When we think about the idea of ‘success’, what does it mean to you? Is it something we ‘are’? Or something we obtain? Or both? And in either case, how do we know when we either have it? How do we know when we’ve reached ‘that point’? To answer this question, we need to understand how to measure success.

Woman wearing You can do anything top

What is success?

Before we think about how to measure success though, we need to consider what it actually ‘is’. Personally, I think that the idea of success means different things to different people. For some people, success means being able to live the life that they want. Others are more driven by accolades, awards and reputation. Then there are those driven by numbers, such as the number of followers you have on your Instagram account, or the amount of cash in the bank! It can, of course, also be a combination of all of these things.

And you know what? I think it’s good to define your own success. I think it’s healthy.

For me, this quote from the wonderful Mrs O, captures my idea of success perfectly:

Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.

Michelle Obama

How to measure success

How to measure success though, is more tricky and the ‘formula’ will depend on many things, including your definition of it. It also, of course, depends on the metrics you choose to measure. So the points below are not intended as a ‘one size fits all’ way of how to measure success. Instead, they are intended as a guide for you to use in the context of your own definition.

1) Understand where you are now

To measure anything, we need to know our starting point. Our baseline. This is the first step, regardless of how you define success. As an example, if one aspect of that success is building a strong social media following, you need to look at your Insights and make a note of your current standing against key metrics – followers, engagement rate and so on. By the same token, if your definition of success is primarily financial, you need to establish your revenue, profit margins etc, as they are now.

2) Understand where you want to be

Whereas point 1 is about where we are, the second step in how to measure success is about understanding where you’re going. This is essentially where we set targets. So if ‘success’ means being able to maintain a certain lifestyle, think about what this looks like. And if it means making a difference, you need to decide who you are going to make a difference too, and to what extent.

3) Map out your journey

The first aspect of mapping out your journey from point 1 to point 2 is a practical one. What do you need to actually do to achieve your goals? But while the practical steps are important, mindset at this point, is equally so. For example, if we set ourselves a really ‘lofty’ definition of success, but we are starting close to the beginning, achieving that success can feel a long way away. And when we hit the inevitable bumps along the way, that ‘success’ can start too big. Too far away. Too unachievable. So when it comes to how you measure success, remember to pay attention to your interim milestones. To your progress. Not just to your end goal.

4) Understand your data

If you’ve been following this blog or our socials, you will know that we think numbers are the foundation of everything in business. The same is true of success. So regardless of whether you’re growing a social media following, getting to a point where you can leave your day job to focus on your own business, or striving to achieve a particular income target, you need to understand the data. And check in with it regularly. Because it’s our data that tells us whether we’re achieving our targets, and making the progress we’re looking for. And ultimately, whether we are likely to achieve the success that we’re looking for.

5) Be true to yourself

Once you’ve established where you are and where you’re going; how to get there and how to track your progress along the way, the final step is to be true to yourself. To stay focused on what success means to you. It’s all too easy to be distracted by people who try to ‘sell’ you their definition of success – for example the coaches who promise you the dream life, or a seven figure business. But if you’re not driven by these things, don’t let them cloud your own definition of success. You know yourself and what you want to achieve best, so focus on that!

Coaching for success

When I work with my coaching clients, this is exactly the process that I follow. Rather than taking my clients through a pre-defined process, I create a path that is completely bespoke to them. And what is at the front and centre of that process? Their definition of success!

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.

Anne Sweeney