Pursue your passion. It makes it so much easier to succeed at the things you enjoy doing the most. So don’t waste effort trying to succeed in the things that are not important. You will be happier and feel more fulfilled succeeding at the things you are passionate about.

Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sharon Sullivan.

Sharon Sullivan is the managing editor of Lawn Love, one of the country’s leading lawn care and outdoor services providers. The veteran editor and publisher coaches writers from around the country who produce engaging and educational content for Lawn Love’s blog. When Sharon’s not busy working, she enjoys spending time with her family, running, working out, doing home and landscaping projects, going to the beach, reading, and coaching a variety of youth sports teams.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

I would say my first big life experience that shaped who I am today is when I went off to college. I was born and raised in a small, rural New Jersey town. Growing up I had a lot of close friends, and everyone knew each other. I played a lot of different sports, worked hard in school, and was an overall good kid. But I was a very quiet person, so overcoming my shyness was tough. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and moved 1,800 miles away to attend the University of Florida that I really learned to open up. Moving so far away from everyone I knew and starting over forced me to become a more social, outgoing, confident person. I had to meet new people, make new friends and explore a different part of the country on my own. If I stayed closer to home and never made such an extreme move, I’m not sure I would be the person I am today. Building those qualities in me helped in college helped me succeed later in life.

Another big life experience that changed me (for the better) was having my son. Once you bring a child into the world, you see things differently. Before having my son, my life was so focused on my career and myself. After having my son, I realized just how much I was missing out on in my life. I learned to slow down, enjoy life more, and share more valuable experiences with him. As he gets older, I’m appreciating this time even more. Instead of having tunnel vision, I’ve learned to see the world through his eyes and get a much different perspective.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

When you are young, you look up to adults (or even peers) and think they are successful because they have an important job, drive a nice car, wear designer clothes, and live in an expensive house. You think everyone blessed with material things is happy, healthy, and successful. That is not always the case. Just because they have all those things does not mean they are successful. Success is not all about what you can see on the outside, but also what is on the inside. To be successful, a person has to be happy and healthy (physically and mentally). It all starts there. Once you have health and happiness, you can achieve success in all aspects of your life.

Also, I thought that in order to be successful you had to be smart, do well in school, go to college to get a degree and have a great career. But there are a lot of successful people in this world who struggled, didn’t go to college, don’t have a degree, and don’t have an amazing job. You don’t have to take one specific path in life in order to achieve success. There are many roads that lead to success. You just have to find the best road to take for you.

How has your definition of success changed?

My definition of success has changed because now I see success as not just impacting me and what I gain from it, but what others gain. In my roles as manager, mom, wife, coach, sister, and friend, I’ve realized the impact I’ve had on others around me. Did I teach someone something? Did I help them at a time of need? Did I make an impact or a difference in their life? This can be with your own child or family member, coworkers, employees, friends, neighbors. Success comes from the relationships you have and the impact you make on those lives you touch. When you see those around you become better because of something you did or said, that is very fulfilling.

Success changes throughout your life. As you go through different life stages, your priorities and goals change. When you first graduate from college, you focus on career success. Then, when you get married and have children, that focus moves to being a successful wife and parent. As life takes you in other directions, your focus changes. Sometimes you keep accumulating more and more responsibility, and other times you decide to drop something to dedicate more energy to something new. So as you move through life, the things you want to be successful at can change, and that’s OK.

And everyone is at different places in life. Some success may seem small to one person, but major to another. Maybe success for a homeless man is when he lands a minimum-wage job. Or when a cancer patient finally reaches remission. Success for a hard-working single mom may be when she can afford to put her child through college. And maybe success for a mid-level executive is when they get a big promotion within their company. The definition of success depends on the person, where they are in life, and their personal goals. When it comes to the definition of success, one sizes does not fit all.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

I think this goes hand-in-hand with the topic of redefining success because it’s all about looking at your situation and deciding what’s best for you. So many people had opinions on what was best and what to do during the pandemic. People had to make decisions on vaccines, schooling their children, working conditions, attending activities and events…the list goes on and on. But in the end, people had to make their own choices based on the information they had and what was best for them and their family. We need to be less judgmental and more understanding of others situations and circumstances. Take the time to stop, truly listen and understand someone’s perspective.

