When I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to be someone.
I would spend countless hours dreaming about the day I would become a famous lawyer, a well-renowned psychologist, a popular fitness model and yes even the President of the United States.
Clearly, I had high aspirations.
I wanted to be a success in the worst way. Truthfully, I wanted people to know my name.
Fast forward 20+ years, I didn’t fulfill any of those career paths.
Being a lawyer or the President didn’t excite me at all. I hate talking politics and learning a bunch of laws…boring. And seriously, although I like being the boss (and being bossy), having people blame me for all the world’s problems…NO thank you. I’ll pass.
Being a psychologist could have been an option. I did get my Bachelors in Psychology, but about a month before grad school started…I up and changed my mind.
All the protocols, procedures, and rules made me feel stifled. Not only that…I have a hard time holding space for people who like to wallow in victim mode. I kept imagining working on the 10th floor of a high rise listening to someone whine on and on and on…let’s just say it’s a good thing those windows don’t open.
As for being a fitness model…I did work in the wellness industry. As a prior successful personal trainer and certified nutritionist, I certainly could have attempted that path but I like wine and food too much. Being so disciplined and rigid also scared me (especially since I was an anorexic teenager). But you never know. I may grace a cover or two yet.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because up until a few years ago…I thought what I did for a living determined my success.
I thought that “title” was my golden ticket. And my bank account would be the proof I needed to finally say, “You made it kid!”
What a crock of shit!
The Day That Changed Everything
I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was on the phone with my mentor crying…essentially feeling sorry for myself. (It’s a long story but after enduring a rather heartbreaking financial disaster, crappy days are expected.)
His advice: “Go spend some time in nature.”
I agreed reluctantly. Thinking, “What the hell is that going to do for me?”
But there I was, freezing my ass off, sitting on a rock in the middle of the lake, re-examining my existence.
When it hit me.
Success for me isn’t about a title, my career choice, the amount of money in my bank account or where I live, what I have or what I may or may not acquire.
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I was stunned. And frozen.
Either way, I remember letting out a huge sigh. (If you’ve ever taken yoga class, you know this “noise,” this breath.)
It was refreshing. And a bit scary.
Because I had no idea what success meant to me.
And rather than trying to define it or force it, I spent the next three years waiting for a sign.
Two Weeks Ago
Two weeks ago, I was re-reading one of my favorite business books and stumbled across a quote by Steve Jobs. I’ve read this several times but this time the impact it made was visceral.
He said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart, and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
YES!!! Double, Triple, Quadruple YES!
So in studious fashion, I took out a sheet of paper and started writing. Answering the age-old question, “What does success look like for me?”
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And what I wrote not only shocked me but made me cry.
I’m not going to share the whole document with you but here are some snippets.
Success for me is…
- being the most patient mother, always taking the time to see the world through Grayson’s eyes.
- being a jack (or Jane) of all trades. I excel in many things and will never allow myself to feel like I’m being stuffed into a box.
- always being open, honest, and truthful to everyone I love, no matter what.
- smiling even when I’m crying, knowing that whatever made me sad, will pass with time.
- treating my clients like friends because, at the end of the day, we are all humans having a human experience.
- sharing my knowledge with those who need it because a giving heart is eventually rewarded.
- allowing myself and my business to be multi-faceted, even though a singular focus is recommended.
I wrote two full pages. And not one of my statements had anything to do with the house I lived in, the car I drove, the amount of money in my bank account.
Now don’t get me wrong…I love nice things. I want to be able to make a good living and provide for my family but my priorities that determine my version of success have nothing to do with that.
So, now it’s your turn. How do you define success? Go on, grab a sheet of paper. Your answers just might surprise you.