By Paula Lawes
Whilst at school, college or university we are told consistently that success is measured by what you have and what you’ve achieved. We are constantly taught that to get on in life we need to get good grades, have a career, get married, buy a house and have children all by a certain time in life.
It’s a never ending cycle of exams, studying, stress and pressure. Our life is swallowed up with this kind of mentality, to the point we forget to really live. We try to impress others, namely our parents, our teachers and greedily compete with our peers believing that we will never have enough until we’ve got it all!
It’s not true!
You see, by the time I was in my late twenties I had it all. The car, the fancy apartment, the up and coming career, the money and all the material possessions I desired. However, what came with that resembled a very similar set of circumstances to that of my school years.
Stresses, pressure, people pleasing, competitive and fearful thinking that led me to, in the end hate my life and how I was living it. In actual fact, I don’t think I was living; I was going through each day like a robot set on automatic, because I thought that was what I should do.
Believe me I’ve been there, done it and worn the t-shirt. So I thought I’d provide a few reasons why success doesn’t have to mean living this kind of life. It isn’t about what you have, but more about being happy with where you are right now.
1. Don’t look forward look back
Remember when you were 18 (or younger), when you’d imagine what your life would be like in your mid-twenties and what you thought you would be doing? Now look at where you are today, and where you have come from; I suspect you’ve come a pretty long way. Am I right? When you look back over what you’ve learnt along the way; it kind of makes you glad and proud of how far you have actually come.
Instead of thinking ‘I should be doing this or being that’ seeking more than you already have. Try to look at your life as a journey. See the choices you have made and roads travelled, giving you your life right now, knowing without it you’d not be the person you are today. Take pride in how far you have come and have less focus on where you think you ‘should’ be.
2. Celebrate your failures
You might think this a little strange, but bear with me on this. Remember a time in your past when you really wanted something, you desire it that much you thought you couldn’t live without it and yet still it never happened. It’s likely that you saw this as a huge failure at the time, blaming your inadequacies and punishing yourself over and over again.
Now look at those failures and where you are now; I suspect you are glad in some way that you failed. You see, not getting what you wanted has sent you in a new direction which has, now you come to think of it, a wonderful stroke of luck!
Imagine if you’d gotten what you wanted in the first place, would you have the life you have at present? Would you have the same people in your life, learnt the same lessons and would you want to go back to being that person again? I very much doubt it! Life has a funny habit of giving you what you want, when you need it and not before. So be glad of that and celebrate your failures!
3. Understand that real success is who you become
This is the most important point that I have learnt, especially when I’d always considered success in terms of money, material things and status. Now I believe that the person I have become, the lessons I have learnt, the failures, the teachers I have met, have all contributed to whom I have become.
You see, during the last thirty something years I have grown considerably, more so in the last two. During those years I have had pain, shame, anger, happiness, sadness and a whole heap of other emotions and experiences. Throughout my journey I have continued relentlessly along my own path, worked through my darkness, letting in the light, sacrificed and made so mistakes I’ve lost count!
Would I change a thing? You have got to be joking!
You too will have come a long way on your own journey. It’s here where you embrace who you are, the person you have become and what you came here to be. That is where real success is.