Navigating the Gig Economy – Part 2 – What is Success?

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”
~ Bob Dylan

The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



What is your own definition of success?

In the first part of “Navigating the Gig Economy” I introduced the “10 Rules” (according to Diana Mulcahy, author of the book “The Gig Economy”) to be “successful” in this uncertain and new economy we are experiencing these days: a part-time, only contract and no benefits gig-to-gig economy that seems to be beneficial only to employers looking to reduce costs.

The first of these “rules” is to create your own definition of success: if you still go by what others have told you (parents, teachers, TV ads, society in general) of what success is (or not), you’ll be in trouble with your soul and with reality: your soul will try to get through, nagging you through procrastination, self-sabotage, negative thoughts, “shoulds” and “coulds” and even chronic illness or emotional issues, from anxiety to depression; Reality, on the other hand, will pay you differently, because the Gig Economy cannot guarantee the  “American Dream” type of success anymore: there are real limits and challenges to that “dream”, and that dream has also serious ethical issues around it.

What the Gig Economy guarantees is that you’ll have lots of work and not necessarily what we call “a job”. You’ll also have lots of “in between” time and the lazy attitude (“Get a job and drag n it until retirement”) won’t work anymore. Income won’t be stable and you may never get benefits, you’ll have to use different skill sets and adapt quickly to diverse teams, projects and ways to do things.

Defining success in your own terms has many benefits, starting by responding to the call of your inner needs and wants and not those imposed from outside…

What is your vision of success?

What are your priorities and values in life? What things are non-negotiable and sacred to you?

What is your definition of a good life and a good livelihood (how you “make a living”)?

Do not rush through the above questions: take time every day to relax and think about what you need and want and what’s truly important for you, your loved ones and those who contribute to your well-being and even survival.

Taking time off for yourself is not a luxury but a need, if you don’t know how, I suggest you follow my “Project re-Connect” for some ideas.

Some exercises that may help include:

  • Write two obituaries: the one you would like to be read and the one where you are most likely headed if you continue with the life you have right now. Comparing these two obituaries may show you where you may need to change, what’s working and what’s not…after all, why would you want to live a life that leads to an obituary you’ll regret or worse, hate? This exercise was designed by Roz Savage, read her story here.
  • Fill the space “between the dash”, how would you like to live it?. Linda Ellis wrote a poem called “The Dash“, where she was referring to the space between the dates when you are born and the date you die:

“For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars….the house….the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.”

  • Remember that definition of success is not a one-time exercise: our goals, dreams, even values change as we mature and our circumstances and needs change. Take time every year to review where you are at and where you want to be. For this, you may want to take some time off with a life coach, a mentor or what Jon Young (from 8 Shields Institute) calls “anchors” in your life. Finding your gifts and your purpose may not be a solo journey: sometimes we don’t see our own gifts as the wounds in our lives are too close to our gifts. If you want to learn more about this process, I suggest you take the Renewal of the Creative Path with Jon Young, or hire me to walk through it with my support.
  • Make a list of people you truly admire or consider successful in their own special way (not necessarily how society makes us believe success should be). Describe what they do, how they live and what is what you admire in them. This will give you a clue of what is your own definition of success and what you may need to do to get there.
  • Surround yourself with people who carry the traits or achievements you want for yourself. Jim Rohn (personal developer) says that we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If you spend your time with people you don’t admire and care for or who drain your energy and dreams away, you will eventually become one of them. Look for your “tribe” and spend as much time with them as you can, success is contagious!
  • Author Diane Mulcahy recommends that you set up the appropriate timeline. Success may take time, and there may be things you may not be able to achieve his year or even in five years. You don’t have to go “either/or”, Mulcahy says, you an have “both” as long as you have a wide enough timeline for the things you want in life. Give yourself time and see things in perspective: you may not be able to start your own business this year, but you can start working on it on weekends.
  • Finally, adopt an “opportunity” mindset instead of an “employee” mindset. The employee expects the employer to provide everything: from the routine and structure to the “career path” and ways you should develop it. This is a very passive and lazy way to do things in life. It may have worked for your parents and may still work in certain places, but not only is passive, it is dangerous! Being dependent on your employer for everything makes you dis-empowered and dependent, unable to decide and act on your own. An opportunity mindset has a very different approach: see every job or contract/gig as an opportunity to learn something new. Take control of your budget, career timeline and goals and work on the skills you want to develop and not only those that are “marketable”. As a colleague said to me recently, don’t try to adapt yourself for the job, “create” your own jobs based on your gifts and dreams.

Final thoughts:

“Success” has been both misused and overrated. So much, that people tend to become suspicious around this word.  Success comes from the Latin “succedere” which means “come close after” and “successus” that means “an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome”. Think on what that means for you, take your time and start seeing the possibilities.

Next week’s “rule”: Diversify!

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