Define Your Success — It’s Not Money!

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A career that you can do with joy, is a career of passion. Whether you aspire to be a writer, musician, accountant, teacher, or even a website designer it is important that you start out understanding that you may not get rich from your passion. And that’s ok.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a famous American writer. However, she wasn’t always a famous writer. I think writers know better than anyone that money is not a reason to focus your career on your passion. Stephen King said it best when he discussed his fame and passion for his career.

“Yes, I’ve made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it … I have written because it fulfilled me. Maybe it paid off the mortgage on the house and got the kids through college, but those things were on the side—I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever.” – Stephen King

In the pursuit of your new career, you might earn much less than what you are currently earning, especially in the beginning. If you want to have a chance at developing your new career into a lucrative business that works for you, defining success early on is important.

Define What Success Means to You.

Establishing your definition of success is key to your success or failure when developing your new career. For example, if you define success by earning large amounts of money, you will most likely become discouraged early in the process of your new career, causing you to throw in the towel and revert back to a job that lacks passion and joy but pays a lot of money.

I’m not saying that you cannot have a lucrative career that you are passionate about. If you practice and become an expert at your new career, one day you could be making just as much as you are now, if not more. However, it will take a lot of time, effort, and the ability to identify what your overall goal is within your new career.

Is your goal to become a success? What does success mean to you? Don’t be fooled into thinking that success only comes in the form of money, big houses, or fancy cars. Imagine, if the goal of your new career was to earn $1,000 each month. What if you only earn $600 a month for the first six months? Does that mean you are not successful? Six months is a long time to feel unsuccessful.

Personally, I find success in the ability to learn something new each day, to be able to give a part of myself to others, to actually see the beginning and end of my work, and to be able to do work that I believe in. If I am able to close out each day by saying, “I’m satisfied with what I have done today,” then I feel successful.  

Like Stephen King, earning money for doing something I am passionate about is just a bonus. I do not let money define my success. Money is just the additional benefit which allows me to make my passion my career.   

Is It Realistic?

You might say this is an unrealistic way to live, that you must make enough money to pay the bills and live. I do not disagree with you. And this is exactly why I do not advise you to quit a paying job too early.

Generally speaking, if you take time to develop your new career, you will eventually earn money from it. But I promise you, this does not happen immediately. Sometimes it can take as long as a year to begin seeing changes, whether it be obtaining a new employment opportunity or seeing profit from your self-employed venture.

What Are Your Options?

Ideally, you would continue on in your current job while you are figuring out what you want to do and while constructing your action plan. Perhaps you will remain in your full time job, still bringing in money, while you spend your evenings and weekends concentrating on your new career path.

On the other hand, if you have an extremely stressful job that is not serving you or is preventing you from focusing on your new career, consider finding a different job. A job which requires less hours but pays enough to cover your bills can allow you time to focus on pursuing your new career.

For example, when considering a career and life change for himself, Joshua Millburn quit his high paying job in the corporate world in preparation to take on a job as a coffee barista, spending his time off refining his writing skills. His dream was to pursue a career of writing; having the ability to work on his writing skills and new career was difficult when working up to 70 hours a week in his job as an Operations Manager. Once he reduced his expenses and made changes in his life, he was able to consider taking a lesser paying job, with fewer responsibilities, in order to focus more time on his passion. Today, he is a well known, published writer and he teaches writing courses.  

I personally know of someone who worked very hard building a large savings in order to quit his stressful job and focus on pursuing his passion of living and working in a different country. He knew that it would take time to identify the right opportunity. He knew he was taking a risk, but he was willing to take that risk in order to be where he wanted to be. By stockpiling his savings and reducing his expenditures, he knew that with a laser focus he could identify his next career opportunity much faster than if he tried to do it while working 60 plus hours a week. It has only been six months since he left his job. While he has not identified the right opportunity yet, he is starting to see more potential opportunities after taking the time to network and be selective about the opportunities he applies to.

It could take some time for you to establish your new career—it won’t happen overnight and it’s best to make sure that you aren’t broke when starting your new career.

Success Is More Than Money.

When you are in search of opportunities within your new career field, don’t be surprised if you have to take a pay cut. And don’t define your success based on the amount of money you are earning. Define success as something more than just money. After all, you can make all the money in the world and still go home each day feeling unsuccessful. I know because I’ve been there and it isn’t an enjoyable or successful way to live. My guess is that you know this as well, or else you wouldn’t be here reading this blog.

Define success as something other than money if you want a chance at successfully developing your new career. Chances are, if you focus on becoming an expert in your new field and provide quality work, you will eventually make money.

“Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

How will you define success in your new career?