To achieve that thing called “success,” first you need to know what it is for you. Your personal definition of success will be unique to you. It’s not how your parents defined success (though you may agree with them on some measures) and it’s not what our culture defines as success. It’s not what I define as success for me and it’s not what your guru tells you. It’s your own unique definition and it’s important that you get clear about it. If you don’t, you’ll waste too much time following someone else’s definition of success.

What would true success for you look like? Let’s start unearthing what your picture of success looks like. Honestly, most of us don’t have a clue! We get so wrapped up in others’ ideas that we don’t form our own – and we don’t even know we’re doing it. Unconventional thinkers are fortunate because we have a built-in “early warning system” that tells us when others’ ideas don’t fit for us. It’s called a gut reaction, and this is the time for that gut check.

So if your truly successful life is based on what’s inside of you, what are your passions? Not what someone else told you that you should love, but what you truly love? And what are your strengths? Not the ones you are “supposed” to have, but the ones you really have. How about your purpose? Some of us have a clear knowing of our life’s purpose from the get-go and others need to let it form over time. How about your character and the type of person you are meant to be in the world? What is your level of desire? Your desire is that energy that will propel you beyond your fears when it’s focused in the right direction. How broad is your willingness? Willingness is the quality of being open to different viewpoints, options, possibilities, and ways of doing things. And what about your mindset? Do you have the mindset of success?

These last three criteria (desire, willingness, and mindset) can definitely be trained. The others (passions, strengths, purpose, and character) are the essence of who you are. It’s not a process of changing them or fixing them. It’s a process of discovering them and letting them loose! That’s the basis of true success for you.

For me, finding my passions and purpose was not a single shift. It was a process, and during that process, I trusted my gut. Today, my passions and purpose are in social impact investing, defined as finding the underlying causes of why things are the way they are, and then working in the direction of changing things. No matter what company or charity I serve, the theme running through all my work is social impact investing, finding effective ways to change things.

But I only discovered this by experimenting, following the threads that felt right and true to me. As I entered deeper into those threads, different avenues opened up for me. Then I would follow those avenues and see how they worked. In effect, that’s how I have attained the success I have attained – I followed the threads and followed my gut.

This is also what will keep you keep going. Getting involved with things that all connect to your passions and purpose will make it seem like it isn’t even work anymore.

Conventional thinkers have this idea that when you get to be 65 or 70 years, you should retire. Really? Why? Why would I retire? I’m having so much fun with what I’m doing and it makes me happy. Those who are eager for retirement from their careers have not followed the threads of their passions and purpose.

They’re retiring from misery – you don’t have to end up there. Read my book, Cracking the Flourishing Code today to help you define your true success.