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What's YOUR Definition of Success?

One winter day when I was eight years old, my dad and I built an enormous snow dog in the front yard (because snowMEN where too normal for my dad). Standing back, fingers frozen numb, looking at that beast, I felt like I had accomplished the most incredible feat. I felt proud. I felt successful. I knew in that moment that there was absolutely nothing I couldn’t accomplish if I focused and worked my fingers off.

And you know what? I was right.

But somewhere along the way I forgot.

Somewhere along the way I started believing the b.s. about what I was “supposed” to do to be successful. I started doubting myself and the things that felt important to me, and I traded my “crazy” dreams for the “responsible” path that society had laid out before me.

After a few detours along the way, I ended up with two awesome kids, a good husband, beautiful home and all the other “symbols of success.”

And while all of these were blessings… I still felt empty inside.

So I started searching. I started reading and researching and looking at everything around me through a different lens.

Interestingly, the world I saw through that new lens was the same world I knew when I was a child. Before I started letting other people tell me what success is supposed to look like.

I had come full circle. And I realized that I had known what made me happy all along. We all have.

Think back to your earliest memories, to the moments when you felt truly fulfilled and overflowing with joy. My guess is those moments had nothing to do with money or a job or a fast race time or a partner or your outward appearance or a “title” or degree. You didn’t ask a friend or family member or teacher what would make you happy.

You just knew. And you didn’t question it.

You tried something, and if it made you feel happy and proud, you kept doing it until you completed it.

We defined our own success. And we were happy.

So when did we start putting other people in charge of what OUR success should look like?

When did we hand over the reins to the direction our lives should go?

When did we start to believe that other people know better than we do?

That celebrity we idolize? The accomplished professor in college? Our boss or fashionable best friend?

What’s right for them has absolutely nothing to do with what’s right for us.

Yes, there may be similarities, and there’s nothing wrong with looking to others for inspiration. But when we start comparing ourselves, we lose ourselves.

When we start comparing ourselves, we lose ourselves.

As children, we had all the confidence in the world in our instincts. We truly held the world in our hands. We understood that success was different for everyone. That what made me happy might be different from what made my sister or my best friend happy, and that was OK!

Forging our own path to our OWN version of success isn’t something we need to learn how to do, it’s something we need to REMEMBER how to do.

It’s in there. It always has been. We just need to listen.

To stop doubting our own judgement.

To stop calling our own dreams silly.

We need to stop looking outside of ourselves for someone to tell us what should matter to US.

Easier said than done, I know. But I find so much comfort and strength in the knowledge that the answers are already inside me. I just need to unearth them, dust them off, and live them.

And I need to remember that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about my dreams, because they are MY dreams.

If it lights our hearts on fire, it's right.


Follow that fire. Follow that joy.

You don’t need to explain your reasons.

If it makes you happy, it’s a gift to the world. Because when we are happy, we have so much more to offer. Our happiness spreads like wildfire. Our joy lights up the world.

And THAT is my definition of success.

What’s yours?

Xx Jen

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