Episode 270 Success is Personal


Explore the meaning of success and its personal nature in this reflective episode. Start your year with purpose and intention. Reimagine your definition of success.

With the dawn of the new year, Anna takes us on a reflective journey, encouraging us to ponder the question: What is success for you? Drawing on the dictionary definition of success and the poignant insights of a palliative care nurse, Anna explores the dangers of not defining our own success and the importance of setting our own destination in life. Using the analogy of sailing and treasure hunting, she discusses the significance of having a map and checkpoints, and the value of being present and in the right path. This thought-provoking episode encourages listeners to reflect on their aims and purpose, not only in their professional lives but also in their personal endeavors, prompting us to consider what our own treasure and checkpoints might look like. Join Anna as she sets the tone for a meaningful and introspective start to 2024.

00:00 Top regret: not living a true life.

05:38 Set sail with clear intention for success.

07:25 Embrace flexibility, find your guiding direction. Rest.

10:13 See you next week. Goodbye.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

1:1 Coaching & Mentoring – If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. onestepoutside.com/coaching

Personal definition of success in 2024

Happy New Year. Happy New Year. This episode is actually going out on the 1 January, so I really can wish you a very happy new year. I hope you’ve had a lovely break. And if you’re listening live, maybe you’re feeling a little worse for wear. Or if you’re like me and you probably didn’t stay up so late last night, and you’ve hopefully been for a sea swim this morning, you’re feeling bright and be and ready to head into this new year with gusto. So we’re starting this year with a whopper of a message.

It is my main message, my biggest passion, the most important message, and we’re talking about success. What is success for you? And is there a better time to ask this question than on the 1 January? I think not. And the dictionary definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose. So the question becomes, what is your aim or purpose? And you can ask this in a number of different ways. You can think about the big picture of life, your meaning, your big meaning. You can think about your definition of success for this year, for 2024, or for whenever you’re listening to it. And of course, you can just think about it in micro moments too. What’s your definition of success for today? Meaning what are the things you want to get done? How do you want to show up? What would a successful day, week, month, year, life look like for you? So, yes, it’s a pretty big question, but an important one.

And I think we just can’t ask this question often enough. Or perhaps that’s not true. Perhaps if we ask it too often, then we get lost in the semantics and the theory, and we never actually do anything. So that’s a little bit dangerous. But you do want to be asking the question more often than not, I think. And certainly, if anything, we don’t ask it enough. So what a success for you. Now, what happens if you don’t ask this question? I’ve talked before about Bronnie Ware, who was a palliative care nurse in Australia.

She wrote about the five regrets of the dying. She collected these together, having worked with many, many patients who unfortunately were nearing the end of their life. And the top regret she identified was along the lines of, I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, rather than living according to someone else’s expectations. And the truth is, most of us are following someone else’s definition of success. We’re working towards our parents goals and expectations. In some societies, more than others, perhaps our friends we’re very affected by the people we grew up with who are around us, our peers, our colleagues, society, tv, social media, or even a past version of ourselves. And we may be following that definition of success consciously or subconsciously, but the effect, the implications, are the same. We are going to end up with either failure to achieve those goals because we’re not really intrinsically motivated and so we’re not going to work towards them and so we’re not going to achieve them, or we’ll achieve all these goals we set ourselves.

But it’s not fulfilling, it’s not meaningful. And we go, eh, was this it? Why did I do all this? And of course, the truth is, it’s a simple fact, but it’s very powerful. You’re the one who’s going to have to live with it. However involved other people are in your life, some more than others. However much people care about you, ultimately, you’re the one who’s going to have to live with the consequences. You are the captain of your ship. So if you don’t have a destination in mind, where are you going to end up sailing to? You’re going to end up being swayed by the currents and the winds. You might end up on some desert island somewhere, not being able to move forwards.

You might end up just sailing and sailing with nowhere to get water, nowhere to get food. You’ll be lost to the open seas, in danger, all by yourself. It’s not a good picture, is it? So if you’re seeking a particular destination, if you’re seeking treasure, maybe if we’re going to take the metaphor to the pirate territory, then you need to have that map with a big x on it. Now, of course, real life is not quite that simple. We don’t have one big x. In the short term, perhaps there’s one particular goal you’re working towards, and then there’ll be different checkpoints along the way, perhaps working up to bigger picture. And to really complicate matters, I think, and this is my personal view on success, and yours might be different, but I think it’s actually quite simple things that make up success. And it’s not a tangible destination, unfortunately.

