When it comes to your work, how do you define success? Is it tied to the company you’re employed by? The positions and titles you achieve? Is it related to the amount of your paycheck? Or the size of your network?

The term “success” means, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” For some, the aim is to earn certain positions or titles. For others, money and prestige are primary goals. But there are a couple challenges with these kinds of goals.

First, if your measure of success is dependent on the actions of others–did they promote me, do they like me, etc.–success is no longer wholly within your control. There could be many other determining factors–things you have no control over–that could keep you from being “successful.”

Second, if your vision of success focuses only on the future, how do you view all the time until then? If success is accomplishing a goal, but that goal is always a ways off, you’re always in the mode of chasing, but never quite reaching, success.

Although I’m not against future goals or aims, it’s also valuable to have a vision of success that is 1) not solely in the future, and 2) not dependent on external factors to achieve.

For instance, what if my goals were not only concerned with what I produce but also how I go about doing the work itself? Instead of focusing only on the future, what if I focused more on today? How did I treat people? How did I do my work? Am I learning from my mistakes? Am I being useful to those around me? These kinds of things are within my control. And they are things I can do each and every day.

Which means if your idea of success focuses on these kinds of things–how you approach and do your work, how you interact with your colleagues, how you learn and grow as a person–you have the opportunity to be successful every day. Position and money and reputation may come one day, but they don’t have to determine whether or not you’ve been “successful.”