You (and only you) get to define what your success looks like

September 22, 2017 Matt Heinz

I get jealous.  I see other companies growing faster than mine.  I see other agency founders who started later and have bigger teams.  I see other consulting firms growing faster while we’re grinding it out to hit our number.  It’s easy to look at their success and fret about whether my growth, my success, my margins are good enough.

But their business has nothing to do with mine.  Their success (or lack thereof) doesn’t at all affect what I can do, have done, or will do.

Whether you run a business, are starting a business, or work for someone else, there’s little if any value in worrying about what someone else is doing.  Only you get to define what your success is, what it looks like, how it is defined.

A couple weeks ago I met a newly-minted entrepreneur at Content Marketing World.  He’s just getting started but is already looking at companies ahead of him and worrying about how he’s going to catch up.

But is “catching up” really the goal?  Will that make him happy?  Will that automatically give him the business, the life, the future he wants?

I think about this a lot as our business grows too.  I’ve been clear for years – with myself and our team – that I want us to be excited to come to work in the morning and proud of ourselves when we head back home.  That’s based on working with good people, doing good work, doing work the right way, and enabling the career and life we want.

Each of us defines that differently.  Earlier in my career, work was a clear top priority.  Today, my family is a much higher priority so success is measured not just in the success of this business, but also in the moments I get to spend with my family, the values my kids learn, the legacy my wife and I are hopefully leaving with them.

If I were to pursue faster growth in our business, invest more time in the business, it would naturally take away from those family priorities.

So I’ve defined success in my own way.  It’s not everybody’s way.  But I’ve grown to be comfortable and confident in what that looks like.  And articulating that vision of success makes it a whole lot easier to see what others are doing and spend far less time worrying about it.

As we get close to Q4 and start thinking about the new year, I’d recommend taking a few moments to jot down what your definition of success is as well.  It can start with just a couple bullet points, and you can continue adjusting it over time.  But writing that down – and thinking about it relative to your life, not just your work – will help guide decisions, priorities, focus areas and piece of mind moving forward.


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