The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management: #19 Never take your Success for Granted

AchievementThe definitions of success

Success means different things to different people, some believing that success is the achievement of a life-long goal, while others think it’s a perpetual state of moving forward. Success is not only the attainment of one specific goal, but it can be a series of them.

I fall into the later group. I’m always focused on something, feeling that success is just round the corner or on the horizon. If I’m not working towards something in my personal or work lives, then I feel like I’m in a state of anomie, while others may think I’m on a well-deserved respite rather than seeing I’m  off track. Once I realize I’m off course, I quickly change direction by identifying my next thing that will help me feel like I’m moving forward in my life again.

What if you don’t know what your next big thing is?

Must we be in constant motion to be successful? If you aren’t hunting down your next success, then have you taken success for granted? Maybe or maybe not.

I’m not saying you should feel bad about yourself for not looking for your next successful act like a start up or your next move up the career ladder. I’m urging you to view success as something that we always strive for to keep us on our toes, keep us motivated, and keep us passionate.

You may ask, “Motivated and passionate about what?” It could be your career, your business, or your personal life or anything that provides meaning and value to you being here on earth. For example, when I keep a low profile, I’m still working on things that matter to me, such as time spent with my mother or other family members. After years of working hard and being away from my family, spending time with mother is now my definition of success.

Success is a function of your career and life stages

How we view success is also a function of our career and life stages. Earlier in our career, success is moving up the ladder from marketing specialist to marketing manager, from senior marketing manager to group manager or director.

In your personal life, you may decide that getting married and having kids are higher priorities than being a director or vice president. If so, great, then choose to focus more on family than work. Success is not just the next job you’re shooting for, it’s also about being happy as you work on your life goals.

Action Items

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Career stage assessment: What career stage am I at? How does this affect how successful I feel? What would make me feel more successful? How can I work towards my definition of success?
  2. Life stage assessment: What life stage am I at? Is this in conflict with my career stage goals? How can I resolve this conflict? What’s more important? What does the next three to five years look like if my life stage goals have a higher priority than my career goals? What trade-offs do I have to make between career and life goals since I can’t do both?
  3. Personal assessment: What am I doing at the personal level to feel successful? Am I learning new skills or knowledge on my own time? Am I engaging with others that help me learn new ideas? Do I have hobbies or interests that I’m passionate about?

These questions are self-evident, but should help you establish your career and life priorities that drive how successful you feel. Hopefully after answering them, you’ll be able to determine how you can set up a series of successful steps, goals, achievements that keep you on the road to perpetual success.

Never take your success for granted. Keep moving working and spending time on the things that matter to you. Success is really a state of mind, as we try to make our life meaningful.

P.S. The Great Recession has taught all of us, again, that we always need to be prepared for the worst case scenarios. Build up or rebuild your savings, so you feel financially secure. Also, be prepared for the two steps forward and one step back routine. Success often comes with minor setbacks. The trick is to feel like we’re moving forward, even if we have to step back a little. The net gain is what really counts!


The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management series outlines my rules of personal and work success. After reflecting on my personal values, I made this list, realizing values are my rules of being or life management principles. Based on your experiences, I hope this list inspires you to identify your own rules. Here are the rules to my success that may help you over the course of your journey:

Smart Lemming Pyramid

Smart Lemming Pyramid

Level 1: Rules for Our Fundamental Nature

Level 2: Rules of Continuous Learning and Modeling

Level 3: Rules for the Actual Journey

Level 4: Rules of Adapting to Environment and Interacting with Others

Level 5: Rules of Humility

Level 6: Rule of Being

  • #21 Be compassionate.