What does success mean to you?

Circle divided into Family, Friends, Physical & Mental Health, Spiritual, Creative, Fun, Work, Romance, Finance, Community
Wheel of life - a tool introduced to me by Jane Hardjono, my coach in 2022

Recently I went for a yin yoga class with a friend and the theme of the class was 'What is success'?

The teacher read a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson which moved me and brought tears to my eye. Here's how it goes:

What Is Success
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and
the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure
the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one's self;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and
sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you
have lived -
This is to have succeeded.
                                                      — by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The poem touches upon some of the most joyful aspects of life - love, service, relationships, kindness, joy, laughter, resilience, beauty .... the things that make life worth living. And this spoke to me because everyday joys and kindness are a big part of my definition of success.

The wheel of life

I want to live an intentional and heart-aligned life, so I have been steadily defining, refining, and evolving the idea of my success. In 2022, Jane Hardjono, my coach at the time, introduced me to the wheel of life (image above), which was a revelation and I have found it useful in designing the life that I want.

I love that it takes into account a whole variety of parameters rather than only money or professional status which are often used as a measure of success.

Here's how to use the tool:

  • You first list the aspects that are important to you in life and create a slice in the pie for each aspect.
  • Optional: For each aspect you can score yourself, e.g., on a scale of 1- 10 on where you are now. And then score yourself on where you want to go in 1, 3, 6 months or 1 year.
  • Instead of scoring, you can also just list what you want from each area in that particular month, year, etc.
  • The goal is to help you articulate the varied aspects that are important to you in your life and see what you want to focus on at a specific point - depending on the lowest scores or the biggest gap between where you are and where you want to go.
  • Once you choose a focus area, you can list what going towards that goal would need.

My wheel of life in 2022

At the time when I worked with Jane, I remember that I was pretty happy with creativity, physical health, friends, finances, romantic relationship and fun in my life.

I wanted to do better with

  • Deepening relationships with family members since I live away from them
  • Be more hands-on with community service rather than just donate money
  • Do better with my emotional health & deepen the spiritual relationship with myself
  • Continue my search for soul-aligned work

And over the two years I made significant progress on almost all of these goals. And if I look at my wheel of life today, I would focus on pretty different aspects. And this constant exploration of where I am and where I want to go makes life feel joyful and meaningful.

And it helps me see that life is a multitude of things and not one aspect on which I fail or succeed, rather it is a accumulation and cross-pollination of many intentions and desires within me.

What does success look like to you?