What's your definition of "success"?
If all your dreams had already come true, what would be different for you? Whatever “success” means to you, if you were already there and living in total alignment, what would you feel? What would be possible? What would you be ready to let go of?
What did you just learn?
Society’s traditional definitions of success tend to be about money, job titles, corner offices, big houses, fancy cars, all the STUFF. Have you found yourself on the hamster wheel working for those things because you’re “supposed” to? Have you burned yourself out to achieve those things and then wondered why you still weren’t happy? Have you fallen short of those things, compared yourself to others, and beaten yourself up for being “behind” or “less than” or somehow broken?
All that pain and anguish comes from allowing someone else to define your success. It comes from allowing others to define your worth. It comes from working so hard to fit into someone else’s box that you’re living out of alignment with who you really are.
Guess what. You get to define what success means to you. What it looks like. What it feels like. What it sounds like. You have the final word on your own self-worth.
Today I gently encourage you to take a deep breath. Relax. You are not behind. You are not late for anything. Today I invite you to reconnect with the essence of true success. Let go of the need to prove yourself to anyone, including yourself.
You are valuable because you exist.
Let’s dispel the notion that there’s one right path that will get us somewhere called success. We tend to believe that there are prescribed steps and if we just figure out what they are and then do them in order, we’ll get it “right.”
The key thing I’ve learned about true success is that it’s already here. It’s already accessible. There’s nowhere to “get.”
Let that sink in. It’s a paradigm shift away from the success we’ve been conditioned to chase after, the success that’s always somewhere out there in the future.
True success is here now, and in the future, and it’s been with you all through your past. It doesn’t require a change in your bank account, your body size or shape, your relationship status, or any other external metrics.
One of the biggest blocks to fulfilling our dreams is the dysfunctional belief that we aren’t worthy until we somehow get somewhere else. The pressure we put on ourselves to fulfill a massively long list of internal and external expectations is the #1 saboteur of our being able to fulfill that list.
Accepting that we are already successful relieves that pressure. It opens up space for our true creativity to emerge.
It might seem like this is a superficial hack to get to success faster. But that’s still old paradigm thinking. Allowing ourselves to feel successful today can revolutionize what we allow onto our list in the first place.
I’ll ask again.
If nothing was in your way, and if you really knew and believed you were already successful, what would be different? What would you feel? What would be possible? What would you be ready to let go of?
A couple of weeks ago I shared this photo and reflection on “Potential” with my community. It’s so relevant and timely to this topic I wanted to share it here also:
We are all in a precious stage of life. Like a baby bird just beginning to grow into the potential foreshadowed by its huge feet, we all have the potential to grow into the fullest expression of who we are. At each stage, we’re not behind, broken, or in need of fixing. Growing into your potential doesn’t mean you’re not already whole. It simply means there’s even more beauty to come as each worldly, embodied, and spiritual experience adds to the totality you’ve already collected. Every day offers the potential for growth, learning, and exploration. Don’t rush the process or discount the stage you’re in now. You can’t grow unless you live here and now first. Let curiosity and wonder for this present moment shape what comes next. Let yourself expand into your infinite potential.
The paradox of success...
You might wonder: if we're already successful, what inspires us to set goals for the future?
I don’t believe this is a true paradox. I believe both can exist simultaneously. We can feel successful today and feel inspired for the future. We are not here to stagnate. We're here to expand our capacity to experience the fullness of life.
Feeling successful today doesn't rob us of future dreams and goals. It helps us choose the most aligned dreams and goals. It helps us expand the story of who we are and contribute most powerfully to the story of humanity. When we don’t hinge our happiness and life satisfaction on some future event or state of being, we allow our current happiness and life satisfaction to create our future state of being.
Is this easier said than done? Of course. Like so many things, it takes practice. Do I get sucked into the age-old struggle with time and to-do lists? Yes. Do I get frustrated about that and then get frustrated about being frustrated? Yes. (Just ask my husband… ;)
Do I pick myself up, forgive myself, and reconnect to my faith in the universe? Yes. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Most often with support from loved ones, trusted sources of inspiration, and my journal.
A key part of resilience comes from learning what practices and rituals nourish us in the times when we wobble. What supports you in remembering who you really are? Is it a walk in nature? A quiet cup of tea? A creative project? A buzzing coffee shop? A solitary venture? A gathering of friends? Cultivating gratitude?
Don’t panic if you suddenly feel like you’ve been chasing the “wrong” version of success. If you’re been striving for a kind of success that no longer works for you, it doesn’t mean you were wrong to start there. Your earlier visions of success had a purpose. They brought you to where you are. Accept them and thank them. (For more on this idea, check out the article I wrote in 2017, A Gratitude Letter to My Astronaut Dream. You can also find that gratitude letter in my book, Running the World: Marathon Memoirs from the Seven Continents.)
Your dreams are a beautiful part of you, even if they’ve evolved or you’re following them in a way you never expected.
What does success really mean to you?
Write (or paint, or draw, or collage, or create in any way you choose) your definition of true success. Remember to consider:
How do you want to feel?
Is it achievable today?
Does it require external factors to change?
If it's not already true, it's not true success!
Does it inspire you for the future?
Sleep on this. Let it percolate. Revisit it. Refine it. Experiment with it. Play with it. Have fun with it. Especially if “fun” is anywhere in your definition!
Experience the difference. Even if nothing changes immediately in your outer reality, shifting how you perceive yourself in relation to your success can dramatically shift your energy. It can lighten your load. It can create more options and opportunities. It can create space for you to remember who you are.
Live as if all your dreams have already come true. In a very real sense, they have. You are the miracle your dreams have been waiting for.
Live your dream.