I also think we need to focus on making changes in the workforce. Before the pandemic, there was a lot of stress on employees to get things done, often on tight deadlines with few people. Even though we say we appreciate our employees, it often goes unnoticed. There was a shift when the pandemic forced businesses to have their employees work from home. Now companies realize they can have an effective, productive workforce with remote employees. Employees are happier and more productive. This leads to less employee turnover, more job satisfaction and better companies.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

Before the pandemic hit, life was so past-paced. Everyone was on the go and there was no time to slow down and appreciate the little things. When we were forced to quarantine, more people enjoyed spending quality time with their families. They could see that it isn’t all about work, work, work, and more about the things that matter. It was a time for people to reset, re-evaluate their lives and adjust their priorities.

People faced tough challenges financially and with their careers. Some people lost their businesses and jobs. Other people decided it was time to take charge of their lives and go out on their own to start their own business or follow their passion. With more people working remotely, they realized there is life outside the office. For me, I had to homeschool my son, so it was then that working remotely seemed ideal. That’s how I ended up where I am now in my amazing career with Lawn Love.

Also, with the virus taking a toll on so many, people learned that life is short so you have to live it to the fullest. They started hobbies and explored new activities they have been putting off or always wanted to try. People started to really live their lives.

Even during one of the toughest times in our lives and history, the pandemic did have some positives.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”

1. Pursue your passion. It makes it so much easier to succeed at the things you enjoy doing the most. So don’t waste effort trying to succeed in the things that are not important. You will be happier and feel more fulfilled succeeding at the things you are passionate about.

2. Create achievable goals. Start out small. If you can conquer the little goals and have success, you can move on to the bigger goals. Success is success, whether it is big or small. Just like a win is a win, whether you win by 1 point or by 30 points. If you start out with lofty goals and do not succeed, it will negatively affect your mental state and make it harder to achieve success in the future.

3. Be willing to pivot and change. Like I mentioned before, as we go through different stages in life our priorities change. The things we want to be successful at can change as we age. You need to be willing to change your focus from one thing to another. And don’t feel like you failed because you can’t give 110% to every part of your life. Decide what is important to you, and focus your efforts there.

4. Look to others for support and encouragement. You want a good support group that is in your corner and pats you on the back when you have success. They are there to tell you, “Good job,” or, “Look at all you’ve accomplished,” or even, “You did great even though you didn’t get it.” You also need those people around to inspire you with their success so you can look at them and say, “If they can do it, I can do it.”

5. Evaluate all facets of your life. Just because you didn’t succeed at landing that new job doesn’t mean you aren’t a good employee, wife, mother. Don’t judge your success by one setback in your life. There are so many ways to be successful in life, and we aren’t successful at all things all the time.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

We would have less stress and pressure to meet others expectations. If you are trying to always keep up with the Joneses, you will constantly be putting pressure on yourself to be just like them. But you are not them. You will be disappointed if you can not reach goals that are not attainable for you. If you set your own personal goals, you will have a better chance at successfully achieving those goals because that are tailored for you.

We would be setting more realistic goals for ourselves that we could meet. What your definition of success is for you may not be the same definition of success for me. We are different people, living different lives, so your success is different from mine. If my goals are attainable for me, I will have success. I’m a winner if I can reach MY goals.

We would be happier and healthier. If you have personal success, you will feel fulfilled. This will increase your happiness and, in turn, will help you lead a healthier life.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

I think the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of us redefining success all starts in our own minds. We have to change the way we think. We have to not worry about what others will think of our success or failures. We have to wrap our heads around the idea that success is based on our own personal goals, not the lofty goals of others in our society. And we have to put positive thoughts in our own minds that we can achieve success, no matter how big or small that success may be.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

Honestly, I look at those around me who lead successful lives. Everyone has some success in their life. I take bits and pieces from everyone I know. It can be that one person has an amazing relationship with their spouse. Another person can have a way with people. Another can have an awesome family dynamic. Someone else may have a great spiritual relationship with God. Another person may be an excellent leader and coach. I look at everyone in my life and try to extract what I admire the most about them and apply it to my own life.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

If there was one prominent person I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with it would have to be author John Maxwell. I spend a lot of time reading his books to help me in my career to be a better manager and coach, and I relate to his style better than anyone else out there. His writing hits home, and I have applied so many things from his books to my career. He is a very smart businessman, coach, mentor, and speaker, and his books have helped me become a much stronger leader.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check out all of our lawn care, landscaping, and study stories at https://lawnlove.com/blog/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.