Definition of success

What is success? Merriam-Webster defines it as: a :  degree or measure of succeeding b :  favorable or desired outcome; also :  the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence. The portion I like to go with is, “favorable or desired outcome”. I find it sad our society views it more as the second part, the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence. For the longest time I was obsessed with the attainment of fame and wealth – I thought it was the ONLY way to announce I’ve made it, that anything less was failure. It drove me crazy, to the point of total burnout. I read about the lives of billionaires, high achievers, and celebrities (most recently with Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers ) and now think to myself, “Holy hell, these people are ALWAYS on!” Once I realized this, their lives looked less appealing, less glamorous, despite large amounts of wealth they have. They are always working – it doesn’t end for them. I think many people look at these individuals and say, “Must be nice to have all that money! You can do whatever you want!”. This may be true to a point, but what they fail to realize is the work that went into getting to an elite status. Lots of sacrifices were made (relationships, free time, health). And, are they really happy, truly fulfilled? A few may be, but I wonder if it’s true for the rest of them. So, again, what is success?

Taking it as a favorable or desired outcome, success to me is financial security (check!); abundant good health and wellness (check!); the ability to travel often (check!); a loving husband (check!); and a few good friends to share my life with (check!). Long term, it’s financial freedom – to do what I want, when I want. In realizing these things, success wasn’t then necessarily tied to being famous (for whatever reason I thought this to be true at one point), nor being a billionaire. And most importantly, it wasn’t tied to me being a full-time artist or entrepreneur. In fact, trying to do either one of these things (the full-time art or doing a mindfulness/meditation business) right now would be far more painful than enjoyable. At 45, I’m very close to that financial freedom I’ve always wanted. It took some time and planning, but it’s a goal I have in common with the hubby so we’re both working hard towards it, together. This, in and of itself, is a beautiful thing. Because what I’ve also found out over the years – working hard towards a personal goal (sacrificing time and relationships) is painful. While this may not be true for some, for me it was an eye-opener. I had to come to a point where I needed to ask myself, “What’s more important? A personal goal with many sacrifices or cherishing the love and life you currently have?” I struggled for a while with it – I felt like I was a quitter. But, the things I love to do – art, meditation, fitness, animals – are always with me. They’re not going anywhere. To pursue one as a career change, with no indication of absolute success, just no longer made sense (this to, is after having tried to, in the past, publish a novel and start a t-shirt company, both without society’s definition of success). Nor, frankly, do I have the energy to do so anymore. My mental well-being is far more important these days.

Granted, some days at the day job are painful. My mind never shuts off, and I get bored easily. But with the new year, I plan to pursue new opportunities with my current employer while aiming for the early retirement. Sooner, rather than later. And all the while, art will be made, and mindfulness achieved.

Me, every day, someday soon! (Photo credit: haveseen/Fotolia) 

Success is subjective – remember this. Be grateful for what you have now to allow for more to come your way. Do not compare yourself to others – compare yourself to what you did yesterday.

Peace, love, happiness, and harmony always………….. Jen

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