My business is dedicated to helping you figure out your definition of success. Why? Because getting really fucking clear on your definition of success is insanely useful. You know what and where to aim, and you can celebrate your own path instead of continually comparing yourself to someone else or getting sidetracked by the next shiny object.
Obviously, in my own life, I try my very hardest to practice what I preach.
I’m teaching action planning? Then I’m implementing my own action plans. I’m coaching about expanding your social circle to find the true friendships that you crave? Then I’m doing it in my own life as well. I’m writing about falling head over heels in love with yourself? Then you better believe I’m blowing myself kisses and shimmying in the mirror to admire my rockin’ moves.
In that spirit, I want to share a two very specific examples of how my own definition of success has supported me in times of trial. Yes, babelicious, this is the trick to saving your own life.
Story One (The Relationship One)
One year ago, I was spending Thanksgiving with one of my bff’s and her fiance at her parent’s house on the coast near the Canadian border. I was laying low, taking care of my tender ego, and trusting my heart with all that I had. The key question here is: Why wasn’t I with the Big Man?
The short version is that I was giving him space to figure out his version of his best life. We had been together for over 4 years when he told me that he wasn’t sure if kids were in his future… The hardest part? Kids were definitely in MY future and I had never been quiet about that point. Having those little people, building a family, and being a mom have always been major players in my definition of success.
The Big Man and I had hit the largest bump in our relationship.
Having kids were one thing that I wasn’t willing to give up or leave to a maybe… But I also realized that if they weren’t part of his best life, there was no way I could force it. What good did that do us? And I really wanted him to live the life he wanted for himself, even if that didn’t include children or me for that matter. People asked me if I was making the right choice — should I really put a desire for children before this man that I loved?
I understood the point they were trying to make.
The Big Man and I had an amazing relationship. We really supported each other in our desired lifestyle and crazy traveling habits and freedom seeking vibe. We made each other laugh, stood up for one another, and worked hard at making things work. But kids were in my definitely in my version of success and he wasn’t quite sure. Stalemate.
I moved out for a couple of months in 2009, giving him time and space to figure out what he wanted.
I was so certain that my best version of my life included a family that the decision to leave was hard, but also very clear. And I wanted to make sure that he was making the right decisions for himself. So, in-the-throes-of-unannounced-sobbing and my-whole-life-is-falling-apart-answers-to-how-are-you-doing-questions mode, I spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas apart from the Big Man. I slept on an air mattress at my sister’s house (thank you to all her amazing roomies). I cried, and journaled, and asked the Universe if I was doing the right thing.
Deep down, I knew that I was doing what I had to do for myself. And that I needed to allow him to do what he needed to do. That certainty was freeing and saved me from all the second guessing and regret that tends to come major decisions like the one that I had made.
Obviously, there is a happy ending to this story. I’m not going to pretend to know the work or prayers or therapy that Big Man went though to uncover his choices, but we got engaged last January and married in August, and are now traveling around the country on our very extended honeymoon. I imagine, once we settle down somewhere, it will be just about time to get down to the baby-making business!
My definition of success was my rock. All the work I had done to get clear about my desires and place in the world made “trusting my gut” and “standing up for myself” possible.
Story Two (The Lifestyle One)
For those of you who know me in real life, you know that this trip has been an interesting experience for me… I’m living out of my car, staying in guestrooms, arriving in cities without knowing where we are sleeping, eating way too much crap on the road, having amazing adventures, driving and biking and walking a lot, and trying my very best to grow this amazing business I love so I can serve more women who need me.
For those of you who know me ever better, you know I’m a planner at heart. To be this free-spirited and free-wheeling actually takes quite a bit of concentrated effort on my part. I am getting a daily dose of staying in the moment practice, instead of obsessing about my future.
After a month on the road, I stared pining to go home. I wanted to wake up and meditate. I wanted to drink green smoothies. I wanted to work my butt off on my Fierce Love product and guest blog for million cool people and form lucrative partnerships and figure out how to reach all those 20somethings who need me. I wanted to be have a plan and be able to execute it without the daily concerns of “Where are we going to eat? Where are we going to sleep? What do you what to do today versus what do I need to get done?”
Basically, I started freaking out. I wanted more control… And then, after two super inspiring pump me up conferences for women entrepreneurs, I REALLY wanted to go home.
It was time to conquer the world! It was time to monetize like crazy! It was time emerge as a mix of all my heroines and kick some ass and beef up my writing skills and starting volunteering for hospice and decorate my new home and have imaginative hot sex with my husband and get in ridiculous shape and… And…
Yes. I was falling under that trap of “I’ll be happy when…” story. You’d think I would know better, eh?
Luckily, I have a partner who reminds me of my own bigger picture when I lose my vision. And I have amazing friends who remind me to enjoy this special honeymoon and the freedom I’ve created in my life thus far to be able to do it. And I have wise mentors who remind me I’m literally living out a huge dream of mine to be location independent, to make friends all over the country who share my thirst for a (slightly) unconventional life, to travel with my husband collecting memories, and still be able to work on my passion-fueled business.
And my clients? They are the best reminder of all. As we create their definition of success together, I am forced to revisit mine.
A few weeks ago, I was losing touch with my own definition of what it means to be successful. When I started admitting it, I was forcibly reminded by those around me that my goal isn’t to lead an easy life. My goal isn’t to have a suburban home and a steady paycheck and a closet full of wrap dresses. My goal isn’t to exert control of every situation so that I can operate comfortably. My goal isn’t to be scared of challenges or to shrink back from adventure.
My definition of success is to live an extraordinary life. And part of that adventure is being open to new experiences, to live in the moment, and to really celebrate life!
After a week of processing and revisiting my big goals and dreams, I’ve realized I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. What I need to be doing… I’m building a business that supports and inspires women to rock their own lives. I’m building a relationship that is open to exploration and personal growth and learning through experiences. I’m checking off my Lifetime List NOW instead of waiting for someday.
Though it took a little prodding by others, I was able to save my own life by returning to my personal definition of success.
The Wrap Up
Actions items? Do whatever it takes to get really, really clear on what success looks like for YOU. Hire a coach. Take a bunch of inspiring eCourses. (Say, for example, the still awesome Joy Equation!) Go on retreat with nothing but a journal and your favorite pen. Talk it out. Map it out. Cover your walls with vision boards. Study warrior role models. Surround yourself with like-minded folk.
Define success in your words, in your way. It’s a lifesaving tool.
**Question I know is coming: Of course your definition of success will shift and change as you grow and experience new things and discover new truths. That doesn’t mean you should spend time really diving into it now. Create it, capture it, and return to it whenever you feel lost, confused, or overwhelmed by the need to make decisions.