definition of success…

Over the course of the Fall Semester, students in my HHS125 classes have engaged in 11 weeks of activities focused on self-exploration (and self-discovery).  They’ve answered kick-ass questions about life, written and shared their life story and lollipop moments, learned about their personality type, their character and engagement strengths, their values, their talents and gifts, their interests, and the audience they’d like to serve. They’ve written their seven-word life motto (purpose statement), identified their meaningful work, and created a vision for the future of their work.  They’ve even identified specific majors to pursue, based on all of this information.  But nothing prepared me for what I experienced in class this morning.

For our in-class activity this week, I had the students do a 5-minute free-write exercise to define success.  However, I wanted them to define what success would look like for their own lives, not what others would define as success, based on the things that they’ve learned about themselves over the course of the semester.

Here’s the assignment – Activity: Definition of Success

You’ve spent this semester learning about yourself and what you want from/for your life. You’ve also defined the work that you’re here to do and who’d you like to help. Now, take a few minutes to define success for yourself; use any of the categories below to help you define success:

What does my success look like in…Work/Career/Education? Money/Finances? Lifestyle/Social? Family/Friends/ Relationships? Personal Growth/Self-Management? Health/Well-Being? Recreation/Fun? Religion/Spirituality?

This is a free-write exercise; write whatever comes to mind over the next few minutes in regards to how success would look like in your life. Use the rest of the space below and the other side of this sheet to record your thoughts.

 I’m going to share several examples of success statements written by these students, almost all first-year students.  However, the following statement (written by one of my first-year male students) was so profound that his classmates not only applauded him when he was done sharing, but several stayed after class to share how much his words resonated with them.  Here it is:

“Success looks like not living a life of average.  I used to think that if I ended up staying in my hometown, then ultimately that was a failure – but I feel like success is what makes us happy.  For me, success looks like seeing my high school and people I care about succeed.  Success means being comfortable but living uncomfortably.  That means the income is comfortable, but you never get complacent.  Working a dead-end job is settling for what is comfortable.  Success means being surrounded by loved ones, but that doesn’t always mean physically.  Sometimes a connection is strong enough that you’re embraced even when they’re not around.  Success look like happiness.”

What a great learning experience for both myself and the students in class.  So many a-ha moments.  And now it’s clear why I have to continue teaching this class.

Here are a few other examples:

“Success is finding happiness in all that I do in life.  Having meaningful relationships with the people that I love.  Waking up each morning looking forward to the day ahead.  Having a career that I am both passionate about and that provides me with a comfortable life.  Being remembered as a person who made a difference in the lives of others.”

“Success is not having to worry about how I am going to survive day-to-day.  Success is graduating from college and getting a job with a career I love, having a family to love, and friends to lean on, believing in the Lord, be healthy, and helping others when needed.  Success is a mile at the end of the day when I know I’ve accomplished something good with my life.”

“For me, success means I am surrounded by love and support.  I change people’s lives when they come in contact with me.  When people talk about me it’s with real emotions.  Drama and negativity stay in the TV, able to be turned off whenever I am willing.  Success within my inner circle means I can trust everybody around me.  When I go home I have a spouse/significant other truly there for me.  True success when my relationship builds back strongly with God and I fully trust him with no doubts.”

“Success is being able to live life doing what I love.  Success is being able to benefit others along with being beneficial.  Success is going far above and beyond in my life.  Success is being able to reach my goals, creating them and fulfilling them.  Success is reaching the finish line.  Success is being able to be/create/do something special in my life every day.”

(more to come…)

So, what’s your definition of success?

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