For the longest time, success to me was always about reaching The Goals. I believed that if I don’t reach my goals, I’m not successful. The end.

But lately, I’ve been having a different viewpoint. I’ve been listening to this old online entrepreneurship podcast from 2020 called Ditch the Hustle. I really like how the lovely hostesses of this podcast mention how success doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship with your goals. Real success is more centered around your values and not accomplishments.

Going along with that, not too long ago I was working on a creative project that was really frustrating. I wanted things to go a certain way and was almost obsessed with getting a specific result. The pressure I was putting on myself was stressing me out.

In the midst of all of that, I came across this quote from Maya Angelou that changed everything for me.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

  • Maya Angelou

(This quote inspired me so much that I also created an audio note about it. Click here to listen)

This quote opened my awareness to the fact that success is about feeling good about who you are right now and what you’re doing.

Overthinking your goals creates stress

When you’re chasing solely after goal oriented success, it often slips through your fingers. Your life in general could be going well, but if you don’t reach that one goal, you’re suddenly not “successful” anymore. This is how the typical view of success feels.

This shift in understanding helped me to see that even if I’m not reaching my goals in the ways I think I should, I can still consider myself as successful.

As an overthinker and perfectionist, this mindset takes off a lot of pressure. Sometimes you just cannot reach a goal or things aren’t going to work out for you. But even still, that doesn’t make you a complete failure.

This concept is also a reminder that it’s okay to take a break from having specific goals and focus on the things that make you feel successful regardless– and that feeling of success is centered around your values, not around societal expectations, what you think people expect of you, or making a certain amount of money or something else. It’s all about living up to what you believe in and loving that.

Someone who values freedom may decide to live a nomadic lifestyle. To them, reaching that is success because it matches what they value, and that’s what freedom means to them. But someone else may not value that kind of freedom. Maybe they value having a sense of community and to them, that is success. So maybe they decide to take action to bring that kind of experience into their life. The worth of what you do isn’t all focusing on dry and hard metrics, numbers, results and checking completed goals off the list. What really matters is what you care about, and values are always something that you can bring into your life, regardless of what happens or how circumstances change.

I’ve decided that currently, my top four values are curiosity, joy, compassion, and wisdom.

I want to regularly ask myself:

Am I learning from this? Am I gaining wisdom?

Am I working from a place of curiosity and openness?

Am I showing compassion towards myself?

Am I trying to show compassion towards those I meet?

Do I encourage others to be more compassionate with the way they approach their life?

Also I think like a lot of people, when I focus on reaching a certain number to feel successful, I’m not sure of the real meaning of it. Focusing on my values always keeps my real intentions in view, and that’s the kind of success I want to have.