How do you know when you’ve won? It depends on the game you’ve chosen to play, and how you define “win.”

Some people play this game for $200 or 300 a month, just a little “mad money.” Some play for recognition or to play leader. Some play to change the world or build an empire. Some play because they want to do something they love. Some play because they hated the game they were playing before!

Here are two of my favorite games.

1. Getting Better At a Skill. For example, making cold calls. Winning might mean increasing the number of calls one can do per hour, or increasing the number of people who express interest in one’s thing. It’s fun to play against oneself several weeks in a row, or to play cross-line.

2. Loving Work. Making a living by doing something I love is a big win for me. I have a “happy meter” in my head that rates how much I’m loving my work on any given day. The higher the Happy score, the bigger the win—even if financial goals aren’t met.

Doing something I don’t like (or even hate)—that’s losing. With so little time on our planet, why stay unhappy in a situation that can be changed? That’s losing a little bit every day.

Have you noticed that happy people tend not to do bad things to others?

A woman therapist who was falsely accused of a murder won acquittal when a doctor witness noted that she was very happy at the exact time of the murder. She could not have been the killer, since happy people do not kill others. The more our business makes us happy, the better the game of life is, for us and for all those whose lives we touch. That’s a win.

One of my favorite sayings is, “There is no finish line.” The man I heard it from (I think it was the founder of Nike®) reveled in the fact that there were problems he had not yet solved, obstacles he had not yet overcome, and that each time he gained on one or another challenge, an even bigger opportunity presented itself to him, which he then went after with relish and excitement. He loved what he did and was undoubtedly grateful there would be no finish line for his game. It gave him something bigger than he was, to achieve every day of his life. Something to look forward to. That’s a win.

So ask yourself: When you do your networking business, what game would you like to play? The money game?

The skill game? The love-my-work game? You decide—and then you’ll know when you’ve won.

KIM KLAVER is a renowned networking trainer and author,
and is a member of the faculty of Networking University.