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Productivity / Measuring success

Redefining success – solo style

Traditional measures of success are giving way to new notions of what it means to 'make it' in life. From realistic to holistic, success is whatever you want it to be.

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The good news is as a soloist, you’re likely to be well on your way.

For me, and I suspect for many micro business owners, being able to spend the majority of my waking hours doing something I love is a big part of what it means to be successful. Add to that having enough money to indulge on occasion, to feel challenged and thrilled creatively, to maintain quality relationships, to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, and having a balance between work and reward – and that’s my version of success in a nutshell.

So, am I ‘there’ yet?

Certainly… well, I would be if success were stationary. But it’s not. It keeps evolving. For me, success is always in the offing and while I ‘attain’ it every time I sit back and appreciate what I’ve got right now, at that same moment I need to set my sights on other goals.

But the reason I think I can feel successful – momentarily but regularly – without having won awards or without being rich or famous is because my definition is realistic. My ‘success’ is still challenging, but it’s grounded. As psychologist Barry Schwartz said in his TED talk The Paradox of Choice, “The secret to happiness is realistic, modest expectations.” I still dream big, but I don’t judge my success against those dreams.

"I still dream big, but I don’t judge my success against those dreams. "

Want more articles like this? Check out the measuring success section.

Another good framework for holistic success is positive psychology founder Martin Seligman’s model for happiness, known as PERMA. In his book Flourish, Seligman posed that humans experience their greatest sense of wellbeing when they have:

  • Positive emotion (feelings of pleasure and happiness)
  • Engagement (or flow: absorption in an enjoyable yet challenging activity)
  • Relationships (making social connections)
  • Meaning (focusing on something greater than ourselves)
  • Accomplishments (achieving goals)

Interestingly, going solo has been a key stepping-stone for me towards feeling more satisfaction with each of these points. Soloism has been a precursor for success. Is it the same for you?

How do you define success? Are you ‘there’ yet?

Jodie McLeod

is a freelance copywriter, editor and journalist, and former Editor of Flying Solo. If you're after an intelligent crafter of catchy copy who has loads of experience with words, ads and ideas, get in touch.

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