Define Your Own Success

The Way Women Work UNDETERRED success quote womenWhen Marta Harff set out on her entrepreneurial career, she knew exactly what she wanted. She set clear, honest goals. Today she is the successful owner of the highly regarded fragrance business Perfumumbue in Argentina.

In Marta’s interview with Rania Habiby Anderson for her new book UNDETERRED; The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies, Marta explained what she sought:

“To survive, to earn, to have tranquility, to help my family, to have a good life. I wanted to make money—I say that without shame. I have no fear about hard work, I don’t know any other way.”

Rania’s research revealed that like Marta, successful women in emerging economies define their own ideas of success. They develop specific, personalized goals and values to guide them in their careers, and do not allow others’ ideas of success to deter them from the paths they set for themselves.

“Define your success based on what you want to achieve and

why you want to achieve it. Your definition of success is linked

to the work you have already done to identify what motivates

you. You can think of it as the reward you want for all your hard

work, and the outcome you want to have when you implement

the habits of undeterred women. You’ll know you are successful

when you feel fulfilled and content.” – UNDETERRED, Habit 3: FOCUS, p. 145

Like Marta, who repeatedly refined her definition of success throughout her career, you can establish your values and motivations for your work. As you create a definition of success for yourself, ask yourself three questions: Who? What? and Why?

Who am I ?

Your business, career, and success are integrally linked to your personality, life story, and experience. Know your skill set and the kinds of work that appeal to you. Rather than looking for the first business opening or greatest promise of profit and growth, pay attention to the things you value and want to invest in. Working within your area of personal strength and values is the greatest asset you can bring to your business plan.

What Exactly is My Purpose?

General ideas and hazy visions cannot support you in the rough and tumble of the business world. Train yourself to specify and narrow your goals, to use exact numbers, to plan out each action step, and to set deadlines. This step may require reaching out to an experienced entrepreneurial friend or mentor who can help you know what positions, steps, training, or financing might be needed for the goals you’ve imagined. See our recent story on Bernice Dapaah for a strong example of defining specific success goals.

Why Do I Pursue These Goals?  

To set a clear plan for success, you must define why you’ve chosen your goals. When others ask about your goals, you should be able to give a brief explanation that includes a reason, a ‘because.’ In UNDETERRED, Rania recounts the story of Pooja Goyal, cofounder of InteIllitots, an Indian company that creates innovative learning-oriented programs for young children. She and her business partner, Shivani Kapoor clearly knew the reasons why they founded Intellitots.

“We had both reached a point in our careers where we wanted to pursue

a course where we could have significant impact. The education

industry offered us that platform. We were both convinced of the

importance of the early years and interested in the impact these

years have on the child as an individual, on the family as a unit,

and on society at large. Every small interaction we have with a

child offers us an opportunity to make a difference.” – Habit 3: FOCUS, p. 148-149

Knowing and talking about why you are pursuing a specifically defined goal will encourage you in the mundane reality of daily work. It will also help others see you as a passionate and visionary woman, setting you out ahead of the average business person who is bogged down by directionless tasks.

Like Marta, Pooja, and Shivani, identify the motivations that drive you. Knowing yourself (who), your specific steps (what), and your passion (why) in your work will help you define your own success as you pursue the next season of your career.

Want some more guidance as you work out these big questions? Get your copy of UNDETERRED and its companion workbook, or sign up with your email to get two free chapters of the book.

Define your own success!


Charlotte Cline-Smith

PR & Communications Manager

Cross-cultural consultant. ESL Professional. Writer. Editor. Working to share stories and grow together across cultures and communities.