I used to compare myself to people I admired. People who seemed to be doing everything I dreamed of doing — writing, leading retreats, speaking, traveling the world, and using their skills, experience and gifts to make a real contribution to others.
Can you relate? If so, you know how miserable it can make you feel.
I wanted what they had, and I felt like if only I had more skills, resources, money, experience, and connections, then maybe it would be my turn. Maybe I would have my big break. For years, I felt off track and behind. I felt like they were successful and I was always on the outside looking in.
It wasn’t just in my career, but my judgment also affected my personal relationships. I’d secretly be jealous of my friends who were getting married. I wondered why I was still single and in my midthirties. I thought there must be something wrong with me.
But this toxic war in my head ceased when I got honest with myself.
I realized the core of my comparison was I didn’t feel good enough.
I didn’t think anyone would care about what I had to share, and I worried about people judging me. At the foundation of my insecurity was the belief that I was unlovable and unworthy of my desires. The things we believe and think about ourselves affect our entire life.
I realized by focusing on what I lacked or didn’t appreciate, I was preventing myself from moving forward. I shifted my perspective and realized just because I wasn’t as far along in my career didn’t mean that my life and my work were any less meaningful or fulfilling. My problem wasn’t that I was off track and behind; it was that I wasn’t appreciating what was going well.
The way I was defining success was what was making me feel off track in life.
Society will tell us true success is a certain number in the bank, or more followers, the home we have, or certain benchmarks in our life and career, but all of this is external. None of this actually makes us happy. Sure we get the raise, the soul mate, the award, but then we quickly move on to the next thing. The happiness we are seeking in success is fleeting.
The pivotal moment for me was when I sat down and redefined success.
To me it is about growing, learning, and being your authentic self. Being able to do what you love for a living and making a contribution to others.
What does success mean to you?
Most importantly, I learned that success has nothing to do with accolades, your LinkedIn resume, or your IG grid. It is about you being true to yourself and expressing yourself, not forcing yourself to do what others want of you. And most importantly, true success is knowing that you are right where you need to be, and you are not off track or behind.
Here are eight ways you are succeeding at life, especially if it doesn’t feel like it.
You have raised your standards.
Settling is a way of your past, you now focus on what makes you feel good, and you are creating a life to support that.
You let go of things that don’t make you feel good.
People, situations, habits, and beliefs can all make us feel frustrated and off track. In the process of leading a life you feel connected to, look at all of the things in your life and release what no longer works. Everything has an expiration date. It’s time to let it go.
You may not have as much money as you want but you live a rich life.
Being abundant is not just about your financial situation. You can live a rich life by being in gratitude and cherishing the things you do have and love.
You’ve learned that setbacks and failure are part of self-growth.
There are no mistakes; we grow from all of our choices. Recognize that every choice you make is part of your bigger plan. There is never a setback because your soul is growing, and that is true success.
You’ve accepted what you cannot change. You change what you can’t accept.
It’s a cliché for a reason. Take accountability and stop blaming others for your circumstances. Accept what cannot be changed at this time and roll up your sleeves. Do the work to change what you are unwilling to accept.
You can celebrate others’ successes.
Part of being successful is being able to honor and celebrate other people’s wins.
You allow yourself to feel your feelings and are comfortable sharing them.
Sharing yourself and expressing your true emotions is part of living a rich life.
You Express Yourself.
Self-expression is the highest form of happiness and success. You might worry about what other people will think and you don’t want to be judged, but the highest form of self-love is self-appreciation, which means you’re comfortable with who you are and unapologetic about your desires.
Shannon Kaiser, a wellness writer, life coach, and speaker is the author of The Self Love Experiment.
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