Ready to grow your business to the next level and wondering how to achieve success as an entrepreneur fast? What is the definition of success and how do you become successful are questions that get asked a lot. This article explains how to achieve success, how to create success as an entrepreneur, how to redefine success so that you end up happy, how to run a successful business without compromising your happiness, and how to create the life and business of your dreams.
Success: something everyone is chasing, but few have taken time to define.
Google says success is “the achievement of an aim or purpose.” Implied is the belief that if you achieve it you will be happy.
Over 6 years of working with high level CEOs, I can absolutely say that many of the world’s “successful entrepreneurs” have sacrificed happiness at the expense of success, and are entirely missing fulfillment.
Financial success affords you happiness at a surface level: a nice big home on the water for your family; a fancy boat to take your golf buddies onto; money to hire help around the house and free up time to frequent expensive restaurants.
But your financial success doesn’t solve your more important challenges: it doesn’t eliminate the bitterness you feel heading into work on Monday if your business isn’t aligned with your passion; the arguments with your spouse after yet another 80 hour week if your work isn’t balanced with your life; the disbelief that it’s been a decade since your last long vacation if you aren’t intentionally leveraging your freedom; and the emptiness you feel from a lack of deep soul friendships if your work is taking over your life.
Related post: How To Live A Happy, Value-Driven Life Of Fulfillment
So, in the pursuit of success where did things go so wrong for so many of us?
In this article, I want to explain how humans (especially high achieving, ambitious entrepreneurs) form their definition of success, why it often leaves them dissatisfied when they achieve it, and what you need to redefine success and create a life you truly love while running a thriving business.
After all, you didn’t sacrifice years of your life on the roller coaster of entrepreneurship just to wonder whether there’s more to life than this…
For those of you that are new to my work, I’m Ana McRae, a business strategist and success coach for high level CEOs who want more freedom, fulfillment, and financial abundance. I help ambitious entrepreneurs lead thriving businesses and live fulfilling lives through 1:1 coaching. To learn more about how I can help you achieve more in life and business, book a time to chat with me.
Where does our perception of how to achieve success come from?
Our personal definitions of success are often inherited from the people we look up to over the course of our lives.
Our parents, our role models, and our communities inform much of the way we perceive the world and our role in it. For better or for worse, we adopt their ways of looking at and thinking about the world, and (consciously or unconsciously) build lives that are eerily similar to those whom we surround ourselves with (hence why the 5 people you spend the most time with matter so much).
Little girls raised on small town farms might see success as being barefoot and pregnant stay at home moms to big families. Little boys brought up in affluent neighborhoods might see success as the scaling of a multi-million dollar business. These are, of course, sweeping generalizations, but the analogy still stands.
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My client R had spent 10 years building a multi-million dollar business aspiring to achieve his father’s perception of financial success only to become deeply unhappy.
My client A had spent 8 years in leadership, securing promotion after promotion, only to change careers completely because she was miserable.
My client J spent her entire career leading dozens of thriving businesses, then giving it all up because it wasn’t how she wanted to spend her days.
Here’s the problem:
When you’re brought up in a family that values X above all else, you build your life to make sure you achieve X. But at the end of the day, you’ve created a life you thought you should want, not one that is actually aligned with your own personal values.
A behind the scenes look at my story trying to achieve success
My parents and grandparents grew up in Ukraine during the Cold War – a time of great political unrest and widespread famine. I was born a mere 3 years after it ended, and we moved to Canada 2 years later, with nothing but ‘a backpack and $1,000 to our name’. Growing up as a first generation immigrant under parents who had lived through hard times created deeply ingrained values of unwavering financial security driven by outstanding academic success. The expectation was to get perfect grades, get a high paying job, and stay there until you retire.
But somewhere in my adult life I realized those values weren’t mine.
I got perfect grades: I graduated university at the top of my class with a 4.2 GPA in 3 years instead of 4 while raising an infant. I got a high paying corporate job and promotion after promotion. I had the house with the white picket fence, the husband, the two kids, and the dog – all before the age of 23.
And I was miserable. I was working 60 hour weeks, with 3 hour commutes, and two little kiddos growing up at daycare.
I had achieved “success” and it left me wanting.
Related post: Are You Working On The Right Goals?
It took years of unlearning what I thought to be true about how to achieve success before I discovered what I actually wanted out life.
It turns out, my values went beyond financial security. I wanted:
- Time with my kids: more than 30 minutes in the evenings
- Freedom to travel: beyond the 2 week vacation
- Genuine impact: work that made the world a better place
- Financial abundance: without pay bands and glass ceilings
To me, success wasn’t a fancy title, a corner office, or a million dollar home.
