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Your success depends on how you live the life you choose.  First, you must define what is important to you, your values and principles, and then live your life to the best you can by incorporating those values into your everyday life. The degree to which you are able to live this way determines your success.  While we cannot choose the cards we are dealt in life, we can choose how we will play those cards.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in.  But a man of value  will give more than he receives.”  Albert Einstein

Do you consider yourself successful?   On a scale of one to ten with ten being high, how successful do you think you are?  10?  8?   2?   If you’re like most of us, you put on a “success” face to the world. But in the privacy of your own mind, you may doubt the degree to which you consider yourself successful.  In my book, Living Life from the Inside Out, I present a model for achieving life success.  Do not be fooled by its simplicity.  Simply put, success equals living your values.

Western society defines success in terms of wealth, power, and accomplish­ment.  Trying to live up to these external standards of success is a primary stressor of contemporary life.  As Albert Einstein said,  “The crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.”

We need to re-focus and redefine what constitutes success. Yes, we have to take into account our biological, physiological, and genetic givens, but in large measure we can determine who we will be and how we will live.  We must identify our values and then integrate them into our lives.  The extent to which we live this way determines our success.

Life is not a smooth road for any of us. Because our self-con­cept  is resistant to change, changing it and thinking of ourselves as successful takes time and effort.  As old time comedian Eddie Cantor said, “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”  To change our self-concept and think of ourselves as successful,  we have to take charge of our life. We have to decide what is impor­tant to us and what constitutes success. Your success depends on the extent to which you live your values, your individ­ual formula for success.  Success begins with personal em­powerment; take charge over the things we can control.

Try this exercise.

1.     Make a list of your key values.  Make a list of what is important to you.  Examine the list and determine what values are involved.  Ask yourself how you would like people to describe your character.  You should end up with a list of several values that represent your core.

2.     Develop these core values into a set of principles that you would want to be remembered for.  Principles that you would want your children to honor.  Principles that guide you through life and influence the decisions you make.

3.     Then weave these values and principles into a statement  that describes you.  This becomes your life mission statement.  Some people have found it helpful to think of the eulogy that they would like to have read at their funeral.  This mission statement becomes the basis for your vision; what would your life look like were you to honor your value-based mission statement?

4.    Imagine your life like a house with eight rooms and a solid foundation.  Your values constitute the foundation and the eight rooms represent the various areas of a balanced life: personal and intellectual growth, spirituality, health and fitness, career and job, recreation, community service, family and friend, and finance. Think about the activities, like furniture, that you could put into each of these rooms. Make a list of activities in which you might like to participate.

5.      Once the list is complete  ask  yourself which of these would  be congruent with your core values, principles, and mission statement.

6.     Ask yourself  how you would approach these activities so as to represent your core values, your principles, and your mission statement.  Clearly we cannot expect perfect consistency between your values and the choices you make, e.g., all companies may contributed to some environmental pollution.  But you can make more conscious choices in an attempt at alignment.

Once you have completed this exercise, set it down for a while.  Go back to after a couple of days.  Review it.  Make changes.  Keep working on it until you believe that it most closely represents the life you would like to live.  This becomes your blueprint for life.  It becomes a life plan to help guide you to having a more complete and fulfilling life.  Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Nothing in life worth achieving can be done without a plan.

[This post is an excerpt from my newest book, LIVING LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT: WHO YOU ARE MATTERS. Book profits go to Make A Wish and Chrysalis: Changing Lives Through Jobs.  Please become a fan on my Facebook Fanpage by indicating “like” on the page by clicking here.  You can also find more tools to help you experience a more fulfilling life by clicking here to visit my website.]