If you haven’t read the book ‘The Art of Possibility’ yet, give yourself a gift and grab a copy. This short and uplifting read continues to expand my definition about what’s possible for me, my life, and for those around me.
I’ve always been my own worst critic. I got straight As in school and was that kid that always had her homework done plus the extra credit. I was that kid in class that was the first to raise their hand and was called “teacher’s pet.” All that positive reinforcement confimed my belief that in order to be successful I had to be the best (at everything) and hold myself to a really high standard. Sound familiar? Or maybe you were the kid that resented the kid like me because you were barely making a C and struggled with the homework despite your best efforts. Either way, we all developed our definitions of success somewhere along the way.
Somewhere along my path, I developed a pseudo truth (but didn’t know it at the time) I was living by: perfection = success. The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist. What a shocker. But here I am in my late 30s and just really tuned into this. Of course Iknew that it didn’t exist, but every fiber in my being believed it. So after years of trying to be perfect or as close to it as possible, I read the ‘Art of Possibility’ and was hit in the face with the notion that the definitions of success I’d been living by my whole life are… made up. That’s right, all made up. I know what some of you may be thinking – of course it isn’t made up. This is how our schools, jobs, society.. everything is structured. Being ahead of the game, getting good grades, going to college, making lots of money, having a nice car, getting married, having kids – this is what success looks like, right? It turns out there are as many meanings of success as there are people in this world. To you, success may be having a high paying job, having a fulfillig job, having a loving family, running a 5K, becoming a successful writer…The point is that whatever succcess means to us, we have created that meaning. So think about your definition of success now and complete this sentence: I am successful because I _______________________. Does it resonate fully? Is it someone else’s definition of success? Is it yours? If not, image what your life would be like if you, and only you, defined what that meant. How would your days be different? How would you feel about yourself? What possibilities could you imagine for yourself with this new definition?
For me, a gigantic weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I sure wish I hadn’t waited so long to start living by my own definitions. The truth is that our society makes it really easy to fall into this trap. I live my life now fully by my rules. When I notice myself becoming anxious, I stop myself and think about whose standards I’m trying to live up to. If something doesn’t feel true to who I am, I don’t do it. I seek out the things that make me happy and new ways of being that support my best self. To me, success equals… happy days filled with connection, growth, and activities that make my heart sing. Now, your turn!
Until next time,