A New Definition of Success: Finding Fulfillment in Life Transitions

A woman who embodies a new definition of success

Did you know that nearly half of successful people reconsider their career paths after a major life event? In an age of transformation, discover how personal stories of triumph over adversity are reshaping our understanding of true achievement.

As you may know, I am in the process of redesigning my retreats, combining my variously themed 5-day retreats into one 7-day retreat focussing on life changes, challenges and transitions coaching, and incorporating the mindfulness meditation with my horses, walking a section of the Camino de Santiago and explorative and experiential writing and reading.

Redefining Success as I Create a Transformational Retreat

Obviously, I want it to be a transformational experience for my guests, whether it is their first, second or twentieth retreat. This has made me think about success, in general, and more specifically about how I will know whether my new retreats are successful in transforming my guests’ lives.

Success has long been synonymous with wealth, status, and power. Yet, in an evolving world marked by shifting values and unforeseen challenges, I think it is time that the definition of success is re-examined. This redefinition is often initiated by life transitions, changes or challenges that force people to reassess their priorities.

The reason my new retreat is focused on assisting my guests through life changes, is not only because I have lived through several of these myself, more than once, but also because the majority of my guests attend retreats here while going through life transitions themselves.

I suspect it’s the call of the Camino that draws them here.

Linda the Corporate Lawyer’s Story

Consider the journey of my guest Linda, a corporate lawyer who spent a decade climbing the ladder in a prestigious firm. Her high-paying job and impressive title painted a picture of success. However, the long hours and constant pressure left her feeling unfulfilled. Linda’s turning point came when she faced a severe health scare, prompting a reassessment of her life’s direction. She volunteered at a local legal aid clinic, where helping individuals navigate their legal troubles brought her a deep sense of purpose. The gratitude of those she helped contrasted sharply with the impersonal nature of corporate law. After her retreat, Linda left her lucrative job to work full-time in public interest law. Her new career path, while not as financially rewarding, brought her profound satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Linda’s story suggests that success is not merely about external achievements but about finding work that resonates with one’s values, especially when life’s challenges push us to reconsider our paths.

Sylvie, the Succesful Entrepreneur’s Story

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful,” said Albert Schweitzer. This quote mirrors the experience of Sylvie, an entrepreneur who founded a tech startup in her twenties. Initially, Sylvie’s measure of success was revenue and market share. Her startup grew rapidly, but the relentless pursuit of growth soon led to burnout and seriously strained relationships. As her marriage started to disintegrate, Sylvie attended a retreat here and during the retreat decided to reassess her priorities. She began to focus on creating a work culture that valued mental well-being and personal growth. Sylvie’s company started offering flexible work hours, mental health support, and opportunities for employees to pursue their own dreams. This shift resulted not only in a happier, more productive team but also in sustainable business growth. Sylvie is now convinced that success lies in nurturing a fulfilling work environment.

Lila, the Committed High School Teacher’s Story

Lila’s story further illustrates this redefinition. As a high school teacher, she found joy in inspiring her students. Despite pressure from her partner to pursue higher-paying jobs, Lila remained committed to teaching. A significant life transition occurred when her mother fell ill, requiring Lila to balance caregiving with her professional responsibilities. This period of dual roles underscored the importance of her impact on young minds and the lasting influence she had on their lives. Exhausted from her caregiving duties, Lila attended a retreat here. She realised that she does not measure success in monetary terms but in the pride she felt in her students’ achievements and the positive changes she brought to their lives. Her story demonstrates that success can be found in dedication to one’s calling and the positive change one brings to others, particularly when life’s challenges demand a deeper commitment to one’s true calling.

A New Definition of Success

Reflecting on these stories, it became clear to me that success today is a multi-dimensional concept, deeply personal and often unquantifiable. It is about fulfilment, purpose, and the well-being of oneself and others. Ralph Waldo Emerson aptly stated, “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

I will know that my retreats are successful if they assist my guests in redefining success, particularly during life transitions, changes or challenges, to embrace a holistic view that values happiness, impact, and personal growth over traditional metrics.

Stories like those of Linda, Sylvie, and Lila, prove that true success is a journey, not a destination, and it is as diverse as the people who pursue it.

And it’s back to the “retreat redesign” drawing board for me!

(Names changed and stories altered to protect my guests’ identity.)