Success: There’s No Instruction Manual!

Do you often wonder what success really means? Is it all about materialistic possessions like a high-paying job, a luxurious house, and a fancy car? Or is it something more significant, like finding meaning and purpose in your life? If you are one of those people who believe that success goes beyond material possessions, then dial in! According to J. Douglas Holladay, the author of “Rethinking Success: Eight Essential Practices for Finding Meaning in Work and Life,” success is not something that comes with an instruction manual, and too often, many successful people end up feeling empty and depressed because they lose sight of what’s truly important in their lives. At Rudder4Life, we believe that true success lies in serving a purpose greater than yourself.

The author suggests that in order to live a fulfilling life, there are three important things that we need to have. Firstly, we need to have a clear purpose or goal that gives us a sense of direction and helps us understand the world around us. Secondly, we need to feel like we are part of something bigger than just ourselves, whether it be a community, a cause, or a belief system. Finally, we need to maintain strong relationships with other people, as humans are social animals and thrive on connection and interaction with others. So, if you’re ready to find meaning in your work and life, let’s explore Holladay’s eight essential practices together:

  • Pay Attention to Your Narrative: It is the story we tell ourselves about who we are, what we value, and what we want in life. It’s essential to pay attention to our narrative because it shapes our identity, our goals, and our relationships. So, take time to reflect on your values, your strengths, and your passions. Ask yourself, “What makes me tick?” “What am I passionate about?” “What kind of person do I want to be?” So, why not try to keep a journal or a gratitude log where you write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences? Reflect on your day and identify what went well and what you could improve.
  • Sustain Authentic Relationships: Authentic relationships are the foundation of a successful life. It’s essential to make time for the people who matter most to you, whether it’s your family, friends, or colleagues. To sustain authentic relationships, be present, listen actively, and show empathy. Consider scheduling regular check-ins with your loved ones to make time for meaningful conversations, even if it’s just a quick phone call or a text message.
  • Make Appreciation Part of Your Life: Appreciation is the practice of recognising and expressing gratitude for the people and things in our lives. It’s a simple yet powerful way to cultivate positivity and happiness. To make appreciation part of your life, express gratitude regularly, whether it’s through a thank-you note, a kind word, or a small gift. Maybe keep a gratitude jar where you write down something you’re grateful for each day. At the end of the year, read through the notes and reflect on the blessings in your life.
  • Bear No Malice and Seek to Lend a Hand: Holding onto grudges and resentment can be toxic to our mental and emotional health. Bear no malice, practice forgiveness and let go of past hurts. Lend a hand by offering support and kindness to others, even if it’s just a listening ear. If someone has wronged you, try to understand their perspective and forgive them. Offer to help a neighbour with their groceries or a friend with a project.
  • Understand How You Characterise Success and Failure: Our definition of success and failure defines our behaviour and our self-worth. To understand how you characterise success and failure, reflect on your beliefs and values. Ask yourself, “What does success mean to me?” “What does failure mean to me?” “How do I define success and failure in my life?” So, set achievable goals that align with your values and priorities. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and learn from your failures without judgment.
  • Accept Risk as an Essential Part of Your Life: It’s essential to accept it as a means of personal growth and development. To accept risk, step out of your comfort zone, try new things, and take calculated risks. Consider taking a dance class, learning a new language, or volunteering for a cause you care about. Take calculated risks in your career, such as starting your own business or taking on a new project.
  • Live an Integrated Life: It means bringing your whole self to everything you do and avoiding compartmentalising your life. To live an integrated life, align your actions with your values, and be authentic in all aspects of your life. So, be honest and transparent with your colleagues, friends, and family. Practice mindfulness and self-care to maintain your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
  • Determine Your Legacy: It is the impact we want to have on the world, and it’s essential to determine what that means for us. To determine your legacy, reflect on your values, your strengths, and your passions. Ask yourself, “What do I want to be remembered for?” “What kind of impact do I want to have on the world?” Maybe volunteer for a cause you care about, mentor a young person or create something that inspires others.

Success is not a fixed destination that we reach one day. Rather, it’s a continuous journey of self-discovery and personal growth. To lead a fulfilling and purposeful life, we must redefine our understanding of success and make conscious efforts to align our actions with our values and priorities. By adopting the practices “Rethinking Success” suggest, such as sustaining authentic relationships, making appreciation a part of our lives, and understanding how we characterise success and failure, we can create a life that’s worth living. As widely attributed to Cayla Kluver:  “Success is not about the possessions we amass, but about the character we build and the contributions we make to the world. True success lies in how we treat others and the impact we have on those around us”. So, let’s rethink success and strive for a meaningful and purposeful life. A Very Good Read!

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