Back to News

Criterion For Success: How Our Ideals Can Lead Us Into The Career of Our Dreams by LJA

December 17, 2015

2016 is just around the corner - it’s a time for fresh starts and for re-analyzing our goals and motivations for what we choose to do with our time and our lives (or so they say). Looking ahead at 2016 can be tough to wrap our heads around when we just got settled into 2015. I just find it hard believe that 2015 is gone already: I just had a baby and all of a sudden he’s walking and giving me sass!

No matter what has happened in 2015, 2016 begs the question, “What’s next in my career?” Am I going to keep doing what I’m doing to keep creating more of the same? Or, am I going to switch things up and experience new ideals and situations? It’s totally up to us.

I have a lot of coaching clients right now who are asking themselves just that. Funnily enough, I’ve even had a few who have said to me, “I want things to be totally different… but I don’t care to change what I’m doing.” We have to take a minute to work through that train of thought - but, hey, it happens to the best of us. If change is inevitable, then can’t it just happen for me - preferably not to me, when it’s “bad” stuff? It all depends on our mindset and what direction we’ve got it pointed in.

Likening this concept with the compass metaphor, take a moment to set your inner compass into the direction of your dreams. What are they? What do they look like? Can you be specific? Can you dream up your goals with your imagination? Most of you can quite easily. We all have the capacity to imagine how things can be different in our careers. Feeling good about them now, on the other hand, now that takes some work.

My clients don’t need any help with imagining how things can be different. They have goals and dreams and they know they want them. That’s why they’ve hired me. The issue is, they don’t have a strong handle on the criterion for their success. Criterion, that’s a five dollar word, Leslie - what are you talking about!? I’m talking about how will you measure your success and know when things will be different? A client said to me the other day, “I don’t know specifically. They’ll just be different!” It was an honest response. I loved her for it, but there had to be a better way to know that we’re achieving our professional dreams in the here and now.

What is the standard by which we’ll measure our choices and their outcomes? I asked a different client What is the criterion of success for you? How do you know that you’re feeling professionally successful? She said to me, “I’m making things with my hands, I’m connecting with people, I’m being resourceful, and being creative.”

I took her back to an original thought she had about being upset for not being included in a project, but chose, instead, to engage in a volunteer effort. I then asked her, “Are you meeting all of these things with this project you’re doing now?”

“Oh yes!” her eyes lit up.

“Well then, could it be safe to say that there are a million other ways to consistently experience these things that could make you feel happy?” I asked her.

“Of course!” she responded, fully understanding that it wasn’t about having a specific job that would make her feel fulfilled, it was, instead, consistently fulfilling these personal criterion of success that would. She realized by the end of the session that it didn’t matter what her career situation looked like as long as she judged her own success by the ideals she set up for herself and used them to keep her emotions in check.

It all goes back to the question, “How will you know?”

Sure, maybe we’ll just intuitively know - I’m happy, yay! Sometimes, we don’t even realize a good thing until it’s gone - like 2015. Take my personal situation for example:

My husband, Franck, asked me last night about all of the personal and professional challenges that occurred in 2015 and it wasn’t until I actually listed out everything that I experienced that I realized that I have everything I want: the loving marriage, the healthy kids, the peaceful home by the beach, the fulfilling career, and the sweet car. In this realization, I said, “I’m 30 years old and have accomplished everything I set out to do and be when I was a kid. Everything else from here on out is the cherry on the cake!” I almost couldn’t believe how good I felt about having acknowledged my success despite the ups and downs and much uncertainty of the past. Just as I was coaching my clients all about recognizing their criterion for success, I realized that I needed reminding of this concept, too!

So, when looking towards 2016, think about your own criterion for success. How will you know - even when things get dark and heavy - that you’re on the right path? Those few little inspiring beams of light will help you navigate your way like a North Star on the darkest, coldest of winter nights that will give you the confidence, peace, and security you need to keep going?

Who knows what can happen in 2016? Even those psychic among us can’t even tell for sure. With that said, rely on what makes you feel safe, grounded, and true to tell you what’s the best direction to go in. It’ll remind you what you’re going after, even if sometimes you can’t see it.

Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask Ourselves:

1.    What is my criterion for success? What are the top 3 to 5 ways I’ll know that I’m on the right path and will assure that I feel assured that I’m doing the right thing?

2.    Having listed them, can I experience these criterion in a million other ways in the event that I don’t get exactly what I want in 2016?

3.    Looking back at 2015, do I now realize by what ideals/criterion I handled myself? What were they if they are different than what they are now?

4.    Can I name the times in which I successfully and consistently met my criterion? What was the situation like? Were things exactly as I wanted them to be? Did I experience happiness anyway?

5.    Am I willing hold my career choices up to the yardstick of success that I have decided for myself from time to time in order to re-evaluate my commitment to my criterion for success?

6.    In what ways do my criterion for success reflect my personal values? What are my personal values?

7.    Even if I don’t know what I specifically want out of my career, do I feel comfortable doing anything as long as I meet my personal criterion for success?