Wellbeing and flexibility: Five ways we’re redefining ‘success’ in 2021


Owners Collective founder Pru Chapman. Source: supplied.

Let’s be honest, 2020 caught us off guard.

Complacency in our routines and waning levels of happiness had become the norm. We’d become accustomed to long working hours, over-consuming, and defining our success according to annual turnover.

If we were to be really honest, as a society, we had been living well beyond our means, in a way that was no longer sustainable to either the planet or our overall happiness.

As initially uncomfortable as it might have been, our lives were ready for change. 

Enter a global pandemic to radically shake things up.

Almost overnight, we saw how quickly the world could transform.

Working from home became standard, as did online gigs and Zoom family hangouts. 

As we physically moved indoors, we were also given the opportunity to refocus internally, and take stock of what we held to be important in our daily lives.

Within this process for the first time in a long time, our metrics of success started to shift. 

Staring down the barrel of a global pandemic, climbing the corporate ladder or making a million bucks a year seemed quite superficial. 

Surface-level activities fell away, and the health and wellbeing of our family, friends, and communities became the centre of our attention. 

Fast forward to today, and as restrictions start to ease and we move into the ‘new normal’, the ways in which we define success are seeing a significant realignment. 

We’re no longer defining our achievements tied to big mortgages and overpriced SUVs, but rather to more meaningful influences that nurture our best selves and ‘whole’ lives. 

Our metrics of success have been redefined, so here’s what we’ll value in 2021.

1. Work-life integration

One immediate effect of the pandemic was that we gave up the hunt for the ever-elusive work-life balance. 

As offices and coworking spaces closed around us and we retreated into our homes, our work had no choice but to become part of everyday lives. 

Overnight, the imaginary line stepped over once you walked into the office, and out again at the end of the day vanished.

In fact, in lockdown times there was nothing to balance, everything became one.  

Although we initially juggled the Zoom meetings between multiple school drop-offs, before too long, squeezing in a daily WIP between loads of laundry became the norm. The lines between work and life were blurred, and we discovered that if we radically reduced our perfectionistic tendencies it truly was possible for the whole shebang to be seen as ‘life’.

Now as restrictions are eased, and workplaces reopen, many of us will choose to keep the lines between a mid-morning run and a quarterly review blurred, and we’re not feeling sad about it.

2. Purposeful work

The pandemic brought home the stark reality that life can be short.  Much too short to be working 40-plus-hour weeks in a meaningless role.

As businesses pivoted and closed the door was wedged open to explore new roles in more purposeful directions. 

Entrepreneurs took the time to realign their company values, and certification bodies such as B Corp saw a surge in interest. 

Making our time count by positively contributing to people and the planet gives more meaning and fulfilment to our daily lives, which will continue to influence our work choices in 2021.  

3. Fulfilling relationships

It’s no secret that our busy and fragmented lives often covered up dysfunctional relationships that were past their used-by date. 

Being home-bound for weeks and months on end meant that there was nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. The cracks deepened and we chose to either lean into or out of our relationships.

This made for some incredibly uncomfortable lockdown situations, but also gave rise to ‘doing the work’ to see our relationship grow and evolve. 

With this newfound courage to lean into our relationships, we’ll see this underpin our feeling of success in the years to come.  

4. Flexible working arrangements

Almost overnight we had travel plans abandoned, conferences cancelled and face-to-face client meetings become a thing of the past.

Simultaneously, the true superhero of 2020 emerged: Zoom. 

Within just a few months it became glaringly obvious that living in a city just wasn’t necessary to run a great business.

In fact, spending less time commuting and more time with our families often produced better work in less time.

We’ve already begun to see a flood of ‘treechangers’ and ‘seachangers’, with entrepreneurs and employees alike seeing the vast benefits of flexible work situations. 

5. Overall health and wellbeing

The big winner of 2021 in terms of how we define our success will be our overall health and wellbeing.

If 2020 showed us one thing it is the value of good health both physically and mentally.

While the pandemic continues to be a consideration in our daily lives for the months and possibly years ahead, staying well will undoubtedly underpin our overall feelings of happiness and success.


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