Success (redefined) became the ability to make money doing work I love and spending ample quality time travelling & making memories with my family. That’s it.
And this is exactly why you’ll find me
- writing this article from the beach on a Tuesday morning
- taking a 90 min hike in the woods with my dog every single day
- working 15-20 hours a week (max) and spending the rest of the time living my life
- travelling across the country in the skoolie we converted ourselves
- mountain biking, kayaking, snowboarding, hiking, dancing, crocheting, playing piano, and laughing instead of checking my phone, working after dinner, or going to “the office” on the weekends
These are the conversations we need to be having more of in high level circles when it comes to achieving success.
Success beyond financial compensation.
Wealth, not as the be all end all, but as part of the bigger picture: supporting a life you actually love to live.
Because guess what? I wake up every single day freaking excited about the way I get to spend it. And that wasn’t the case when I was living my life in alignment with somebody else’s definition of success.
Because I am fulfilled by my work and have built a business that aligns with the lifestyle I want, I have a thriving business and financial abundance (not the other way around).
This is why I am so passionate about the work I do.
You don’t have to sacrifice your happiness to achieve “success.” You can have your cake, and eat it too, when you get clear on what your vision for your life really is (and redefine “success” for yourself), take action in alignment with your vision (by getting out of your own way and tackling the mindset keeping you stuck), and invest in the support to hold you accountable to your full potential.
This is the work I do with my high level coaching clients: wildly ‘successful’ entrepreneurs who find themselves yearning for something more. We redefine success and intentionally design lives and businesses that fulfill them long term. And the irony is that through this process, they actually quantum leap their financial success by focusing on something else altogether.
Related post: How to Build a Business and Life You Love
S went from working 50 hours a week, unable to step away from her business, struggling in her relationship, and not having any fun, to working 15 hours a week, leading a self sufficient team, and spending her days adventuring/travelling, launching a new business idea, while in a thriving relationship.
A went from running a successful business by burning the candle at both ends, sacrificing his physical & mental health, and never taking a day off, to running an even more successful business working less than he ever has, blowing his revenue goals out of the water, stepping into his leadership, expanding his team, taking multiple days off each week and weeks off each quarter, and reigniting the passion he feels for the business he runs.
A came to me when 10 years of leadership left her burnt out, overwhelmed, and deeply unhappy. Now she is travelling to places that have been on her bucket list forever, doing work she used to only dream of, building businesses she never thought she had the capacity to run, and spending her days in alignment with her values (long runs, visiting friends, reading books, and playing guitar).
What’s the common thread?
A point where each and every one of these ambitious individuals realized they deserved a thriving business AND a fulfilling life, and refused to settle for the circumstances they found themselves in right now.
The narrative around success is shifting. Gone are the days when a competitive salary or a profitable business were enough to keep us content. Especially as we navigate the effects of the pandemic, you may be starting to realize that you’ve been sacrificing parts of life that really matter to you for years… decades, even… all in pursuit of some arbitrary definition of success instilled by your parents and reinforced by society.
So, what do you do if you find yourself less than thrilled with the life you’re living or the business you’re running? How do you figure out how to achieve success that leaves you feeling fulfilled?
Related post: How To Feel More Fulfilled In Life & Business
How to redefine success for yourself (reflection questions)
Take some time to reflect on the following questions in order to achieve success and feel more fulfilled in life and business:
- What is my current definition of success that I have operated from up until this point? Success is…
- Where did this definition come from? In what ways is it being reinforced?
- What is the benefit of operating from this definition? What is it costing me?
- How does this definition align with what I actually value? In what ways is it not aligned?
- What is the relationship between success and fulfillment? Is there an element of success that goes beyond financial compensation? What if financial success and fulfillment can in fact coexist? What if my success actually depends on my fulfillment?
- Knowing what I know now through my lived experience thus far, how do I want to define success? What do I want to believe about success (even if it might not feel true quite yet)?
Related post: How To Recommit To Your Goals
Get intentional about defining success for yourself. Disregard societal expectations and parental beliefs. Give yourself permission to discover what truly matters to you. And then build your life in alignment with that.
How coaching helps you achieve success
Your next level self comes as a result of approaching the way you think and make decisions differently.
What got you to this level of success is often the very thing holding you back from your next level.
But your thoughts and beliefs are so ingrained in you that you have a hard time separating them from facts. Having a coach allows you the benefit of an unbiased perspective from someone whose only role is to support you in achieving your biggest goals in life and business – whatever those are for you.
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If you’re ready to achieve success and create a life and business with more freedom, fulfillment, and financial abundance, let’s explore how I can support you with stepping into your full potential. Book a connection call and let’s have a casual conversation about where you are, where you want to go, and how I can support you with getting there.