Hi friends! So I recently returned from attending and speaking at my favorite wedding industry conference/workshop/retreat, Cultivate Retreat, and it was absolutely what I needed- perfect timing in fact! The speakers and sessions at Cultivate are a combination of inspiration, creativity, and education- the perfect combination if you ask me! This was my third time attending (and speaking at) the workshop, and each time, I’ve taking something different away from it. This time around, my takeaways were more inspirational in nature… more specifically, success and how you define it, thanks to a talk by my friend Shay Cochrane.
First, let’s preface this with a little bit of history. Some of you may know that in addition to running Every Last Detail, I recently embarked upon the journey of business ownership with my husband in opening a chiropractic practice. While the medical (and “brick and mortar”) world is way different from the wedding and web world that I’m used to, I’ve luckily been able to apply some of my existing business knowledge to the business… but I’ve also been learning a lot that can apply to any business in general too. My last post here on ELD For Pros was sharing a few of those thoughts, and today (goodness- 4 months after that post) I want to talk more specifically about the term “success” and how we view it.
I will be the first to tell you that I don’t like to sugarcoat things… and on top of that, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m the worst lier ever. (Sidenote: I recently put together a surprise birthday dinner for my mom, and I’m still quite proud of myself for pulling it off without her knowing!) I don’t know about any of you, but not being able to hide things has proven to be one of my greatest challenges as a business owner. And so part of the way that I deal with this is sharing what’s on my heart- because if I didn’t, I would feel like I’m lying by omission in some way. I’ve been criticized by my peers for being too open in the past, but I decided a long time ago to be transparent in my business, and I’m not going back on that decision. I wear my heart on my sleeve (and my face- hence the lack of the ability to “hide” things) and I’m not going to apologize for it. So with that said…
I feel like I am a failure.
A failure in business, because I’ve had to revert back to working until 2am- something that took me 3 years to STOP doing in the first place. A failure in having a home life, because my husband and I are living with my parents- because we are building our business and haven’t made a penny yet. A failure as an adult because I’m still driving the car I had in high school. A failure as a friend because I have no free time- and even so much as finding time for a phone call during the day is difficult. A failure as a woman because I don’t have children yet- because we’d like to be making money and have a home before bringing a child into the world. I feel like a failure as a 27 year old woman in general. Essentially, if someone asked me if I thought I was successful after thinking about all of these things, I would tell them no.
These things I mentioned above have been running through my mind a lot lately, but thanks to Shay’s presentation last week, I realized that they are all measures of “success” that are incorrect- because they are based on other people’s lives. And you know what else I realized? These “failures” are mostly all THINGS. Not experiences, not memories, not skills- THINGS. The quote that is below is quite fitting, and came at the most perfect time (literally- showed up in an app this morning!) because it’s a reminder that achieving goals and success isn’t about the THINGS- it’s about the experience, and who you become because of that experience.
I think it’s all too common for success to be determined in relation to what you view as others’ successes. It could be someone having a profitable business, traveling all the time, buying a house, or maybe even just getting a gazillion followers on Instagram. The list could of course go on and on… especially with all of the social media outlets we have at our fingertips today. But the thing is… you’re only seeing what people put out there (mostly good things), and then it’s all on YOU in how you see it.
So the question I have is: WHY are we using other people’s lives to determine our own success?
The problem is, I’m basing all of my apparent “failure” on what others have or where they are at in life. But if I look at things and base my success on my OWN merit and my OWN life, maybe I wouldn’t feel like a failure.
So I think it’s about time that I defined what MY success is…
MY success is having a business and career that I can do at any time of the day from anywhere in the world. MY success is being able to start a business with my husband, and be there to help him. MY success is being blessed with parents who welcome my husband and I to stay with them while we get our business up and running and pay off debt. MY success is having an old car that is still running. MY success is having friends who understand that I’m busy, and who don’t miss a beat when we are able to see each other or talk. MY success is comfort that we don’t have children to feel guilty about not seeing during this busy season of our life. MY success is that I AM a successful 27 year old woman.
I think being able to define your own success requires that you specifically do NOT compare to others- which in today’s connected world, is SO hard to avoid. However, it’s also a matter of being aware of YOU. Where you are in your life, what your goals are, and what is best for YOU. You are not the person next door… and thank goodness for that, right?