Are you unknowingly chasing someone else’s dreams?


What does it mean to be successful? With mainstream ways of working increasingly under scrutiny, ‘define your own success’ is fast becoming the mantra of career liberation.

There is a vast and growing group of people who are resisting the status quo and instead creating lives on their own terms, founded on values that stretch beyond status, power or possessions.

What does this mean for you?

Defining your own success is an invitation to break free from any external pressures that lure you down paths that may not align with what you really want in your heart and soul.

This is about getting out of autopilot and instead becoming super conscious about WHY you desire what you desire, and choose what you choose.

External pressures come in so many different shapes and forms. They can be extremely subtle or overtly controlling. They can be unspoken, but deeply felt norms and expectations and also spoken explicit advice, opinions or guidelines about how we ought to behave and make choices.

These expectations often come from individual people such as family, friends, partners and career advisors as well as institutions such as schools, universities, religious communities and workplaces… basically any person, group, environment or system that has had a role in our upbringing or the forming of our beliefs and world views.

The definition of success is often something we inherit

Who or what has shaped your way of thinking and being? Take a moment to reflect or even write down your thoughts. Consider how these influences may have formed your current definition of success. You can do this in the following way: 

  1. Make a list of the people, communities, environments and institutions that you have grown up, lived, worked with or been significantly influenced by.

  2. Review your list… consider all the messages (through words, behaviour or unspoken expectations) that each have expressed about what success is and isn’t.

  3. Which ones do you agree with? Which do not match with your values? Which have you been following (consciously or unconsciously) through your own behaviour?

Seeing things written down is a powerful wake-up call, especially when related to the messages and beliefs we may be unconsciously absorbing. Even for those of us who identify as being self-aware, spiritual and/or personal development advocates, social conditioning is a deeply influential force that goes way below the surface of much of our conscious thinking. 


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It’s never too late to choose again

Looking over everything you’ve written down, what are the main narratives that you’ve absorbed throughout your life? The big question here is: are you happy with the story?

Are these narratives about success truly aligned with how you really view the world, what you really want or the beliefs you wish to uphold?

If the answer is YES, take a moment to consider what changes would bring you even closer to the life and career you desire. If the answer is NO, which narratives do you wish to completely erase? Which do you wish to tweak? And crucially: what do you want instead?

Wherever you stand on this, creating your own list or statement about what success means to YOU in your life, career and relationships is a vital step towards bringing everything back to the personal… which is where these kinds of values really belong.

Let me know which stories you’ve uncovered that you are no longer taking forward. Share below in the comments box or feel free to send me a private note here – I always love to hear from you.

In my next blog post, I’ll be sharing how you can create a liberating foundation or blueprint that determines HOW you go about getting WHAT you desire.

Heidi HauerComment