Are you old enough to remember when Congress was trying to define PORNOGRAPHY and was having tough time doing it? At one point an official said, “I’ll know it when I see it.”
Sadly, most people take the same approach to defining success…
When you fail to define the specific evidence of your success, it’s practically impossible to ever get there. It’s too easy to get pulled off track. And even if you do make steps toward success, you don’t recognize it, and wind up feeling exhausted, defeated, and burned out. You may think you’ll know success when you see it. Trust me, unless you already know what success looks like, you will never see it.
Here is an exercise for you: Most government employees say that they would like to enjoy more work/life balance. So for the sake of experimenting, let’s say your goal is to achieve work/life balance.
How will you know when you have achieved that? What will be the evidence? What will you see, hear, touch or experience to know you are fully successful at work/life balance?
Guess what? That’s going to be different for everybody. For one person, balance might be going one entire soccer season attending every game her daughter is in. For someone else it might be his wife commenting, “You seem so relaxed now.”
There are some things I want you to notice about these examples.
- They are concrete and sensory based. Attending EVERY game for one season; HEARING his wife make a specific comment.
- The evidence may or may not be something you have direct control over. Remember, this is evidence of success not the cause of it.
- Notice the evidence is not the same as a goal. This is not something you strive for. Rather it is the natural consequence of being successful; the embodiment of that vision you set.
So how do you create your evidence of success?
The process of creating your evidence of success is actually very simple. With your attention squarely on what matters most to you, ask yourself, “How will I know when I have that exactly the way I want it?”
Then write it down, and check it off when it happens.
Here’s the secret: If you are unable to write it down, or unable to check it off when it happens, your evidence is not yet sufficiently clear. Continue to ask yourself, “How will I know when I have that (what matters most) exactly the way I want it?” until it becomes clear.
Remember, that every area of your life can have its own Evidence of Success. This is a personal definition so don’t get roped into thinking that you need to assimilate, adopt, or borrow someone else’s definition of success. What matters is that you have identified what areas of your life are the most important and defined your Evidence of Success for those areas.