I’ve been observing lately what it is that makes someone successful. Success for many people means money, and sure, that’s part of it (who doesn’t love money?). I mean truly successful – fulfilled in work and life, unbelievably productive, surrounded by amazing people and love and positive things, and yes – financial stability.

I look around me and it’s pretty easy to spot the people who are truly successful. You can look around you and do the same. I can also see some that are faltering. Look around – yep…there. And over there.

This post is not intended to “call people out” or be self-righteous in any sense. I’ve been trying to determine for myself how to gauge success in my own work. What I’m sharing here are some thoughts that I’m using to guide that.

I want you to look at the lists below, and put yourself into them. Go down each list, and put a little mental asterisk beside each thing you are doing on a day-to-day basis. It’s the day-to-day basis that’s critical here. Because what I’ve learned is, as much as it’s important to think long-term and big picture, it’s the actions you take every single day that will move you closer to your goals.

Real Work

Not Real Work

How does your list balance out? Remember, think in the context of the activities you are doing every day. Do they constitute “Real Work”, or “Not Real Work”? If your balance is more in the ‘Not’ category, then I suspect you may be wondering why you are not getting any closer to those goals you set back in January.

Now, you might be thinking…sure this is fine and well in YOUR industry, Suze. This makes sense because you are an entrepreneur, a media producer, whatever. This is what YOU need to do to gauge YOUR productivity, YOUR success.

Try something. Pretend for a minute that you are want to be the most successful Bartender, professional hockey player, or  cab driver ever. Go down the list, as one of those people, and put it in context of what that person is doing on a daily basis. If that list was unbalanced, with most of the stuff in the “Not Real Work” category, how successful do you think they would be?

It’s not about how full your to-do list is. It’s not about the superstars you hang around with. It’s not about the tools. It’s not about the tools. It’s not about the tools. It’s not about being busy for the sake of “busy-ness”. It’s not about the reasons you can’t do it.

What’s holding you back from real success?

12 Responses

  1. Great post Sue! Only thing I would add under “real work” is making sure to allow time for your mind to “play.” Dreams and creativity thrive in unstructured time, when we “let go” of our normal work.

    John Meadows’s last blog post..Episode 61: Home

  2. Bang on Suze.
    Reference to discussing what’s NOT possible, is important to mention. I know we like to throw around the phrase ‘positivity’ quite often, but some are simply unable to see potential in certain relationships, or ventures due to a limited background experience – or limited imagination.

    The imagination can grow if you feed it regularly.


  3. Everytime I read your blog, I am inspired! I do have tons of real work and that delegate one is so hard for me. I don’t really have people to delegate too and I do have a bad habit of saying yes too much.

    On the flip side, I have been blessed with more business this year than ever before and my clients have been very pleased. So onward!

  4. During my corporate career, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t have to work late often or as much as others. But then I figured it out later. You answered them all — people were doing “not real work.”

    Furthermore, I do have one advantage: being deaf. People emailed me rather than called me. Email makes it harder to get chatty. People didn’t want to deal with the relay in calling me and plus the conversation isn’t as smooth or as comfortable as without the relay.

    Meryl K. Evans’s last blog post..9 Ways to Brand YOU

  5. Suze,
    great job differentiating between real work and fake work. I often find myself on twitter and not being productive for MY business.

    And what is holding you back from real success? There’s a question for the ages. If you can answer that, you’re 1/2 way to success!

    Is needing to be ‘the expert’ more important than actually working and being the expert? Helping too much someone else and forgetting to help yourself? Guilty on that one. I’ve found that charging for my services weeds out the users – and keeps with good clients. Hmmmm

    See you at SOBCon!


  6. Your posts are always so awesome!

    For me it’s timely as I’m unemployed and soulsearchinig. Don’t know if this makes sense but your gut will tell you what you should be doing and what is a waste of time. Also, I’m a believer that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. For me personally, climbing Mount Everest will never happen, but there’s nothing wrong with thinking big. Also, some people have to hit a hard brick wall no matter what anyone says to learn all of this. Thankfully, and it stinks that it took me 41 years to realize it, but you know what you need to do and the key is to stay on path! NO BS. No goofing off.

  7. Suze,

    Thanks so much for the reminder here!

    The first list creates lasting value. The second list creates instant gratification.

    I’ll flit between these two lists, depending on my “state” of life. But focusing on my mission and what’s possible enables me to correctly get back to my charted course.

    Enjoy the weekend!


    John Haydon’s last blog post..How To Selectively Integrate Your Personal And Corporate Twitter Accounts Using RSS And A Hashtag

  8. Thanks for this! Wonder if this attracts readers who are doing real work or unreal work. To be sure, negativity is a work distraction tactic. Great list.

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