Set your goals for the new year and reflect on the one that has just passed. We come across a version of this request every December. And this December, in a way, is more special. It marks the end of a decade and the beginning of a new one.
When you look back on this decade that is just about to close: How successful do you feel it has been? Do you have an underlying feeling of success or that nagging voice that you have not lived up to your full potential?
As a big believer in reflecting on and setting goals, I had this nagging feeling and internal pressure to just “get on with it”. As if finding a quiet time required for an exercise like this is such an easy task in the whirl and joyful chaos of December! Funnily enough, like so many great AHA moments, this year’s big reflection insight came to me not in a quiet moment but in the morning chaos of getting the kids out to school.
I have a huge subconscious bias towards the definition of success (still!). My instinctive reaction to the reflection of the past decade was one of not doing and achieving enough. That I need to make sure the next decade is more fruitful. And that is when it hit me. The stories of success that were sold to me as a child, the ones defining success as a job title and a perfect house, and a perfect (preferably size 8) body, still in a way shaped my perception of success. Of course, I now become aware of this more quickly and reframe my thinking, but nevertheless, this old mind was still trying to hijack my reality.
Illusion of success
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein
The funny thing is, our feeling of success has not much to do with success itself. But much more with the way we choose to see the life we lead. Our reality is shaped enormously by the mental maps we use to evaluate it. Do you know that saying by Albert Einstein: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”?
If reality is only an illusion, and who am I to argue with Albert Einstein after all, then we have a choice which “reality” we embrace, which mind map we choose to follow: the one that has been handed down to us by our circumstances, or the one we consciously create.
We are all born into a certain region of the world, socio-economic class, historical period or culture, that is largely defined by geography and all of this shapes our subconscious map. I am a white woman, born into a caring family, at the time when walls were falling (the Berlin wall to be precise) and capitalism was replacing communism. My definition of success is different from the definition of success of someone who was born at the same time but in China or the Middle East. We were facing different realities.
Designing your mind map and re-evaluating your success story
“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.” Michelle Obama
In order for us to evaluate our success and define our goals going forward, we need to step back and ask ourselves: What is my definition of success?
For the definition that really matters, you need to be clear on your values and on the impact you seek to create, within yourself and those around you. At the end of the day, what would you want your family, community and colleagues to say about the impact you have created. And what matters to you. For this exercise you need to be truthful, curious and aware – aware when the “shoulds” of your pre-installed mind maps are creeping in.
Only the mind map based on your own values can be a true reflection of your success. So, this year, I am inviting you to spend some time in getting curious around the current mind maps you use to measure your success before you set any more goals for 2020. How do these maps reflect your values, the true self you are yearning to bring forward?
At Azkua we love helping individuals to get curious around the mind maps they are currently using. How does it help them or hold them back? We co-create together the goals that are truly meaningful to a person and implement the strategies on how to achieve it when our old mind maps are trying to hijack our attention. Contact us for more information.
Dovile Corrigan. Azkua coach