Greetings from the land of leftovers! Last week's mad dash to complete my pre-turkey day To Do List combined with really spotty internet due to an in house phone line simply made it easier to stay away. I'm sure you all had your own family plans to keep you occupied as well. Now that we are all back and have revived from our tryptophan induced laziness, I thought I might babble for a minute or two about success. Great word, isn't it? Success! It just makes you want to stand straighter and hold your head high. Maybe you'll even strut a little. That's okay, you're allowed. Success will do that to a person.
So, what is success? My 1989 (yes, you read that right) Webster's Dictionary says that success is a noun that means "Issue; favorable result; good fortune;prosperity; something that succeeds." Sounds pretty straight forward, right? So, why does it seem so elusive sometimes? Why does it always feel like we are chasing it instead of standing on the winner's podium? I've got a two fold theory with an added "yeah, but". I now share it with you.
Part 1: You have to know what is successful to you on a personal level. Trust me, this list is NOT the same as your sister's definition. It is DIFFERENT than your neighbor's notion. There may be others in the world with similar ideas about what they deem successful in their own lives, but your personal criteria are just that: Personal. There is no one-size-fits-all definition of WHAT is successful. So, first, you need to really put some thought into where your own finish line and winner's circle are located. If your heart sees success as a toy cluttered house filled with music, stop chasing after the dream of being on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. That is not your dream. It is not your goal. You will not feel successful if you win the photo shoot. Let someone else chase that one and instead find a new musician to introduce your munchkins to while they have amazing adventures in your obstacle course of a living room. The same can be said in reverse with no less conviction or satisfaction. As long as it is YOUR goal, you can succeed. DO NOT let others define your success for you. Trust me, that coffee mug will feel like the biggest trophy in the world when it hits you that you have accomplished exactly what you feel is important.
Part 2: Stop undermining yourself. We are ALWAYS our biggest enemy. ALWAYS. (Did I say that loud enough?) If you are allowing people into your life who are bad for your goals, it is not their fault that they keep you from success. If you allow yourself to be diverted from your path by other things, you took the step away. If you don't stomp down on your inner critic and prove it wrong, you are the one listening to the wrong thoughts. Take a big breath. Get your goal in focus. Now take the next step. You are allowed to grumble if you need to, but you are NOT allowed to let that grumbling get in the way of your future happiness.
Yeah, but...: You are not ALWAYS going to reach your goal. You are not ALWAYS going to win. You are not always supposed to be successful. It's okay! Falling short is important. Failing is necessary. These are the times that you learn the most about accomplishing your next goal. Success that remains out of reach builds our determination. (I'm about to make some parents out there upset. Be warned.) Teach your children that it is okay to not win at everything. Don't let them beat you at checkers all the time. Let them have the satisfaction of winning a ribbon for effort, but don't just give them one for being there. Make them work for their grades. Exercise their minds. Let them figure it out. Let them get the cookie recipes wrong, or miss points on that essay because it was obvious that they just put words on paper without thought. This is how we all learn. This is how we all grow. This is how we all succeed in becoming BETTER even as we fail.
I am a perfect example of all of this. You are a perfect example as well. Take a few minutes to see where your goals lie. What defines success for you? Are you heading in the right direction? If not, reroute so you get around your own road blocks. If you have tried your best and worked your hardest but still can't seem to get there, hold your head up and file the lessons away for next time. Then, lick your wounds, square your shoulders, and go be magnificent!