How Will You Know You’ve Been Successful? Letting Play and Rigor Into Your Goals

I recently went out for a reunion meetup with my spring 2015 class of the Build Yourself+ workshop. I didn’t initiate the night. When I got an email from a former participant suggesting a reunion I felt a thrill.

She was meeting my personal challenge goal.

My Personal Challenge

How will you know you’ve been successful?

It’s a question I ask all the time to my workshop participants and my social change clients. When we talk about the change we want to see in our lives or the impact we want to make, we often unconsciously default into vagueness. “I want to be more empowered in six months,” my workshop participants tell me, or “I want to be a better speaker.” Well, how will you know you’ve been successful?

It’s not that complicated of a question, but it takes thinking, and what I call the ‘personal challenge’ mindset. Sometimes it’s as simple as “I will make eye contact and smile at least ten times in my next presentation” or even “I’m going to grab three coworkers to critique my presentations over the next 3 months, to give me feedback and track my performance.” We are all works in progress. We don’t arrive at empowerment and being strong self-advocates by willing it or thinking it. We do it by approaching our own growth with a hint of rigor and a lot of playfulness and kindness.

I sat down a few months before the spring session of Build Yourself+ and checked in on my goals for the workshop. I wanted to do more than teach six weeks of content. I wanted to introduce participants to a new way of thinking about themselves and their goals, and kick off a process that is so powerful and meaningful that they leave Build Yourself+ building their own communities and taking that process into their own hands. “How will I know if I am successful in achieving this?” I asked, “If some of my participants choose to keep meeting each other or create their own groups.”

That goal changed me.

I made systematic tweaks to my facilitation style and our activities to empower women to take ownership. I increased opportunities for cross pollination and spoke about the workshop community as a the start of a lifelong ‘old girls’ club.’ My goal changed how I thought and acted because I knew what success looked like and went for it in every way I knew how.

I showed up at the reunion and learned about women taking the principles of the workshop forward in their own lives, whether switching jobs to better align with professional goals (and negotiating for an ambitious yet realistic salary goal, yes!) coming into their own power by stepping up into new leadership roles at work, or starting their own weekly discussion and personal challenge group at work (yes! yes! yes!)

We can’t control all the outcomes, but we can control our actions.

Thanks to my spring 2015 workshop class to helping me meet my goals. What are yours?