It is more about being, in a certain way, feeling, experiencing. It’s not having those regrets, it’s feeling that you’re present, it’s feeling that you’re on the right path, that you are exactly where you want to be, where you should be, as it were. So you’re not regretting, you’re not feeling resentful, and you can be particularly, especially very much in the flow and enjoying where you are, giving the best, fulfilling your biggest potential, and all those wonderful things. So again, the danger of not having a destination is that you’ll end up somewhere or nowhere. The other danger, of course, is if you’re following someone else’s map, you’re going to end up in the wrong place as well. You’re going to end up at some big city, and you’re landing in this big port, and it’s all this busy, exciting trade going on. But actually, you wanted to go to some beautiful, quiet island where you’re going to have more rest, and maybe you wanted to go to making up these various destinations. You wanted to go to a cold place, and you’ve ended up in a hot place, whatever it is.

Again, it’s not quite that black and white, but you can see, if you picture this in your head, if you are sailing, whether you’re a sailor or not, you can understand the intention of having that direction. There’s another quote, I think, which is something along the lines of, if you don’t know where you’re sailing to, there’s never going to be a fair wind, because you need to set the intention. You need to know where you’re going in order to then line everything up in a way that supports that goal. And you can do that if you know where you’re going. You can get the angles of the sails right, you can check the weather. You can map the best route to that destination if you have a destination. If you don’t have that destination, might as well just throw the map away, right? Apart from perhaps avoiding some shallows and whatever else, what other treacherous things? Shark infested waters and things along the way. Of course, if you really, truly, and I think this is the minority, maybe, but if you really, truly don’t care where you end up, by all means, set sail and see where it takes you.

And maybe there are moments in your life when that’s a very good strategy. Perhaps you are a little lost and you don’t really know where you want to go to. So then you can take the time to explore and experiment and just see what happens. I think that’s really exciting and useful, actually, for a period of time. But then I think it’s time to sort of regroup, assess what you’ve learned and set sail towards a more specific destination. Of course, your destination can change along the way. Maybe you discover this checkpoint along the way, this island that wasn’t actually on your map and you just come across it, or you meet another boat that tells you about something that you weren’t aware of and you find that exciting, and you go there. So that’s absolutely fine.

To be spontaneous and to adapt, to be agile, as they say, be flexible as to where you’re going along the way. But you want to have that North Star guiding you so that you’re at least heading off into the right direction. Now, of course, there is no right direction. There is no right answer as some kind of objective fact that exists outside of us. But the point is, you have a right answer, you will make it the right answer, and you need to know what that answer is for you. So again, starting the year, perhaps, with a short episode today, to give you time to go off and rest after last night, or to take some time to journal, to go for a walk, maybe have a dip in the sea, if you have the opportunity, go for a run, go for a walk, whatever it is that will rejuvenate you, make you feel good and excited about the year, at least. Pensive, reflective, perhaps at this stage. Again, I love this time, it might seem arbitrary with a calendar year, but any opportunity, I think, to check in and see how we’re feeling, how we’re doing and where we want to move forwards to, whether it’s the start of the school year or the start of the calendar year, I think is useful.

And then I have the start of the financial year for my business in a few months. Lots of checkpoints along the way. So again, let me ask you this. What does success look like for you? What is that treasure that you seek? What checkpoints are you wanting to pass along the way? What is the map that’s going to take you there? What do fair winds look like for you? What do you want to take with you on this journey? Who do you want to take with you? Lots of interesting questions if you go to the full extreme of the metaphor as well. So that’s a question for you. Today, success is really personal. So what does it mean to you? What is your aim? What is your purpose? What is the meaning that you’re bringing to today, to this week, this month, this year, perhaps, is the focus for now and certainly for the next quarter, for the next three months, whether it’s in your business, in your career, in your role, and even we’re talking personal, from a health perspective, relationships. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m all about work, life, integration and considering the different areas of your life

So these destinations and mile points and milestones and checkpoints that we’re talking about are not only professional ones, right? They’re personal as well. So really take this time to reflect. I won’t give you any specific exercise today. Just something to ponder, meditate on, journal. Wander down the road carefully on the movement, please. Or by the beach, or through nature, by the lake, whatever your surrounding environment looks like. And reflect on this question as we move into this new year. Happy 2024.

And I’ll see you next week. Bye.


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If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring.



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