Success - Are We There Yet?

What's your perception of success?

Do you see it as ever-elusive? Is it a work in progress? Or is success more of a final destination for you?

No matter what your thoughts on success, one thing is certain: if you don't know where you're headed, you'll never know when you've arrived.

So where are you headed?

Some people see success as the six-figure income, waterfront property, hot car, flashy clothing and all the accouterments that go along with the high profile career and lifestyle. But they forget that success is a subjective term, and the above definition might sound good on paper but it's not without its own set of sacrifices. What will you have to give up in order to maintain such a lifestyle? Peace and quiet? Time? Rest? Family time? A healthy, balanced life? An unassuming, everyman existence?

Some think that they'll wake up one day to "arrive" at success... as though there will be a neon sign blinking over their head, confetti falling from the sky and alarm bells going off that they've hit the jackpot - the be-all, end-all in their life and career. That's hardly realistic.

Success is an evolutionary process that happens in waves. You think you're moving forward with one aspect of your life, and then something unexpected happens that lurches you off the path and puts you temporarily "out for the count." That old expression, "One step forward, two steps back" is often true on the path of your life and happiness. The key is to get back up, shake it off, and keep stepping.

It's safe to say that at the very least, you know when you're "headed" on the path to success. I'ts a feeling that things are gaining momentum - your bank account is growing, your name seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongue. You're outgrowing your old ways of doing things and searching for ways to fit in all the new opportunities that keep coming your way.

No, there may not be an actual finish line with a sign that says "Success stops here." But you can definitely get a sense for when things are going well in your life and when they're about to get even better. In that case, you've likely "arrived" as much as can possibly be realistic.

But this article isn't about arrival so much as it's for people who need help getting their bearings in the first place. For starters, it pays to assess your subjective view of success - what it means to you personally.

Think about how the following might fit into your scheme of personal success:

Income. Do you want to be a top earner? Or is a comfortable living more your speed? Quantify your reach salary. Quantify your attainable salary. Compare with what you're taking home now. What's your action plan for getting there?

Opportunity cost. To some, a six or seven-figure salary can be justified by 80-hour work weeks and 60% business travel. What exactly are you willing to swap in or out in terms of your career and life?

Values. How do your personal values play into the picture? Is it Very Important, Moderately Important, or Not So Important to work for a company that shares your values? If giving to others is important, is there a way to work service into your career plan?

Time frame. Map out a time line for reaching your end goal. Create smaller, stepping stone goals and pace these out chronologically as well.

Work-life balance. Most people strive for a healthy balance between their career and personal life. Have you factored in enough family time and personal time into your plans? What about making time for your community?

Health. Age, physical condition and heredity all play a part as well. As a general rule, those who are able to sustain success do so by taking good care of their bodies and expending stress through physical activity. How do diet and exercise weigh in?

Sometimes, a life coach can be especially helpful when plotting the road map to success in your life.