When you’re not where you thought you’d be in life, part 3

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When you’re not where you thought you’d be in life, part 3

when you're not where you thought you'd be in lifeSo far, we’ve examined two of the five questions every person needs to ask herself when she’s not where she thought she’d be in life.

First, we delved into the hot topic of comparisons and stressed the importance of asking “am I comparing myself to others?” Sometimes, we become depressed by our current status in life because we obsess too much over what others have and what we in turn lack.

An aspiring singer, for example, can’t consume herself with the nonstop success of a multi-Grammy winner who sells out every tour, is featured in numerous collaborations, and has her own clothing line…particularly if that aspiring singer is only going to use it as a measuring tape against her own achievements. Every professional was an amateur at some point. You can’t compare your starting line with someone else’s finish line.

Second, we talked about the importance of clarity and asking, “am I clear on what I want?” More specifically, what are the underlying feelings that you want to experience?

Let’s say a woman drops a few thousand on a getaway. She doesn’t know why—she just recognizes that her spirit yearns for it. With some meditation and soul searching, she might’ve been able to recognize that it wasn’t necessarily a trip she wanted; she simply wanted to leave behind the noise of the workplace, the city, and her technology in order to find some peace and quiet.

Had she gotten clear on what she was actually craving from the beginning, she could’ve simply made adjustments in her daily routine to start experiencing that peace immediately (taking nature walks, shutting her phone on the weekends, etc). This doesn’t mean the getaway was a bad idea or that she’s even wrong for pursuing it. But many times, we may opt for an alternate path when we give ourselves a chance to self-reflect.

There’s a third question that must come up at some point just as well when charting our future: how will I know that I’ve succeeded?

If you’re not where you thought you’d be in life, it might be because you never set appropriate measures of success from the onset.

Let me give you an example from my personal life. One of my biggest passions is creative writing. I’ve been writing stories ever since I was six years old. Ultimately, I’d like to be a bestselling author. Once I’m aware of this goal, I then need to define success. I need to decide when I will know that I’ve succeeded.

Will it be when I’m an Amazon Bestseller? When I’m a USA Today Bestseller? When I’m an L.A. Times Bestseller?  When I’m a New York Times Bestseller? Or will I only consider myself successful once my book’s been featured in Oprah’s book club, or when I’ve won a prestigious literary award, or when I’ve been invited to speak at writing conferences, or when my book has been adapted into a movie starring A-list celebrities?

The possibilities for defining success are virtually without end. And again, there’s no wrong or right answer. One writer may feel satisfied simply seeing their books downloaded for free by family and friends. On the other end of the spectrum, another writer may not feel successful until she’s signed a six-figure contract with a major publisher.

Whatever success means to you, it’s important to define it from the get-go. Otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied with what you achieve. You’ll run yourself ragged pursuing accolade after accolade because your self-conscious doesn’t know when to stop; it can’t process a ‘job well done’ because you never defined the expectations of what a job well done meant.

You must begin with the end in mind. Even if it’s hazy and even if the edges are somewhat blurred, you must have some concept of what your finish line is going to look like. Not only will this give you something to work toward and continually strive for, but it will make your accomplishment feel that much more real and exciting once you get there.

And defining success can go for anything. If you want to be more spiritual, you can ask yourself ‘how will I know when I’ve achieved more spirituality?’ Will it be when you’ve developed the practice of meditating for 10 minutes every morning? Will it be when you’ve successfully refrained from speaking negatively about others? Will it be when you feel your mind has reached a calmer and more positive state?

It can go for learning a new subject. ‘How will I know when I’ve succeeded in mastering this subject?’ Will it be when I can interpret my world with this new information? Will it be when I can teach the information to another individual?

Now that you’re becoming clearer on what you want from life per last week’s blog, dive into some self-reflection where it concerns your finish line. How will you know when you’ve succeeded? What will success look like for you? How do you see yourself when it comes to being successful? Spend ample time asking yourself these questions and journaling about the answers. Getting clear on this question is a step in the right direction when it comes to achieving your goals and getting to where you want to be in life.

Share your insights in the comments below! And don’t forget to share this article with a friend!

2 Comments so far:

  1. Esha says:


    This was an amazing read- seriously!! I can actually FEEL just HOW MUCH defining the make-up of my success is going to look like for me. From time to time, I too go on endlessly pursuing something, without even an inkling of where I am headed. Thank you so very much for getting me back on my feet and reminding me of this important factor. Satisfaction just can’t land on my lap out of nowhere 😉 I have to know what it looks like for me. I get it now!

    Your 5 question series is going great. I am loving the articles and all the questions you are posing. Serious wake up calls.

    Lots of love and sunshine
    Best wishes 😀

  2. Lily says:

    Esha, I’m so glad! Isn’t it rewarding to have more clarity when it comes to charting out goals? It’s so important to be able to define what success means to us personally and also what it will look like once we achieve it. I’m so happy that you’re loving the articles. Be blessed on your journey!

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