The fourth commandment – Know what success looks like

know-what-success-looks-like-1Have you ever started a project that grew and grew, so that it felt like it would never end?

Have you looked as someone’s Facebook feed and wondered why they have so much more success or fun than you do?

Have you ever had that feeling that you are working hard and getting nowhere?

If you answered yes to any of these questions (and that includes everyone I know – including me) then you probably don’t always have a clear vision of what success looks like!

If the third commandment is all about knowing what really matter to you, then the fourth commandment is all about turning what matters into deliverables … clear projects that change where you are.

As an example, you might know that travel is important to you; that’s a perfectly valid third commandment decision. However, you’re going to remain unfulfilled in your travel desire unless you choose one or more projects about travel.

Success in your desire to travel might be a trip to another country, another part of the country you live in or to make a round the world trip with twenty different destinations. What you choose as the destination is a personal decision; having clear projects relating to travel is what matters.

Here are the top six reasons why knowing what your success looks like really makes a difference.

  1. Getting started – It’s very hard to get started without a clear vision of what success looks like. It’s that clear vision of a better outcome that motivates us to start the process of moving forwards.
  2. Keeping moving – A clear vision of success keeps us going when things get hard along the way. Knowing where we are going doesn’t only help us keep moving towards the destination, it allows us to create a whole route map with lots of intermediate destinations along the way.
  3. Dealing with obstacles – Nearly every project has obstacles along the path. You can expect that you are going to have to change your plans, adapt your route and deal with all the other things that come at you in life during your journey. Knowing where you are going will ensure that when you do have to move off the planned route you know how to get back on the right heading!
  4. Knowing when you get there – The Facebook development teams motto is “done is better than perfect”. We tend to want to shine and polish the projects we work on, and tweak them to make them “better” endlessly. Part of knowing what success looks like is acknowledging that you have got there and that the journey is complete.
  5. Fending off the doubters – Along the way, there will be people that will try and blow you off course, entice you to take on their projects or criticize yours. Having a clear vision of success will make it much easier to fend these people off and keep moving towards the outcomes you want. Sometimes you will, of course, help others on their journey and that is important but never lose sight of your own success.
  6. Enjoying the view – Finally, when you do reach your personal success for a project or an area of your life, you need to take a while and celebrate. I’m personally really bad at this – “ok, that’s done! Now, what’s next?” You need to enjoy the fact that you have reached the end of your journey and be amazed at how far you have come. Not only is it fun, it recharges you for the next project!

One final note. Your definition of success for a particular project is a source of energy to help you power through to achieve that goal. It is not supposed to be a ball and chain holding you back. Occasionally you will find that an image of success becomes a demotivator. This may be because you need to plan the route in more detail but it may also be because the image is wrong or that your life has changed in other ways and it’s no longer relevant. If this is the case … don’t hesitate to change the image or even discard it!

Do you know clearly what success looks like in your life? What techniques do you use to make sure that you clearly know what success looks like before you start a journey? How do you celebrate success as you move down the path? Share your best practices in the comments below.

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