneers are turning the whole concept of success on its head and experiencing the wider possibilities that that affords them.
So, manifesto readers, what do you think? What am I nailing here? What’s not quite resonating? What’s missing?
How are you reframing success for yourself and with what results?
Next Friday we’ll be talking about the challenges inherent in reframing success and how to creatively confront them. To automatically get the next update, feel free to subscribe.