Most of us strive to become happy and successful. We often think that in order to be happy we must be successful. Unfortunately, society has established parameters around what it means to be successful. With the growth of social media, we now have more insight into the lives of celebrities and influencers who paint a picture of living their best lives in expensive cars, going on luxurious vacations, waking up in multi million dollar homes. We see it all the time. There are several entrepreneurial blogs and pages online that feature some guy standing in front of a private jet and in the distance is his plum crazy purple Ferrari. (that’s an actual paint color name) I find myself being put off by that because I for one do not have the slightest longing for the fancy car or the private jet yet does this mean that I will never be successful. This type of propaganda has created more of a desire to live within a specific lifestyle and associate that lifestyle with being successful and happiness. Is it though? Who defines your happiness? Was it defined during your formative years when your parents told you that you needed to become a lawyer or doctor in order to be successful? Now there is nothing wrong with either of those careers, clearly. However, many of us do not achieve that and yet does that make us unsuccessful or unhappy?
I was inspired this week by a conversation, all be it a heated one, I was having with my teenage daughter who is extremely brilliant and strong but like most teenagers has not found her desire to maximize her potential. I drive that in her because as a parent I feel it is my obligation to ensure that she has all the tools and to meet her potential and guide her accordingly. Do I care if she is not going to be a doctor, lawyer, or a nuclear physicist? Nope, not at all. What I do care about is that she realizes her potential as many of us fail to do so because we are steered down the “right path” and forget to realize that success does not equal happiness but in turn happiness equals success.
When it comes to my teenager, I carry fear that she will settle for things in life to be comfortable as that is the natural path instead of finding what she is good at, what makes her heart sing, or what her talent is to live her best life doing that. I have lived my life working towards that “right path” to success and 43 years later I am just starting to come into my own. I have regrets of course as I look back to the last 25 years and think what if….. However, I also do not wish for my past to have been different because it has made me who I am by overcoming so many challenges and that is part of my success. As I look around me I see that I have many accomplishments which I am proud of. I have two beautiful children, two degrees, beat Cancer, acquired a beautiful home on my own as a single mother, I have a healthy salary and feel valued at work, and lastly I am in a healthy and loving relationship. But does that make me successful? From the outside looking in, people tell me all the time “you are so successful”. While I do not take any of that for granted, my definition of success is quite different. I define success as being truly happy. Being able to wake up every morning with purpose and end every day with a sense of fulfillment. How many of us can say that? How many of us can truly say that they feel fulfilled in their day? If you can then you are in a small group of individuals and more power to you. However, for the rest of us, that may be a more difficult question to answer. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day routine or race to achieve success. However in doing so we forget to be be true to ourselves most often and fail to stay in tune with what makes us happy. Therefore, what good are all of the material possessions if we forget to enjoy them, or if we work just to be able to keep them? I can say that I am on my way to finding my true success. It’s a tough road and it will not be lined with champagne wishes and caviar dream (loved Robin Leach) but it will result in me living to my fullest potential and finding what makes my heart sing.
In on of my recent posts I mentioned finding your 4%. How successful are you if you are so busy that you cannot find your 4%. 4% of your day which equals 1 hour a day spent for yourself doing what you enjoy. Doing what fulfills you. Doing what inspires you or what gives you purpose or peace. Are you truly successful if you cannot afford to give up that 4% and live your maximum potential? For those of you reading this, you are most likely on your own journey of discovery. I urge you to make sure that the journey you are on is your own and you embark with vigor and tenacity instead of traveling towards an idea of success that someone else has defined for you. Look around to what you have achieved and take it in. From the smallest measure to the grandest of accomplishments, if it brings YOU joy then that is a measure of success. If it brings you anxiety or stress or more work to keep that to free yourself from it then it’s a facade for others to judge your level of success. Live for your own definition of success my Ambition Freaks not anyone else’s.