Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

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Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success
Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

Our article on Planning Your Personal Development recommends that it is important to have a vision for your bright future.

A vision here suggests a depiction of what and where you want to be in life.

You might consider this as recognizing what success looks like for you in professional, in your personal life, or possibly in sport and hobbies.

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This vision is an essential step in the approach to identifying your personal development requirements and then taking the effort to approach them.

This page demonstrates how you can develop that personal vision and help to determine ‘success’ for yourself.

What is Success?

Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success
Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

success, n. any favourable development or outcome, something that turns out well or that is judged favourably by others.

Chambers 21st Century Dictionary

It may be clearly understood, but it is worth pointing out that success appears different for all of us.

Each of us has diverse ambitions and something that we want to achieve and attain in life.

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For this purpose, it is unfair to compare your achievements to others or to judge others as ‘unsuccessful’ because they have not accomplished what you want to achieve.

However, even as others may move up in their lives or careers, you likewise have no way of assessing whether they contemplate their own lives a success or not.

Defining Success

Nelson Mandela can, by most standards, be deemed a success: the first president of post-apartheid South Africa, a key person in securing the end of apartheid and, on a private level, a survivor of countless years in the notorious prison on Robben Island.

However, he himself said merely,

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort, and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”

Nelson Mandela

Vision, and success, is extremely personal.

Different Areas of Success

Even though success is personal, there are various ways in which it could be graded and measured: personal integrity, fortune, fame, recognition,  discovering something new via the world, or even just performing your job to the best of your capibility.

It is essential to be precise about what ‘success’ would seem like to you.

As the primary measure to developing your vision, it may be meriting writing down how success will seem.

Define as many perspectives of it as feasible for you, but also recognise the one most significant aspect (money, fame, family, etc.).

Success will also seem varied across diverse areas of your life.

It may be helpful to distinguish particular areas and reminisce about them independently.

Useful distinctions include:

  • Formal or casual study and learning
  • Profession or professional life
  • Private life and relations
  • Hobbies, entrainment, or sport

Motivation and Magnetism

Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success
Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

In reminiscing about success, it may be important to think about people who have impacted you, and also personalities whom you find motivating.

These may be:

  • Personalities you know, who have spoken or done things that have transformed how you recognize success, or what you want to gain in life;
  • Personalities in the public eye, who you may crave to emulate in some form, or to evade doing what they have done; and
  • Fictional, or even Historical characters whom you feel are especially like or unlike you, or who did unusually good or bad things.


Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success
Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

Influence/Attraction can be both positive as well as negative.

It is crucial to be aware of why you comprehend success in particular ways or want to accomplish particular things.

To be precise, you require to be aware regarding your ambitions, whether they have possibly been driven by trying to please others or not.

This is not fundamentally a regretful thing, but it is vital to be cognizant of it.

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Read our article on Self-Motivation, and especially on the difference among intrinsic, extrinsic and obligation motivators.

In each situation, think of why you see these personalities as influential or inspiring.

This is not significantly about what they have done, but regarding how you feel about it.

How to Use Your Vision

At this stage, you should have a broad picture of what success will look like for you in each sphere of your life, and which elements are most important to you. This, broadly, is your vision.

You can think of your vision as the picture on the cover of the jigsaw box.

It guides you and gives you an overall picture of what you are trying to achieve.

When it comes to actually put the pieces together, however, you have to rely on the way that they look and how they fit together in practice: the picture is probably not detailed enough to help.

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In other words, your vision needs to give you a broad picture of where you are going: what sort of life you want, how you want to live, what you want to achieve.

It does not, however, have to be in huge detail.

Although it is the guide that keeps you to the path despite new and challenging information, it should also be open to change when you receive new information about yourself.

Case study: Changing the vision

Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success
Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

Until Melanie had children, she had been a real career woman.

A high-flyer, she had worked as a civil servant and always been first to volunteer for high pressure, high visibility jobs.

Although she had plenty of hobbies, and an active social life, work came first.

When asked, she said that she saw herself progressing through the civil service, onwards and upwards.

But once children arrived, her priorities changed. She no longer wanted to work long hours, or even full time.

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And the job which she had enjoyed so much till now just didn’t satisfy her any more.

She found herself resenting her time in the office, and worrying about how she was going to survive the next twenty years.

When her employer offered voluntary retirement, she decided to take up the offer.

To allow herself a complete break, she took 18 months out to spend time with her children.

After that, she looked carefully around at her options, and decided to start her own business.

She realized that she now saw success as being able to spend time with her children, attend events at school, and be there when the children arrived home each day, while still doing something that kept her brain active and allowed her to earn enough money to meet the family’s needs.

She admitted freely that she would never have expected to define success in that way.

Recognizing that her vision had changed, however, had given her the freedom to do something that met her needs, and those of her family.

A Guiding Hand

Your vision is your guide to developing your personal strategy. It helps you to ensure that what you do gets you where you want to be.

Be warned though: if you find that you want to do things that do not fit your vision, it may be time to redefine the vision!

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