My dear friend is at a bit of an impasse, I sat on the train home from work and listened to her talk about her hopes and dreams, and that in so many ways she feels like she is failing at life.
My heart felt heavy.
This beautiful person, at this very moment, is entangled in emotions that a re crippling her confidence. So much so, that she can no longer recognise all that she has achieved and the very bright and special light she brings to the world around her.
She has traveled the world, lived in multiple countries, has a huge circle of friends that care and love her immensely. She has healed and recovered from a broken heart and done so with grace. The last few years have been spent working on her own development, professional and personal and I can say to watch her grow and learn, has been an absolute privilege.
So why does she feel like a failure?
The answer is pretty simple, she is measuring her life and accomplishments by everyone else’s yard stick.
It is so easy to get whipped up into the stereotypical, cookie cutter, ideal of what success looks like in our society. Being part of a perfect pair, having a six figure salary, a big house, the latest model car… you know how it goes.
But ultimately, for me, my measure of success is happiness.
Happiness? That’s a bit broad, I hear you say! Well my definition of happiness is this.
‘My family and I are healthy and have the freedom to live in a place we love, learn new skills, have the freedom to follow our passions, and are surrounded by those we love.’
I can see some of your eye’s rolling as you read my happiness statement AKA measure of success and that is totally OK! I have to admit, it sounds a bit airy, fairy, fluffy and unrealistic. But those of you who know and have worked with me know, that I am a very practical, pragmatic and grounded person. So let’s break that statement down into its component peices.
My family and I are healthy – healthy to me is healthy mind, body and spirit. Healthy meaning we do our upmost to eat well, we live within proximity to open space, being near nature is important to our mental wellbeing, we move our bodies, we exercise and in ways we enjoy. We have access to affordable healthcare be it natural, preventative, or traditional medicine.
Freedom to live in a place we love. For me this is a biggie, my home is the foremost important part of my universe and maybe even more so, now we have kids. My home is my place to rest, relax, play, study, work and create. It’s my 100% safe space and this is how I want our kids to feel about home too.
We are struggling with this one right now, as we have grown, and the four of us are busting out of our current space.
We love where we live!
We are lucky enough to have made the move from the big smoke, we live on the Central Coast. Five mins drive from the beach, ten minutes from forest and bushland, good school and a real community feel. Like many suburbs in NSW, property prices are rocketing and our need to up-size is ever-present but it is more important (to me), to be able to be at home, with our kids, and enjoy that space. Then to invest in a huge and amazing space, but be too busy working to pay for it. Freedom is always front of mind and that includes finances.
I have always learnt so much from learning a new skill, whether it be a new piece of technology, how to make tortillas from scratch or a musical instrument. Approaching life with a learning mind, has meant that I am always curious and questioning. It has also made me incredibly adaptable which is an awesome life skill I want for my boys.
Having the freedom to follow our passions, looks a lot like financial freedom. Our aim is to keep our financial commitments low, so that we can be flexible. Whether that means we go live in another country for a few years, or one of us wants to go to uni to learn something new, to the boys having opportunities for travel. Whatever it is, we want to try encourage each other to follow our hearts desire.
Being surrounded by people we love is really the easy bit. Maybe not so much when I was younger, but knowing your boundaries and spending time with people that lift you up, encourage and make you feel good is just so important.
Here are five quick tips to set you up for success on your own terms:
- What are you proud of? Write down one thing every day that you are proud of. It might be that you achieved a goal, or you handled a challenging situation in a positive way. Whatever it is, write it down and celebrate your damn self!
- Listen to who you are at your core, not the mother, sister, partner… You in all your individualistic glory.
- Don’t ever compare yourself to someone else. You are living your story, have walked only a path that you can.
- Don’t let other people tell you what success looks like.
- Define what success looks like for you. When you do this, you will be amazed at what can come up and a lot of the time you will start to realise that some of the things you were aspiring for, aren’t important to you.
We all need to take the time and connect with ourselves, and set our own, individual measures for what a successful life looks like.