Never feel “successful”? You might be doing this.


If you’re a Catalyst you might never feel “successful” in your work. Like … Ever.

During my research with Catalysts I initially asked the question “What makes a Catalyst feel successful?” and after hearing a few people pause … for a long time …. and then say something like “well… Catalysts miigghhttt feel successful if, hmm, if, …” I realized it was the wrong question!

You might rarely feel successful because you are focused on systemic change and it can be difficult to gauge when systemic initiatives have been successful. Plus the timelines are looooonggg and the definition of success can become a moving target. You might even leave before the success is visible (many hear about it from colleagues much later). Or, you might reach your goals but by the time you arrive you have set new, bigger goals… so you don’t give yourself credit for having arrived.

Because you are not experiencing a sense of success and you are constantly setting more ambitious goals, you’re more likely to experience burnout and exhaustion.

Here are four tips that can help you move forward:

1. Acknowledge it’s your nature

First, know that feeling successful can be elusive and is common for Catalysts. During a Catalyst Constellations Retreat there was even a group discussion about “feeling like a fraud”.

2. Create shorter-term goals

Systemic change can be amorphous and incredibly challenging. Begin with a clear vision about what you set out to do and create shorter-term goals for yourself.

3. Celebrate completed goals

Once you reach these shorter-term goals take the time to celebrate by doing small things that bring you joy and energy.

4. Focus on different questions

I learned that better questions for Catalysts are things like: What do I feel proud of this week? What action did I take that helped push toward my Vision?

What are some of the short-term goals that you have recently achieved? What are you proud of from the last week? Would love to hear!


Tracey Lovejoy isn’t your typical Leadership Coach–she’s a renowned qualitative researcher with experience leading top institutions including Microsoft and the EPIC conference. Tracey has a unique ability to support your leadership journey and transform how you view your challenges so that you can continue orchestrating change in your organization. She writes regular emails that encourage, inspire, and give you a sense of community– the Catalyst Quick Tip. Click here to receive the Catalyst Quick Tip in your inbox.

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