Today, I am redefining success. It is time for us to eschew other’s notions of success in favor of one that actually works for us and helps us be our best selves.
Over the past few years, but especially over the past few months of dealing with infertility, I have worked hard to redefine success and what success means to me in my life. And then Megan discussed her own tension with success yesterday on her blog, and it got me thinking again about getting my thoughts out there.
We live in a world that is so freaking focused on the RESULT. Long ago, I wrote a post that really asked you all to help me answer the question of what is more important, intention or outcome, and it really dug up a lot of emotions and controversy, even in the relatively nascent stages of my blog at the time.
I also realized that I have another post right up this very alley that I wrote last summer… and never published. Maybe that one will come out to play soon as well.
Instagram likes? Page views? Pinterest hits? Hourly wage? Yearly salary? Client specs? Pounds lost? Dress size? Marathon or 5k time? Percentage tip? Heck, even sexual partners?
NUMBERS NUMBERS NUMBERS
People commenting on your appearance. Getting an A+ on a test. People agreeing with your comment.
APPROVAL APPROVAL APPROVAL
Retweets. Shout outs. Link Loves. Features.
EXPOSURE EXPOSURE EXPOSURE
Obviously, this is a bit more from my own life lens, but I tried to broaden it a bit.
Growing up, I always pictured myself at 29 as a successful businesswoman who was taking over the world. As a child, people always said, “Oh, we don’t have to worry about Susie.” Meaning, there was no way that I wasn’t going to be successful. I was going to make money monAY and be in a position of power. I was going to make friends and influence people. When I went to college and did well for myself and then I went to an Ivy League for graduate school and did well for myself…
and then I couldn’t find the job. And my idea of success came crashing down.
I’ve spoken ad nauseum on my notion of regret, my guilt for not being able to “make it” before, and about trying to find my path (seriously, too many posts to even link to but the Tough Talk page and searching the Category Tough Talk probably will give you an idea).
A New Perspective for Redefining Success
Fast forward many years, disappointments and triumphs later, and I started training for a marathon, and learned that success isn’t necessarily something that can be quantified. Yes, I had some great success in my races, but I also had some major upsets. But these disappointments and triumphs (notice, not talking successes and failures), they taught me so much (one of my favorite posts), and they helped me find a whole new perspective on my life and how I define success.
Now? We are talking infertility. And success within infertility. Traditionally, infertility success = baby growing in your uterus and then baby at the end.
For me, infertility success is all within the small steps along the way. Unlike my professional life, in running and infertility, I find success in the little moments when my body surprises me. And I think that is the weird power of doing things that you never thought that possible is what allows success to be a daily occurrence.
That whole living beyond expectations gambit. (What a racket).
You never feel successful until you meet the expectation of where you thought you would get, and you (at least by my observation) never feel happy until you surpass those expectations.
As a result, I constantly felt unhappy and unsuccessfully professionally, and that pervaded my personal life and blinded me to all of the successes that could be found there. (I’m not going to go through those in the interest of not seeming like a complete narcissist and utterly horrific human being).
FAAASST forward to the past 12 months of dealing directly with infertility, anxiety, and depression. The past 12 months have been horrific at times, but they have also helped me realize that success TRULY is how you define it. YOU control success.
YOU DEFINE SUCCESS.
When it comes to my infertility, success equals:
- making it through any and every day with hope and love.
- discovering that my body isn’t as useless as we thought it was (ie making it to the next step, however small)
- keeping my head when the chips are down.
- my greatest success so far was actually that moment of stillness that I had just a few weeks ago when I realized that no matter what, I will be ok.
- receiving the comments and emails from all of you that I know and love but also receiving messages from people who I have never known thanking me for working to reduce the stigma or offering me messages of support.
Right now? I am not holding a baby in my arms. I do not have a baby bump. But I have not failed. I have succeeded in my infertility journey thus far. The only way that I will “fail” is to give up on having a family or to give up on myself.
How to Redefine Success
I have a couple of strategies that have served me well in redefining success for myself:
- Shrink the scope of observation: instead of looking at the “obituary” view, look at your life’s parts, acts, scenes.
- Re-conceptualize the components of your life: We are complex human beings leading complex lives; so break break break it down. Go from the outside into the details, then rebuild with a new understanding of your strengths. Re-enforce those strengths!
- Look for the triumphs of everyday life. You checked 3 things off your to do list? TODAY IS A SUCCESS! Because guess what–you probably didn’t need to do the rest of it anyway!
- Think about your life’s pursuits as things that you never thought would be possible. That way, every day is your personal distance record! Basically, don’t make any assumptions as to what you are “supposed” to achieve in life.
- Simple and sweet: Practice Gratitude. Whenever you can.
- Don’t listen when someone else defines success for you. That takes your power away, and that is not their right!
I hope that this helps!It is time to redefine success. Join Suz and find a new perspective! #gratitude #sweatpink #mentalhealth Click To Tweet
Have you ever struggled with the notion of success in your life?
Does your current understanding of success differ from your earlier understanding?
Tell me a recent success!
Joining Amanda for Thinking Out Loud