How Do You Define Success?

It may sound simplistic, but for women who are starting or building careers, the first and most significant step to achieving their own definition of success is to really take the time to thoughtfully consider what success means to them. I recommend doing this early in your career and on a regular basis. What do you want to accomplish? What matters most? Write it down, review it, reevaluate it periodically, and revise it as needed.

In defining success for yourself, try to think beyond the strictures of your chosen profession. Of course, many of us will find ourselves in industries where professional success is measured by titles, compensation, or certain employer-defined metrics, but do not let this limit your definition. To do so would be to allow someone else to define your success for you. Instead, ask yourself: What do I want from my career? What does success look like for me? Answering the questions above may have the added benefit of helping you identify where your passions lie, and many experts cite passion as one of the essential keys to long-term success.

For me, one aspect of success meant pursuing a career I am passionate about—one where I would have the knowledge and the power to help people solve problems. Practicing law has given me this and more. It has allowed me to continue learning and to share my knowledge and experience to help others achieve their goals. This is true for both my clients and the law students and new lawyers who I have had the opportunity to mentor. Mentors and sponsors, along with friends and family, have been critical to my success. They have nudged me in the right direction, saved me from making mistakes, served as sounding boards, and provided honest feedback. And is a goal of mine to do the same for others.

In the practice of law, and particularly in litigation, we have a tendency to equate success with winning. But even the best lawyers cannot win 100 percent of the time. My definition of success is broader. It includes not only doing the best job for my clients, but also developing meaningful, authentic relationships and doing what I can to help others. These are all measures of success.