The dictionary defines success as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. This definition suggests that success only stems from accomplishing one thing. Society would have us believe that that one thing is an amazing career. I believe women need to widen their definitions of success to include all of the things in life that are important to them. This will help us deal with the continuing challenges of work-life balance. An Ernst & Young survey showed that 33% of employees worldwide listed that their work-life balance was getting progressively more difficult to manage.
I am a CEO and entrepreneur, but I am also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Excelling in all of those roles is important to me. If I solely focus on building my company to be considered successful, all of the other parts of my life fall by the wayside. I don’t have time to make dinner for my husband’s birthday, call my grandma, or attend my son’s school functions because I am channeling all of my energy into my company. So despite succeeding in the role of CEO I sometimes feel like a failure in the other aspects of my life.
Does this sound familiar?
Take a step back and decide what roles fulfill you, and make you feel like you are doing a good job at life. Then include those roles in your definition of success. By broadening your definition of success you are giving yourself a new lens to view your day-to-day activities and goals. This new outlook is a way to grow towards fulfilling your own happiness and feeling like you measure up your own standards at the end of the day.
While a broad definition of success is liberating, it can also be overwhelming. It is impossible to be an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc. all at the same time. There are only so many balls we can keep in the air before we drop them all. Trying to be wonder woman will leave you feeling burnt out and more like a failure than a success.
So what is the solution to achieving your own definition of success?
Pinpointing the high value opportunities in each role you have in your definition and scheduling them is the key. Simply writing a to-do list will do more harm than good. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review stated that to-do lists set their creators up for failure and frustration. When you schedule an appointment in your calendar you have made the commitment to complete that task or event at a specific time. Scheduling also makes you realistically determine how much time an activity will take and if you have that amount of time available.
Start scheduling with a monthly overview.
Determine what is the number-one project that needs to be accomplished at work and place that deadline at the end of the month. Then work backwards and schedule the weekly time slots you will need to accomplish that work goal. Next, consider your spouse’s needs. Is there a birthday or special event that is important to celebrate or attend? Put that in your calendar along with a date night. As you look at your children’s needs, think about what is most important to them, it could be chaperoning a class field trip, attending a soccer game, or planning a special weekend activity. Again, schedule these things. Finally, determine what your personal high value opportunity is. Do you need a girl’s night or a trip to the salon? Make sure to schedule what is important for you. Having “me time” on your calendar gives you something to look forward to, and it allows you to reenergize.
If you use a different color to schedule each role’s activities in your calendar you will have a visual on your life balance. If you see too much of one color, that indicates that you either need to drop a few scheduled things for that role, or add a few more activities for your other roles. While true balance is rarely attainable, if you do your best to schedule it your life will be less polarized and you will feel more successful.
What if you have a demanding job and very little control over your working hours?
I encourage women to consider entrepreneurship as a way to regain power over the definition of success. Female entrepreneurs have more control over their job security and fulfillment than their corporate peers, which leads to higher levels of happiness. A study from the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor U.S. Report, found that women business owners ranked twice as happy as their non-entrepreneur, non-business-owner counterparts.
There will never be a perfect formula for being a successful woman. Everyone is different, as should be our definitions of success. Understanding what is important to you and incorporating those things into your own, personal definition of success, and then scheduling the events that are of highest value in each of your individual roles will lead to a happier more successful you.
How do you define success?
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- Reconsider Your Definition of Success & Then Schedule It - May 20, 2016