Redefining Business Success in the New Year

By: Jennifer Ayres, Founding Partner

As we turn the corner and head into a New Year, I invite you to my New Year’s Challenge to REDEFINE BUSINESS SUCCESS. I think most would agree that the last few years certainly brought reflection and ‘hindsight’. So many of my family, friends, colleagues, and clients, have expressed a shift in focus and priorities recently as everything we thought was normal, eroded quickly with the coronavirus pandemic. 

So, what will the new year look like for you? How will you measure success? What does success not only look like but feel like for you? Perhaps this year, focus on the qualitative. What do I mean by that? Too often, we are surrounded by structures that illuminate progress based on quantitative metrics. While important, they are not great indicators of how someone as an individual is doing in their heart. My doctor can tell me what my heart rate should be, my cholesterol, my body/fat % etc. but she cannot tell me what number to hit to feel happy and fulfilled. For that, I must go inward.

How I Assessed My Own Success in My Career

Let me share a personal example that may give you an idea on how to redefine your own success. When I was almost a year into starting my company, I looked back on all the target quantitative metrics I set for my quarterly goals on a business plan and well, I wasn’t even close! I felt like a big loser! I thought, ‘why am I doing this’??? ‘Maybe I should stop kidding myself and stop before I burn through my savings’!

Then in a moment of reflection I thought, perhaps I needed to change my perspective on how I define success. After all, the quantitative metrics I created were based on what others told me I should achieve. So, how can I feel successful in my heart (for me this is that sense of fulfillment), if I measure my success by someone else’s definition? Well, I could not. Nor should you.

When I put aside the self-imposed pressure to focus on the quantitative and examine my overall quality of life, here were the results:

  1. I was enormously happier
  2. I had the flexibility to care for my loved ones
  3. I was doing interesting work and meeting amazing people
  4. I was learning so much and my mind was always challenged
  5. I was doing things I NEVER thought I could or would do

So, with this kind of performance, should I quit? HECK NO! I was just getting started! Granted, I do (like all of us) have to consider quantitative metrics (like…can I make enough to pay the bills…) but I decided that there are other just as important indicators of success. I have met a lot of unhappy rich people and a lot of happy poor people in life.

So, starting this year I redefined my metrics for success and I will share them with you in the hopes it might give you some ideas about what success means for you.

My Metrics of Business Success

  1.   That I am happy in the work that I do. In other words, I wake up everyday excited about, thinking about, and ready to do the ‘work’ to achieve my vision and realize and live my purpose.
  2.   That I am able to provide for my family. Now, this may immediately have some of you thinking – “Ah ha! There is the challenge! If she’s providing for her family, then she needs to bring in some dollar figure each month in order to do that and that’s quantitative!” Yes. That is true. However, I would argue that focusing too much on the quantitative and defining exactly what that figure should be is limiting your options for success. There are families that have 10 kids and live off the same income as someone with just a pet cat – for example. In other words, there are ways to live within your means, be happy, and feel abundance. So long as I can provide financial support and emotional support for my family, I am successful. If that’s $50,000 a year or $500,000 a year, this measure does not change.
  3.   That I am able to live a flexible lifestyle. Meaning, that I take care of my clients needs and my family’s needs and I have flexibility to satisfy both.
  4.   That I serve others in my work. That in the work that I do, I act in service to my team, my clients, my leaders, my followers, and my community.

So, as we head into the new year, what does business success feel like for you – not what you think it should look like based on all of the metrics you’ve been handed by someone else. In the end, life is a journey and there are many ways to define accomplishments along the way. Enjoy the ride!