Have you ever worked towards a goal and then when you get there you realize it’s not for you? I certainly have been in this situation. As a teen, I loved creative writing. After all, I grew up with shows like News Radio, Just Shoot Me and Murphy Brown. So naturally, I went to college for journalism, took all the prerequisites, and when I finally got to take the first journalism class, I realized that I HATED it. It was not the creative career I had imagined. In journalism, this class at least, success was getting an assignment, and writing an article that pleases your editor. Some people absolutely are fantastic at this and love it. I am not one of those people.
When you feel like you don’t know what you want to do with your life, it’s easy to find yourself grasping at other people’s straws because you’ve thrown away all of your own. How did we end up with no straws? By letting other people talk us out of the things we want. There have been times in my life where I had excellent goals, but discussed these with the wrong people. These are negative people who insult your ideas, tell you what you’re imagining is impossible to achieve. They may even give you very good evidence to support their killing of your dream. These are not the people you should have in your life. But if they must remain, you can’t let that negativity make you feel like your ideas are bad. Either you fight them every step of the way as you go after your goals, or you learn to just not tell them things that are important to you. Take advice from those who have experience but also know that you are a unique person with unique experiences. Your outcome will be different than theirs. Don’t let others throw away all your straws.
So what if our definition of success isn’t based on making six figures, or having a big house, or snagging a rich husband? If I were rich I’d probably use all that money on my creative ventures and travel, leaving me cash poor anyway. But the dragon within me, the thing I struggle with most is not money management. The dragon in me that I have been battling is ENVY. This often manifests as comparing myself to other people. What have they achieved that I have not? What do they have that I do not have? We’re always comparing things that don’t equal happiness, such as money, fame, clothes, cars, etc. Envy is just negative. Envy serves no purpose but to keep us down, feeling bad about ourselves.
My envy stems from self-doubt. It’s come up a lot for me this past year because I’m dealing with some physical injuries that make it hard to do my job the way I used to. In this case I am comparing my present self to my past self, worried about how I’m going to make more money than I made in the past. No wonder I am disappointed. I am in competition with a younger, healthier version of me.
It’s time to stop defining success by our bank account, job, physical abilities, or outer appearance. Ask yourself, what do I uniquely bring to this world? Those are our innate qualities that lead to success. Those qualities are the weapons that will slay the dragons within us. I surely am still struggling to achieve success. The weapon I need to fight my envy dragon is self confidence and trust. Perhaps not to trust myself but maybe belief in some higher power that everything will work out.
I don’t know if the following is true “do what you love and the money will come”. Self-help coaches sure do love throwing that around though, in one form or another. I do know that if I put LOVE and CARE into an action or task, it will grow. I will succeed because I will be proud of my effort. If I define my own success, I will never fail.
Don’t you feel great when you do something that aligns with you truly are inside? For example, after realizing that journalism wasn’t right for me, I transferred to film school and now have a career doing various creative tasks from photography to writing scripts. It is a much better fit for me and offers the variety and creative freedom that I love. I define success as being in the moment, not 10 steps ahead. This is where I am the most joyful, creative and loving.
When creating short term and long terms goals for ourselves, let’s keep in mind what we uniquely bring to this world. That way, we are the only ones who can achieve our goals, and we will already have everything we need to succeed within us. If there’s something else we need to achieve success, that goes against our innate qualities, then it’s time to ask who’s goal is that really? Why are we striving for this? Are we setting ourselves up to fail? If we live by other people’s standards, we fail. We can never live up to another person’s dreams.
So from life coaches, to friends, to that nosy relative who insists on telling you what you should be doing with your life… Stop clinging to other people for permission to try things. It’s okay to fail or give up at something that isn’t working. It’s okay to try new things. It’s okay to change your mind. We’ve all heard before that happiness is a journey not a destination, yet we still insist on plotting out every moment of our lives, and then beat ourselves up when things don’t go according to plan. So, I think, it’s okay to not know where you’re going. Hopefully though with this blog you can achieve one or two little goals that will be authentically yours. Sweet success.
What dragon do you have to slay within yourself? How do you define success? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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