What Success Looks Like

I’ve always known that the definition of success is different for everyone.

What I didn’t know was that my own definition of success would change over time - depending on the life stage, the circumstances, and the priorities that follow.

Now I work on reminding myself that every minute of every day I get to choose what success looks like for me.

Today? It looks like being sprawled across the bed, cheek buried into arm, silently tapping out a draft on my phone.

Why? Because I know the demons I dealt with to get to this point - the procrastination, the fear, and the faux-busyness that threatened to take me out the game of creating altogether.

Starting a draft is small, but the feat of slaying those existential dragons is not. Calling this a “success” is part of a larger narrative I’m learning to live by:

Success looks like progress,

Success is sustained effort,

Success looks like slowing down, but never stopping.

These self-sustaining definitions of success keep me focused on the process instead of the result. Admittedly they’re not the sexiest, but certainly healthier than the alternative.

There’s a daily deluge of messaging out there scamming us all into thinking we’re a little less worthy for not being on some 30 under 30 list, winning a high-profile prize, or writing a bestseller. And that’s not cool.

If we put blood, sweat, and tears into a thing only to discover that the fruits of our labor don’t exactly taste how we imagined, we need to know that it’s okay.

What’s that? You didn’t blow up overnight? 10,000 hours weren’t enough? Mo’ money, mo’ problems?

The started-from-the-bottom success stories which we were so convinced could be ours may be possible, but none of them are guaranteed. Some of them aren’t even true. 99.9% of them are just not our stories.

For my own peace-of-mind, I’m working on unhooking myself from oppressive definitions of success that are no longer realistic or relevant.

I still dream and I still work. I still miss my old ways and mourn the feeling of a very certain fulfillment that was just beyond reach.

The difference now is that I’m making room for the next iteration, the next episode, my next definition of success.