Wouldn’t it be fun to be an eccentric billionaire?
Riding your unicorn, the wind in your yacht, giving away tons of money for the powers of good (and maybe spending some of it on yourself?).
It could also be fun to be so successful that you have no major money or house worries, and every day you wake up to a job you love.
Either way, success smells good, doesn’t it? But how do you get there?
You can read the interwebs and find all sorts of interesting information on what successful people do in the morning, or how they structure their day, or even—wink—the questions that they ask themselves.
Why the focus on questions? Well, there are many schools of thought on this but if I can borrow from Appreciative Inquiry, one of the reasons that questions are so important is because “words create worlds.”
What that means is that the questions you choose to ask yourself have a direct impact on the world you create for yourself.
For instance: Hating your job and spending most of your time asking: “Ugh, how did I get here?” can lead to one type of action. A type that probably involves your couch, wine, and some potato chips.
Or, you could ask instead: “What interesting job should I pursue next?” That question might create some brainstorming, good feelings, and—gasp—forward momentum. You see where I’m going with this!
So, what if we could change your career trajectory and make you more successful just by changing your questions? Interesting, right?
Ready? Let’s do it!
1. What Does Success Mean to Just Me (and No One Else)?
You know the worst game in the world? Comparing yourself to others (and then immediately feeling bad).
Sometimes this game is called the “Facebook News Feed.”
For many people, the knee-jerk reaction to this question is “money” or “position” or something related to money or position.
But think deeper—what does success truly mean to you?
I played the “more money, more promotions” type of success card when I was a consultant, and it didn’t make me happy.
I then played the “I need to be as successful as all of these other major players in my business” card when I became a career coach, and that also did not make me happy. What made me happy and much (much!) more successful in my coaching was to ignore everyone else and define it on my own terms. Ironically, of course, doing this lead to more money and a better position.
Here’s what’s important: You are unique, wonderful, and special. What makes you happy and proud is different from what makes me happy and proud.
So before we go any further, let’s start with that: What does success mean to you—and no one else?
2. What’s One Small Thing I Can Do to Get Closer to This Definition of Success, Today?
You know what sucks? Running a marathon.
Seriously, running for hours on end at the crack of dawn? That seems like the least amount of fun you can have standing up.
But running a mile? Or two? And slowly easing into things? Now that sounds interesting. I could do that.
You see where I’m going with this example. Sure, you can say “I’m totally going to find my passion and change careers this week, yes!” and then immediately start to feel overwhelmed and lost.
Or, you could say, “I want to find a job that fills me with excitement and energy. I’m going to set aside an hour each week to do some research, read some books, and talk to people. I’m not going to worry about getting to passion this second, I’m just going to focus on making progress.”
I think it’s so much easier to be happy when you see progress—and when you see progress, you are usually inclined to keep going, leading to more success.
It’s like a circle of awesome.
So let’s focus on you: What’s one small thing you can do to get closer to this definition of success?
3. What Would the Best Version of Me Do in This Situation?
We’ve all been in situations that are no fun. A bad boss, not getting promoted, not getting the interview or the job, or just feeling like a gigantic pile of failure.
Sometimes, all you want to do is give up, hide, or scream in the bathroom.
You aren’t alone.
But doing that doesn’t make you happy, and it certainly doesn’t make you successful.
So, the next time you find yourself struggling with a person or situation, or paralyzed by your own career fears, take a deep breath and ask yourself: “What would the best version of me do in this situation? Seriously?”
And then do that.
Why? Because you are pretty smart—sometimes all you need is a reminder.
4. What Was the Good That Happened Today?
I’m not going to quote all of the science behind gratitude at you because I’m sure you’ve heard about it.
Instead I’ll quote this from Richard Branson: “Right now I’m just delighted to be alive and to have had a nice long bath.”
Taking time to appreciate the small wins, the little pleasures, and the progress you’ve made is important.
Ben Franklin used to ask himself “What good have I done today?”—which is another form of the question that I really like. But either way, take a moment to enjoy what you are creating and accomplishing and doing in your life!
Nothing breeds more success than remembering your success!
Yes, these are big (big!) questions and they’re a whole lot easier to skim, than to actually answer. But I can promise you that if you truly take the time to think about your response, you will end up happy and successful.
This article first appeared in The Muse