How Can You Start Redefining Success In Terms Of What Makes You Happy?

redefine success in terms of what makes you happy, career tips for women, #careertips, #careeradvice

This post is in partnership with Forté Foundation. Join the #ConquerYourCareer movement by helping Forté publish 5,000 pieces of advice, for women by women. Share yours using #ConquerYourCareer. All thoughts, opinions, and experiences are my own.


The best career advice I ever received was to…

“redefine success in terms of what makes you happy.”

It was like a lightbulb finally went off. I’d been on someone else’s path for years, trying to force myself into career situations that didn’t feel right, simply because someone told me that’s what I was supposed to do.

Before I jump into what this advice means to me, I want to talk a little bit about what this advice doesn’t mean:

This doesn’t mean that you can quit any job when the going gets tough.

This doesn’t mean that you re-define success every time you fall.

If we do either of those things, then we are just playing into the stereotypes of millennials, so just don’t do it.

Then what does it mean to redefine success in terms of what makes you happy?

It means taking the time for self exploration and discovery. You can do this by taking the time to watch webinars on sites like Forté Foundation, which have been designed to help women step into leadership roles and navigate their careers.

Personally I love the one on “Inside Out Discovery For Your Personal Brand,” because it explores your values, strengths, fears. Redefining success in terms of what makes you happy means having deep insights that allow you to invest in your strengths, let go of fears, and find a path that aligns with your values. That’s how our skills and self esteem can refine and grow.

It means getting intimate with yourself. It means realizing someone else’s dream for you versus your own—and being able to separate the two. It means unlearning all the limiting messages you’ve heard. You know the ones… they sound like:

You can’t do that because you’re a woman

This is meeting is for the men and will go over your head.

You’re too emotional to do this kind of work

You’re not emotional enough to connect with others in this industry

Security comes in the form of a steady paycheck every week

There aren’t enough clients out there to support you

Creative and business don’t belong in the same sentence

You have to be a b*tch to succeed or be taken seriously

Everyone is out to get you

Yeah… all of those things.

It means letting go of the aforementioned limiting beliefs, and setting our own mantras. I’ve always loved Lisa Sugar’s “Work Hard. Play Nice.” To me, this mantra means we support one another and lift each other up. It means knowing that security and money will flow freely when we reinvest in our strengths and talents and put good vibes into the world. It also means working ten times harder than the person next to you so you can have this new definition of success as a long term reality. And getting up that much stronger and wiser every time you get knocked down.

How Can You Start Redefining Success In Terms Of What Makes You Happy?

Here Are 5 Steps:

Step 1: Write out all the limiting beliefs.

Just like the list I made above. Get out a piece of paper and do a brain dump. I’ve tried to make this a regular practice over the course of my career, since these beliefs can evolve or come up at different points and hold us back. After a while, I began noticing a pattern when they would come up – like after a call with a family member questioning my career path or on the brink of a big deal. Now I can get ahead of them doing this practice before a big meeting.

Step 2: Counter the limiting beliefs

Write down a counter affirmation to each of the statements you’ve written. Make each of your affirmations a mantra that you carry with you. Personally, I like to choose one that’s my guiding mantra of the day or week. I set it as a silent alarm on my phone that pops up every hour as a subtle reminder.

Step 3: Draw strength from others

Connect with women through places like Forté Foundation, a career-centered community which has over 95,000 women, to learn their stories and how they got to where they are. You are not alone in your limiting beliefs or fears, and it can be helpful to speak with others about their experience.

If networking and one-on-one conversations seem overwhelming to you, I totally get it! I’ve been there too. I like to start off easy and check out webinars and Facebook lives like Forté’s to listen to other women’s stories and actionable advice. That way I can still benefit from their wisdom without getting consumed by anxiety of new interactions. I’ve also found it easier to reach out to people if I’ve been in the same community for a little.
Remember, we’ve all faced adversity and fear to varying degrees. By learning about others, we can feel less alone and pull strength from their strengths and experiences.

Step 4: Get clear on what boosts your self-worth

Are you an amazing problem solver? An Excellent people person? Do you love a good strategy puzzle, or are you a master of social media? Find the things that light you up; your unique skill set that inspires you. If you’re stuck on where to find this, try asking people what you’re good at, then list what you think you’re good at and see where the two overlap.

Also use this step to write down what your values are and any other information tied to your self-worth or the image of the person you want to be “when you grow up.”

Step 5: Put it all together

Look at everything from above and evaluate it. Start with your limiting beliefs and fears. How did those take you on a different path? What did you give up on in your life because the fears became to big?

Then look at what your values are and what you’re good at. All the things that fill your soul and makes you happy.

Find where the two intersect and redefine success based on that criteria.

I did this exercise out loud with my husband. I was too close to everything to see the connecting threads and figure out my next step. Having another person to sift through all this new self-awareness really helped me figure which of my strengths to integrate into my career.

What this new definition of success looks like:

When I put all of this together, it became clear that I wanted to help people. I knew that I really valued teaching, learning, and philanthropy. I knew that I wanted to define success in terms of leaving a positive impact on others on an emotional and personal development level. I knew I didn’t want to be a therapist, but that I loved giving advice.
So for me, that definition of success went from “a stable recurring paycheck that left me with more money than I knew what to do with” to “helping people grow, accept themselves, and live well rounded, purpose-driven lives” and “sharing relatable experiences and life lessons while still being able to pay my bills.” For me, success isn’t measured by the number in my bank account. Instead, it’s measured by emails, messages, and comments from you all about how much a post meant, which in turn gives me so much joy!

