How Do You Define Being a Success?
Last week, I wrote a blog post about becoming over-socialized to a particular way of living and how to let go of what we think we SHOULD be doing. If you’ve engaged in that work, then you know the freedom that comes from consciously releasing a social norm or practice that doesn’t fit who you are now, whether they are norms about parenting, how you should look, or who you should be in the boardroom. One of the areas that I’ve found my clients struggle with the most, in terms of letting go of social expectations, is their idea of success.
As we redefine life as ambitious moms, it’s crucial that we redefine our personal definition of success. The dictionary defines success as, “the gaining of wealth, respect, or fame.” I talk with so many women who, particularly after having children, are waking up to the fact that this definition is not only unsatisfactory and limited, but dangerous to our well-being and self-concept.
For me, I’ve redefined success to a way of being. I’ve realized that when I’m able to reside as a kind, loving, and a compassionate person and live from that place, the world is my oyster. I find the courage to take risks in my business, to express myself fully, and to have compassion when I make mistakes. It’s an ongoing exploration, but perhaps you’re closer than you already think to being a success. Or, what I like to say, is feeling successful.
How do you define success? Better yet, what does it feel like? Let me share with you what I witnessed from a client of mine recently.
When Jennie and I started working together, here’s what success looked liked to her and how she experienced it:
- Striving all the time, filling her days with long to-do lists.
- She wore ‘master of spinning plates’ like it was a badge of honor as CEO of her house, children, and as an executive for a tech company.
- Being engaged regularly on social media, so others could feel connected to her!
- Socializing three evenings a week, so she could feel connected to her friends
- Reinforcing rules for her kids, so they grew up to be respectable adults.
Some of you might really relate to this definition. Here’s the thing: what’s at stake by having this definition? So glad you asked!
- Exhaustion from striving all day.
- Martyrdom from thinking you do everything.
- Low self-esteem from seeking and relying on approval from others to lift you up
- Constant state of anxiety
- Feeling of not enough
- Disconnection from yourself
- Steady disappointment when your kids don’t do what you want and meet your expectations
- Feeling of being stuck
So we got to work; real work. The kind of work that makes you sweat, cry, scream, and have a tantrum because it means letting go of what you know. What you think is right. What you’ve been doing all along that you’ve been told is right, even though it’s not good for you. On the other side of this work, here’s what Jennie’s new definition of success looks like:
- Expressing herself fully and not worrying about pleasing others first.
- Having compassion for herself.
- Giving herself permission to live in her truth and be creative, which meant saying NO to a profession that she had outgrown.
- Letting go of control and accepting her children for who they are, allowing her to relax and connect in a more meaningful way.
- Create more financial abundance by trusting her worthiness.
- Believing in herself enough to start a new business and having the courage to go for it!
- Having compassion for herself when she gets angry with her children and, in those painful moments, really believing she’s doing the best she can and that she is an incredible mom.
- Being more vulnerable with her husband because she’s able to connect with herself in a more intimate way and feel safe.
It’s been an honor to watch Jennie shift her beliefs about success and ultimately experience the joy and fulfillment she was craving. I want the same for you.
If any of this resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you. Please either email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below around what’s present for you. How would your world shift if you changed your definition of success?
We’re in this together. Mama to Mama. Woman to woman. Let’s support one another in experiencing the best version of ourselves.