Dear Friends,

I was thrilled to appear on CBS This Morning  April 30th to talk about middlescence. After the interview—my first on national television–I received dozens of messages expressing sentiments like this:

‘I want to make sure that I’m not spinning my wheels. I want to feel successful and I’m not always sure what that means or if that’s possible…’

So how do you measure success? Are you choosing the right yardstick?

Success is something we all strive to achieve without necessarily knowing how we’ll measure it.  Far too many people automatically define success in financial terms and are left feeling unfulfilled and surprisingly unhappy.

Don’t get me wrong–having financial means is essential to meet core needs and makes life easier and better. It’s essential to have realistic financial resources to fund the lifestyle that best fits your particular requirements. But too many of us use dollars amassed or the collection of  ‘shiny objects’ as the yardstick by which we measure our success.

That thinking robs you of enjoying your own happiness. Why? Because the most accurate measure of your success is reflected in your sense of fulfillment, your ability to love and be loved and the impact you have at home, in your community, and at work.

Success has everything to do with aligning your actions with what you say is important to you. And it is way more important than whether you have the hottest, new “thing.”

Have you ever taken the time to write a succinct list of the values that drive your behaviors? Your daily choices won’t be reactive or unconscious if they flow from the core things you find value-able.

Values then become vital to your virtual success yardstick. And they are best discovered by thoughtfully re-visiting the story of your life. (Steve Jobs shared some of this in his exceptional 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. We’ve highlighted it as our video of the month, so take a look at the link on the right.)

Lately, I have been asking myself what yardstick I’m using to measure success. It turns out I have a few different yardsticks: My home yardstick has to do with being fully present and making time for the sweet things in life: working with my daughter to plan her wedding,  spending time with family and friends, and nurturing my health and wellness just as I nurture my garden. I value love, vital health, authentic connection, lifelong learning and stepping just outside my comfort zone. My professional yardstick has to do with the impact I’m having in educating people about the possibilities that are available to middlescents, by coaching game-changers to be their best selves and to amplify their own effectiveness at home and work. It’s also taking stock of the work I’m doing with other great thought leaders like Arianna Huffington and Chip Conley whose similarly mission-based work so beautifully complements my own. I value empathetic candor, integrity, inclusion, authenticity, commitment and making the world a better place.

How do you measure your success? Start by knowing what you care about–your values. Values are your most fundamental beliefs and can be your most powerful motivators.  They act as clarifying agents. Values are at the core of your goal creating and decision-making. They enable you to focus your energies and prioritize, allowing you to say yes to things you care about and perhaps more importantly, to say no relentlessly to those that don’t line up with your core beliefs.

Use this values exercise to take stock of what is important to you and help guide you in choosing the right yardstick to measure your success.

As we get to the core of what is important in our lives, I challenge you to set intentional and thoughtful goals. Let those goals be your yardstick for measuring success in this new stage.

With Gratitude,

Barbara

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