Explore, Learn, & Grow

Remember, most of us heard limited advice on the paths we can take in life while growing up. It’s normal to find yourself in your twenties feeling lost. Use this time to grow your network and expand your mind by joining communities like Forté Foundation, and learn about others careers in order to find the one that fulfills you.

“Redefine success in terms of what makes you happy.”Click To Tweet

success quotes, how to be successful, tips on achieving #success, career advice for #millennials

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  • Caitlin Elisabeth
    December 8, 2017 at 8:36 am

    this is SUCH a great idea!

  • TheBlondeLifestyle
    December 8, 2017 at 9:16 am

    This is something I need to be doing more often. I’m a journalism major in college and I’ve been told countless times to rethink my career because I’m never going to make any money and it’s hard to be successful in the field I want to enter. I think everyones wrong because there are so many things you can do with it and I shouldn’t be limited just because of what some people say that may not be true! Very inspiring post 🙂

  • Adriana Renee
    December 8, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Yes to all of this! I made an important life decision this week because I was so tired of people telling me I had to be at a certain place to be successful but now I feel happy!

  • Becky @ Disney in your Day
    December 8, 2017 at 10:39 am

    I love this. I’ve come to discover that the most rewarding thing for me in my job as a children’s librarian isn’t the paycheck. It’s the middle schooler that comes up to me so excited about a book I recommended, or the 8 year old who is here every day after school because her single mom works late and tells me she’s glad she can talk to me, or the toddler who needs to give me a hug every time he sees me. And I’m slowly starting to discover the same is true for blogging as well. It’s not the pageviews that make me most happy, it’s a comment that my post really helped someone, or that they love something I wrote.

  • Marette Flora @ Floradise
    December 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I like to read self-help books to help me with limiting beliefs such as the ones you mention that hold us back. It’s so important to remember success looks different for everyone and I don’t need to keep up with anyone.

  • Kristen Jones
    December 8, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Love this post, Rachel! Having a super knit and encouraging community always helps me figure out my next steps in my journey. Success will always be different for everyone, because we’re all at different places in our lives, but we should always be there for each other along the way–it’s what helps us learn and grow!

  • Bella B @ xoxoBella
    December 8, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Such a great read, I saved this post I’m gonna do this!! thanks for sharing

  • Larissa Joassaint
    December 8, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I love this! It’s definitely an eye opener for those [including myself] who have never thought to redefine our own successes. We do rely a lot on what society deems appropriate and correct for everyone’s path, but the funny thing that we don’t realize is, is that we’re all different, so our oaths should be as well. Thanks for the friendly reminder!

  • Melissa Cruz
    December 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I’m doing this! I needed to read this so bad. I was thinking about this the other day. Thanks for sharing!

  • Gold Clutter
    December 8, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    I always love looking back at all that I’ve done. It excites me to see all the successful things I’ve done and excites me for what’s to come in the future.

  • Anna Hubbard
    December 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    This is so awesome! Since I’m starting my career at the beginning of next month, I definitely want to do it in a way that makes me happy and confident! Great post!

  • Jenna Roi
    December 8, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    This is a great post! I struggled for a long time feeling successful where I was because of what other people thought – now I realize that I’ve found great success in my own way and on my own terms. I’ve never been happier!

  • Erica @ Coming up Roses
    December 9, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Acknowledging + writing out limiting beliefs has been HUGE for me on my own journey – it really helps to see it on paper and see what exactly you truly are thinking, to see how detrimental it is to where you wanna go and how “successful” you feel.

  • Tiffany Khyla
    December 9, 2017 at 11:15 am

    I love this so much! I’ve been guilty of try in to till I certain paths because of the perception of success that o her thrust upon me. I was talking to my boyfriend about this recently, actually. Our ideas of success are very different, and that’s okay as long as we can still be cheerleaders for each other. Working on being successful has been so tough for me lately because I’ve been getting caught up in the comparison game and lost trying to figure out exactly what I want to do. This post is exactly what I needed!

  • Alix Maza
    December 9, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    This is a great post! So empowering and inspiring. Thanks for posting this!

  • Patricia Eales
    December 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    What great advice – It definitely is something that everyone of any age could pay attention to!

  • Shannon
    December 9, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I love this advice so so much. So empowering and I love the way it makes success about what makes you fulfilled.. not by getting ahead of your friends or comparing yourself to others. The part about overcoming stereotypes is so important!

  • Mary Jingjing Mortos Lopez
    December 10, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Great read! A lot of wisdom words here! Success will be all worth it if you are completely happy and not sacrifice anything especially the one you love just to achieve it. I love the quote you have here “work hard, play nice”.

  • mckenna bleu
    December 11, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Love this! I couldn’t agree more. Happiness is most important.

  • Theresa Dickerson
    December 11, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Absolutley love this! Self-discovery and creavity is so important! Great post!

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew
    December 12, 2017 at 12:32 am

    These tips are awesome! Definitely taking another look at this as we head into the new year!

  • Michelle @ And Then We Tried
    December 12, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I love looking at success as not just about money, obviously money is important(gotta keep a roof over my pets’ heads after all) but its great to make that not the primary focus!

  • Cameron
    December 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Absolutely love this! It is so important to reflect and realize what you want to accomplish and achieve in your life, rather than just go along with what is expected or what someone tells you to do.

  • Carley
    December 13, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    This is something I absolutely needed to hear today. I’ve been struggling to come into my own and this post has been incredibly motivating.

  • Rachel @ STCL
    December 27, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Love this! Countering the limiting beliefs is so important for me!

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