How often have you really thought about what success means to you?
As a young person, I did not think about it much, but when I did, it usually depended on the car you had, the home you lived in and the money you made. When we are younger, we rarely get asked the question, we just watched how the people around us moved, lived, and what was important to them.
As we grow up, we go after what we think success is and keep looking around the corner for happiness to just settle in. We have the house, the car, the bank account, and the 2.5 children…..Happiness/Success, where are you?! We did all of the right things, so why don’t we feel successful?
The problem with that is, we allowed someone else’s life to define what success would mean for us. We were trying to live THEIR life, not our own and now we are not fulfilled or happy with the life we have. Looking back at our model of the happy life, we didn’t question happiness/success because what we saw was “normal”. “Normal”, to us, was what our neighborhood, families, friends, and community looked like…from the outside. We learned the rules and expectations of life from what we saw, heard, or was taught in our little worlds.
Now that we are grown, we are expected to have a certain education/training and make our way in the world, look and be “normal” and that is considered success. The problem with that, for me anyway, is that there cannot be a one size fits all path toward what the world sees as success. That path may be perfect for one person, but it was not the path that I felt would make me feel successful or happy with my life. I am not good with taking someone’s rules and running with their exact game plan to live the life that they live.
Everyone has a different story. We can follow the rules to the letter and still not be happy. Your life can look good on paper and you still not feel like yourself, not successful or happy with what you have accomplished.
If you have ever felt this way, it does not mean that anything is wrong; you just thought that you were doing “the right thing”. Most of us were not taught that there was any other way to do things. Once we figure out that the path we took is not fulfilling for us, we need to do something about it;
not just continue to live a life that was not meant for us to live. What I learned that I could not continue to do was keep putting effort into something that was not working for me. That is called…wasting time!! All of that effort into what seems like a prison that you may never escape….but you’re comfortable, right?
That old way was not working so it was time for a change! I needed to sit down with myself and really give some thought to what I love doing and how it makes me feel. I wanted to create my own definition of success. What did that look like to me? What would success feel like? How would I know I was finally there? In order to know that, we have to look at what is important to us, then live our lives in a way that lines up with that definition. I mean, we really have to be deliberate about how we want to live and focus on what brings us that most value and joy.
To truly live your definition of a successful life, I don’t even think you have to change everything. Small things make a difference, one at a time. There is no wrong or right way, there is only your way. We learn along the way what lines up with our vision for our lives. We have to asked ourselves the hard questions like, what do you really want? You probably will need time to answer that so you have to be patient with yourself but you need to know in order to be truly happy. We will know we are truly happy when we feel it in our body…when we feel that rush of joy and thrill, and a real sense of freedom when we figure it out.
We have to consider all aspects of our lives when we think about being successful. We have careers and jobs, yes, but what about our relationships, personal development, spiritual growth, health, hobbies and leisure? We can’t go back but we can definitely start right where we are in order to change direction and get moving toward what success means to us.
We have a destination in mind but we have to get there somehow. Our journey is going to take us many places and we are going to discover so many things about ourselves. Where we are right now in our journey is not WHO we are. This is just one step, one part along that path. That means that there is no need to be hard on ourselves, and we do not need to quit! It’s never too late, we are not too old, or too stuck to stop and change direction to go toward a life that we can feel fulfilled in.
We may sometimes feel that the life we want will be impossible to attain, but this is a lie! We can always choose to do things differently. We all know the definition of insanity right? SO let’s not be or go insane! Small changes…it is a process and we have to practice. Let’s go…one step at a time, just keep going.