Being The Most Followed Person You Know Is Not A Measure Of Success

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The Great Facebook & Instagram Outage of 2019 was an exercise in self-worth beyond social media. If these platforms went down permanently, would you still feel successful? They don’t dictate your worth. Your follower count shows that your content is relevant, but it’s not an accurate measure of success.

I’ve spent my career in the marketing industry working with both brands who care about their follower count and influencers who are judged by their follower count and engagement rate. As much as I’d like to say that I leave growth strategies at the office, I don’t. I mix hashtags, post sharable content, and go weeks where I make sure there’s always at least one Story up all the time. Great for my personal brand, but bad for my mental health.

So what is the right measure of success? It’s nothing numbers-based.

Finding the right measure of success

Every person’s idea of success varies, yet there are a few foundational points that are universal. The first is happiness. Are you really, truly happy with where you are? If yes, focus on what that “yes” is. It could be your community, a work project, your spiritual life, or something else. Learn what makes you happy, and duplicate it in other areas of life.

If no, consider what you could change, and where you could bring happiness from one area of life into the other. As much as you may believe that happiness is your Instagram account, it’s not. It’s moments like long car drives, sunsets with friends, and enjoying a project because you’re proud of it, not because followers are praising it.

Another measure of success is personal growth. Consider where you were at this time last year. Personal growth, whether it’s through relationships or difficult work experiences, can positively shape our view of success. It could be discovering a job you thought you loved wasn’t for you, or choosing to invest in a relationship instead of a faster promotion. Whatever your idea of success through personal growth is, focus on that above external measures.

Helping others is a third way to measure success. When we first set out as a creative professional, it’s tempting to avoid sharing our knowledge to keep our edge. The more we grow and develop, though, we know that community over competition is more than a catchy phrase. It’s a belief that success gives us the opportunity to help others achieve their own set of goals.

Once you’ve chosen your new measure of success, it’s time to find your way there.

How to reach your measure of success

Discovering and implementing your new measure of success stems from personal development. We need to set action items so that we really do begin to change our perspective instead of wishing for it to happen.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are a few ways to begin your refocus on success:

  • Start a passion project that you don’t publish on social media.
  • Begin a short mindfulness practice every day.
  • Set a work goal that will stretch you, without focusing on numbers.
  • Commit to helping one creative a month get to their next goal.

This isn’t an immediate change. Rather, it’s an evolution that occurs while moving through life with, as Brené Brown describes, a strong back, soft front, and wild heart. Basing your self-worth and success in a follower count isn’t the way to find true success. True success only occurs when we reset the dial to something far more rewarding. Go out with the confidence that you can redefine your measure of success without waiting on anyone else. Your mental health and self-worth depend on it.