“Success is the progress we each make in our private, lifelong journey of learning, growing and improving into our best selves.” ~The author.

There are currently as many “tests” to measure success as there are personal definitions of it or criteria for defining it. Where do you go to sort this all out and really know how successful you are? A good starting point is to ask the toughest question there is: What is your main purpose for being here? I have my own answer to this question that seems to be the best possible answer, since it allows for everything else good to occur.

The single most powerful purpose you could possibly have is to learn, grow and improve into your best self. The earlier pioneering positive psychologists called this “self-actualization.” Personally I don’t think any modern theories or systems of personal development, happiness or success have improved upon that primary human purpose and focus.

I have come to think of success as a dynamic interaction between both: (a) being an object you do certain things to attract, and (b) what you get back in return from doing those things. But, the only way to get to this more whole perspective about this interaction, is to make the transition from external to internal motivation (which usually happens before you can understand it. Then, success becomes the process you use to figure out the right things to do to feel the way you want to for more than just a few moments; and it becomes more assessable meaningful assessment. The traditional objects of your success quest of money, power, recognition, influence, status, etc. are only as valuable as how they genuinely make you feel authentically happy, peaceful, comfortable and content.

I will toss out my own model for assessing success for consideration. It is based on lifelong learning, growing and improving in the six main developmental areas of life that traditionally define self-actualization. You can answer these questions by self-rating your progress on a scale of 1-10, with this key:

1 = Just starting.
3 = Good progress but setbacks.
5 = About half-way there.
7 = Satisfied much more than not.
10 = Complete and whole.

Then you can add up your total points to see where you actually are at in this journey—in each of the areas and overall too—as opposed to where you would like to be (1200 possible points in each area and 7200 possible total points), and get a glimpse as to how much more learning, growing and improving is on your personal agenda. Have fun.

1. Physical Development:

• How much effort do you make in trying to maintain an appealing appearance?
• Do you practice good nutritional eating habits?
• Do you exercise regularly?
• Do you get proper rest?
• Are you managing your distress?
• Are you in good health and physical condition?
• Do you pay close attention to personal safety and security?
• Do you make it a habit to be under-confident and over-prepared in physical matters?
• Do you manage your physical self with a regime of good self-discipline?
• Are you temperate in your eating, drinking and activity habits?
• Is your energy high?
• Do you organize your physical environment to make things easier?

2. Mental Development:

• Are you hopeful about the future and do you use an optimistic explanatory style for interpreting both good and bad events?
• Do you diligently practice critical thinking to discern accurate and complete truths?
• Does your thinking involve a good blending of logic, rationality, intuition, creativity and practical common sense to get results?
• Are you flexible in trying different approaches to problem-solving?
• Are you generally resourceful and able to think well on your feet?
• Do you have mental toughness and coolness under pressure when needed?
• Are you balanced between thinking and acting?
• Do you have an attitude towards inquisitiveness, asking good questions?
• Do you use good judgment from experience to avoid disasters and failures?
• Do you practice goal-setting (writing them down) and intense focus on those goals?
• Do you practice effective time management strategies?
• Are you persistent, tenacious and non-quitting?

3. Emotional Development:

• Do you have a positive sense of self worth?
• Do you project a healthy level of self- confidence about your knowledge, abilities and accomplishments?
• Do you have an accurate, mature sense of self-awareness?
• Do you express more positive emotionality than negative feelings?
• Do you control unwanted moods and bad habits?
• Are you balanced between thinking and feeling?
• Are you able to deal with fear productively?
• Do you have empathy for others and express it often?
• Do you deal with your own and others’ defensiveness effectively?
• Are you aware of other people’s perceptions of you?
• Are you patient enough about delayed gratification and in your dealings with other people?
• Are you sensitive to your own and other people’s emotional needs in a balanced way?

4. Social Development:

• Do you practice good verbal and written communication skills?
• Are you good at reading people and high on street sense?
• Do you practice independence, dependence and inter-dependence all appropriately?
• Are you consistently loving and compassionate with others?
• Are you considered a good listener?
• Do you possess perceptiveness?
• Do you have a “likeable” personality—being “real,” friendly, approachable, polite and genuinely interested in others?
• Do you avoid the extremes of passivity and aggression in being truly assertive in interpersonal relations?
• Are you generally positive and agreeable?
• Do you have good social poise, being comfortable and confident in social situations?
• Do you make a concerted effort to help others meet their needs?
• Do you conscientiously afford others the freedom, acceptance, and respect you want?

5. Vocational Development:

• Do you feel and demonstrate an unexplainable, high energy passion for your chosen work?
• Have you identified and developed your main talents fully and are you using them productively?
• Is your main focus on serving others?
• Have you made the transition from being externally driven to being intrinsically motivated?
• Are you cooperating with others, competing against yourself and being inner directed?
• Are you open and receptive to change and being flexible and adaptable to it?
• Do you practice consistency and persistency in following-thru and following-up on details and promises?
• Are you a team player?
• Do you pay close attention to details?
• Do you appear to be fully professional and career oriented?
• Have you realized you don’t know it all and gotten busy learning the things you need to know to be more successful in your work?
• Have you made plans to build your personal legacy?

6. Spiritual Development:

• Are you comforted and grounded by strongly believing in a higher power?
• Do you trust easily and do others see you as being very trustworthy?
• Do you consistently practice morality and use high-road ethics and integrity in difficult situations?
• Are you being responsible in the choices you make, in regards to the likely consequences and impact on others?
• Are you aware of the interconnectedness of things and practicing reverence with all of them?
• Do you actively seeking truth and beauty in all things, in spite of the “facts” and appearances?
• Are you consistently committed to lifelong learning, growing and improving?
• Do you have a healthy balance between self-centeredness and selflessness?
• Do you consistently follow the Golden Rule?
• Are you being appreciative and thankful enough?
• Are you future-oriented, but also highly present and aware?
• Are you spending your time doing what is most important?

How successful are you now, compared to how successful you want to be?

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, The Prosperity Zone, Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, Reality Repair & Reality Repair Rx. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or bcottringer@pssp.net