What happens when you let others define success for you
Ahhh, this is going to be a very vulnerable post (because I talk about being fired for the first time to ANYONE besides the 5 closest people to me…here it goes! <3
For a long time I let my version of success be defined by other people. I think most of us do, it’s almost a part of being human – we care what other people think of us, we want to be liked, and we want to fit in. So we often define our version of success or a happy life based on what other people think success or happiness means so we can fit in and be liked.
It wasn’t until I got sick that I stopped and paused long enough to realize this was even happening. For most of my 20’s, I thought success to me meant climbing the corporate ladder, earning 6 figures for a company that was “cool” or highly respected.
After college I worked hard to find a job that I could wear as a badge of honor. I was praying I wouldn’t get one at a company no one had heard of doing work no one would see – the horror! I guess fortunately for my ego at the time I landed a job at a well known advertising agency working on one of the most well known & cool brands in the world.
“Cool!” I thought, “Now anyone who looks at my LinkedIn page will think I’m awesome!” LOL, or something along those lines.
I’m pretty sure NO ONE thought that when they found out I (sort of) worked for this big name brand. In fact, I’m positive no one thought that. Truthfully, no one cares where you work and no one thinks you’re cooler or any better of a person because of that either. Even though it feels that way. Trust me, I know the feeling.
But when I got fired from that job (more on that in a bit) and started working at my next job at a place no one had heard of, nothing changed. Well that’s not true, I learned a lot from being fired, but like I said, more on that in a minute. When I mean nothing changed I mean the fact that I had gone from working for this cool brand to company “unknown” didn’t affect any of my relationships. I didn’t become less cool. I didn’t become any less of a person because of it…
I started to realize that I liked working at smaller companies. I had more independence, my work was noticed more, I had more flexibility in my schedule and the type of work I did. My version of success started to shift.
I’m telling you all of this because so many of us spend our lives striving for a version of success that isn’t true to what we really want. It isn’t the version of success that will fulfill us or make us happiest. It’s the version of success we learn from parents, friends, teachers, peers, the media, all of that. And this in itself will leave us unfulfilled and feeling stuck without really knowing why because we THINK we’re going after what we want.
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At the time I was fired from my first job it pretty much felt like the worst thing that could’ve ever happened to me. Looking back, it was probably the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. It put me closer to the path I was meant to be on.
I was a phenomenal employee, quick to be promoted, that is, until I met my boyfriend and fell in love.
Then my priorities changed.
I valued my relationship more than I valued staying late at work and working weekends. I cared more about being home in time for dinner than eating every dinner with coworkers stuck in an editing bay all night. I wanted more freedom and more flexibility with my time than my job could offer. I started to put myself first instead of my job and that just didn’t fit with the company culture. I started sticking out like a sore thumb in all the wrong ways.
And what’s crazy is I was pretty much shamed for this – not only by co-workers but our society as a whole. This whole putting yourself first thing is just not what we do in mainstream society! It’s just not ok. You need to put your company and job first before your own health, your mental state, your relationships – right? That’s often what it feels like when working a corporate job. Not all companies are like this I’m sure, but the vast majority are.
At the time I felt so much guilt and shame when I got fired. I knew I was a hard worker, smart and ambitious and yet I had failed. Turns out I just value different things than traditional companies value.
Slowly I started realizing that this version of success that I was trying to live up to might not be exactly right for me.
Growing up, I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I sold leftover Halloween candy on my street, I started a lemonade stand, I sold random things online, in college I even sold stainless steel water bottles when those were becoming a thing. But I never seriously considered being an entrepreneur…I toyed with the idea, I took a class in college about entrepreneurship, but I had a story in my head that I kept telling myself that always stopped me.
That story was “It’s too hard, it’s too risky. You’re going to fail. And then people will judge you. And then you’ll probably die of humiliation.”
So I stuck with what I felt was easier, safe, something I thought I couldn’t fail at – a regular 9-5 job, where people wouldn’t judge me and I wouldn’t die of humiliation.
But surprise! I kinda did fail at that, if you consider being fired to be failing. Then I more or less got laid off from my next 2 jobs. I thought there must be something wrong with me! Why couldn’t I hold a job? I was a stellar student, a hard worker, always excelled at everything I did and yet here I was, getting fired and laid off from each job I had. WTF?
Honestly, working a 9-5 was like me trying to fit myself as a round peg into a square hole. It just didn’t fit. I couldn’t cut it in the 9-5 world because I value different things than corporate culture does. Some people excel in 9-5 jobs and totally love their careers – AH, that’s freaking awesome! I’m in no way trying to say that my way is better or that working a 9-5 job is lame/stiffling. It was for me, but it isn’t for a lot of people and I get that.
Like I said, it wasn’t until I got sick and did a lot of inner, personal development and mindset work that I realized I needed to find a new version of success that felt true to who I was.
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So that’s what I’ve been doing over the past few years. I’ve been exploring what truly lights me up so I can define my most authentic and successful path for me. And I want you reading this to know that if you’ve ever felt like the 9-5 world wasn’t a good fit for you, or if you’ve been continually laid off or even fired when you KNOW you’re smart and hard working, there is nothing wrong with you!
You’re just different, my friend. And that’s a beautiful thing.
I know many of you reading my blog have been coming here for my musings on mindfulness, happiness, and self-development and I know that recently I’ve been going in a new direction. Things have been changing for me, I’ve been getting closer and closer to living my dream, my most authentic life, and I want to share that with you as I get there.
I want to share with you, my journey and how I’ve changed what success means to me in the hopes that it inspires you to do the same. I want you to define what success really means to you – not to your parents, not to your best friend, not to your college professors. TO YOU. Because ultimately, that’s where you’ll find true happiness.
Related Post: What’s Blocking Your Happiness: Self Confidence
You can let others define success for you or you can define it for yourself. I recommend the latter ;). To define it for yourself you need to get really clear on what your values are, what drives you, and get more in touch with your true self and find clarity in what you truly want. There’s a great podcast I recently listened to all about what drives you that I think will really help you guys, you can find it here. I also want to share a recent Facebook LIVE video I did where I outline how you can get more in touch with your most authentic self and find clarity in what you truly want – if you find it helpful, please leave me a comment and share the video so I know! <3
If success to you TRULY means climbing the corporate ladder – by all means, go do that and rock it! As long as it’s what you truly want then you’ll be shining your light for the rest of the world to follow.
But if you feel out of place in the 9-5 world or you just know you want to do something different, PLEASE, PLEASE, find out what that is. Don’t wait.
Don’t settle for feeling safe because I can promise you safety is just an illusion and one day you’ll be faced with a crisis that will make you choose between remaining the same and being courageous. Choose courage.
Find out what else is out there for you. THAT is what life is all about.
There are so many more options out there for people who don’t want to stay in the 9-5 world! The internet has exploded and there are opportunities at your fingertips to do something different! I promise you can find something that makes you happy, you just have to have some courage.
If you’re looking for help along this journey of finding clarity, aligning with your true self and exploring a life of online entrepreneurship outside the 9-5 world, join me NOW in my new 5-week course and group coaching program, Path to Freedom. THIS is exactly what we’re working in the course and I promise big transformations for you in 2018 if you are open to a path of courage and freedom, but you need a little motivation, guidance and support along the way!
Thank you all for being here and for following along with my on my journey.
Much love and gratitude,