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Defining Your Year of Success

A woman wearing a white tank top and jeans stands with her arms outstretched in front of ocean waves

As I’ve been exploring my focus for the new year and, more specifically, the themes I plan to work with, I’ve landed on the theme for the first quarter - "Speaking Truth." The books selected for the JennQuest Book Club and what has been on my heart aligns with becoming resolute in owning our truth, who we are, and what we want.

However, when you see your new year – blank slate, full of possibilities, “your year” – there’s one thing most of us want. We want to feel successful on December 31st, 2023. When we look back over this year, we want to see achievements and successes.

For many years, my definition of success was pretty much aligned with the leadership of the organization I worked for – title, salary and more were tied to me feeling like I was a success.

In the fall of 2015, I had one of those “aha” moments.

I was sitting in a conference full of other women in leadership within my industry and the presenter asked us to define success in our own terms. At the time, I had been in my current role for 8 years, had achieved a title and salary that should have made me feel successful, but I questioned, “Why wasn’t I happier?”

When I was asked my definition of success, I realized that I had been working hard to achieve someone else’s view of success. Are title and a good salary awesome? Of course! The thing is, despite that, if we don’t feel like a success or don’t feel happy, we need to investigate why. Here are my suggestions to help you in your investigation.

Your Personal Definition of Success

How do you create your "Year of Success?" You begin by defining what a successful year looks and feels like to YOU.

What do YOU want to experience, accomplish, achieve, complete, or create? If you were to pick a word that describes how you want to FEEL this year – what is it?

Your definition can include fame, money, title, promotion, more time with family, being an awesome parent, achieving a degree or credential, doing something you love for work, helping others, being a good steward of the planet, working within your passion, being an effective leader or any other aspect of what some might think is successful or describe as success.

The most important part – is that it’s YOURS! Get really clear on what it is and go for it for YOU.

A Happiness Project

With my own search in full swing at the end of 2015, I also had hope for the team I was leading at the time. I wanted to see them find happiness in the next year. As I explored how I could get my team of leaders on their own quest for happiness, I came across a journal meant to be the companion of a popular book on happiness.

For the holidays in 2015, I gifted over 25 copies of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project to the leaders I directly oversaw and to the leaders they had on their teams. Along with the book, we had a little gift fun finding the perfect companion journal. As an aside – I’m a junkie for the hunt of a perfect journal, what the cover looks like or says that will provide a little inspiration and most importantly, getting it for a bargain price. I fed my addiction and purchased as many journals as I did books!

I had put today’s topic on the list for the first blog of 2023 in a planning session just last week. I’m forever amazed that when you put out into the universe what you’re thinking of, sometimes it gives you a quick response.

This holiday weekend one of my team-members texted me this image of the book and the letter I wrote at the end of 2015. It was accompanied with a wonderful message about inspiring her then and now.

A copy of the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and a letter from Jenn Montague to her team

I hope I’ve inspired you to look at your definition of success or how you’ve decided to measure success for yourself in this new year. There are no wrong definitions if it’s YOURS! Then create your own project to find your happy "secret sauce."

Because it’s a journey, this was a wonderful reminder that I too needed to dig back into what really makes me happy. The answer to that question is living a life well lived.

Living a Life Well Lived

My personal search for the answer of how I could feel successful and happy led to the creation of a wishlist. Some might consider it a bucket list because essentially, I was creating a list of things I wanted and didn’t want to have regrets about not pursuing.

I asked myself:

  • What have I always wanted to achieve, but couldn’t find the time?

  • What truly brings me joy?

  • What do I love doing?

  • What’s most important to me in this season of my life?

A random search on quotes about happiness led me to the quote I’ve shared time and time again in the last 8 years and has been my go-to mantra.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal, it’s a by-product of a Life Well Lived."

My search for my personal definition of success and happiness resulted in me asking one final question repeatedly:

  • What did a life well lived look and feel like to ME?

The question marinated and I knew the answer after a few months, when the doors of opportunity flung open to allow me the option to reinvent, speak some truth, and really go after what I wanted.

By the spring of 2016, I began my current quest of being an entrepreneur, coach, trainer, and speaker. I immediately chose a priority from what had been on the backburner – getting my MBA. I also made a major relocation to move to be closer to family – now only 90 miles away as opposed to 900 miles away.

The January 2023 version of me is still on the journey to achieving that new definition of success, but I’m much closer to the answer of what a life well lived looks and feels like to ME!

Your journey will be different and may not require major change like mine did. Whatever it is, I truly believe that with clarity and little introspection, you can begin living your year of success, how you define it!

Let us know what your definition of success is by becoming a site member and commenting below.

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