I had an ‘epiphany’ whilst I was away on Shaa Wasmund’s One Retreat. On our first evening part of our ‘homework’ was to articulate what success looks like for us.
Now, I was a little disappointed at first – this was an ‘easy’ task for me because I’ve done a lot of work on redefining ‘success’ for myself in the years since I burned out.
I knew that part of what had led to that burn out was trying to be something I wasn’t, holding up a false image of what would ‘show’ I was successful and constantly falling short of my own, and other people’s expectations, with the result that my self-esteem crashed and I became frustrated, bitter, powerless, feeling like I wasn’t doing anything well in any aspect or role; career, wife, mother, daughter, human being.
Over the years since then I’ve become clear that for me success has to be a balanced, ‘integrated’ life; I’d even developed performance indicators in my business to reflect the amount of time with the family, development opportunities for me and my own sense of wellbeing.
So I thought for this homework task on the retreat I would simply reflect back what success feels like in each of my life areas (eg being present and able to listen to my children, sharing in their journey).
However I woke in the night with the realisation that even this was just a representation of the ‘symptoms’ of success, and actually the definition is very simple; it all boils down to one thing – that I feel enough.
When I worry about money – it’s because I fear I’m not good enough. When I hear of other people’s incredible career and business achievements – I can fear I’m not good enough to do the same. When I feel ashamed that our 11 year old car is falling apart, yet we don’t have the cash to replace it – I can worry that I’m inadequate, a ‘successful’ person would have a lovely car. When my looks, my parenting, my house, my marriage, my writing don’t stack up to some fantasy of how they ‘should’ be – it all comes back to the fear that I’m not good enough.
And this is why even those people whom as a society we would define as being successful and who ‘have it all’ can be still so unhappy, dissatisfied, still driven for more and more – they are relentlessly seeking something to prove to themselves that they are good enough.
So it’s clear to me now that success, for me, is knowing with every ounce of my body and soul that I am enough.
It doesn’t matter about the car, the house, the clothes, the holiday, the money, the kids achievements or any other external factor.
What matters is knowing that I am enough, and that I can bring all of myself, the full truth of who I am. Success is not ‘out there’, it’s in here.
And although around the edges I may still have a little work to do – I still catch the doubts and the fears raising their heads, and others may parade their ‘symbols of success’ that I do not possess, inside I know I am successful, just because I am enough.