“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” ~Maya Angelou
When I was thirty I was earning double the salary I am today. I was also stressed, depressed, sick, tired, and hated my job.
Most media portals want us to believe that in order to be successful we must own a large property, have vacations in exotic destinations, drive a flashy car, and be designer-dressed from head to toe. And that's just for starters.
We are bombarded with these falsehoods from an early age and we set out on a mission to acquire the material goods that we believe will cement our success.
We chase an illusion because we expect it to bring us fulfillment and then we wonder why we're left feeling unsatisfied.
Relentlessly pursuing a materialistic ideal is a breeding ground for anxiety and stress.
Today I'm forty years old and I'm a freelance writer. Fun fact: I don't always get paid to write. It's a truth for many creatives. For a long time I found it hard to believe in the virtue of working without financial reward.
Even though I was in a position to have my voice heard, even though I was able to connect with many likeminded people, and even though I received a wealth of messages from those who were able to resonate with and relate to my work, it still felt like I was falling short somehow. Why?
Because I'd been conditioned to believe that success was synonymous with a bulging bank account.
It wasn't until I started to celebrate my personal achievements for what they actually were, rather than what I'd been told they needed to be, that I began to realize I didn't always have to attach a dollar sign to everything.
Shifting my perspective was the first step on a journey to finding freedom and liberating myself from limiting beliefs.
Here are five ways I've learned to redefine success and recognize value:
1. Understanding that health is wealth.
Think of food as fuel. What we feed our bodies determines how we think and feel; our output is affected by our input. Paying attention to our diet is crucial to our overall well-being and has a direct impact on our ability to operate at our optimum best.
I used to feel constantly tired and run down when I was existing on foods that were sucking my energy rather than restoring it. We can't enjoy life when we're running on empty. Fill up on energizing foods that are rich in goodness and be prepared to notice the difference.
2. Creating a self-care system.
By weaving self-care into our days we feel a sense of reward that doesn't have to be financial. Set aside time on a regular basis for some love and kindness, just for you—weekly is good, daily is even better.
Maybe it's some lunchtime yoga, perhaps it's finding twenty minutes to sit in peace or an evening ritual of a soaking in the tub with some essential oils. The benefits of holistic therapies are far reaching and make a true difference to how we feel.
Some of the things I make time for are reading, lighting candles, using lavender oil, and listening to classical music. They are my tools to unwind and de-stress and I love the positive effect they have on me.
3. Letting go of “should.”
The media machines love to tell us what we should buy in order to feel good. Countless magazines make their millions by highlighting what we are lacking and what we must purchase in our endeavors to be thinner/younger/sexier.
Since I've stopped being spoon-fed and started my own self-nourishment, I can honestly say I've never felt more confident. I make choices that are right for me and I don't second-guess my intuition. Tune out of the TV and tune into yourself, and you too will feel more confident.
4. Being grateful.
When we truly appreciate what we have and make gratitude our starting point, we are far less likely to worry about what we don't have. It's actually quite difficult to feel a sense of lack at the same time as feeling a sense of gratitude.
Mindfulness is a discipline, but the rewards of appreciating each gift that life brings far exceed the momentary pleasure of a new purchase.
Each night, before I go to sleep, I make a mental list of things that I'm grateful for. It's so nice to end the day focusing on abundance and joy. No matter what kind of day I've had, there is always something I can find to say thank you for.
5. Paying more attention to life rather than “likes.”
Success isn't how many Facebook friends we have or how many people pressed like on our post. Social media is an amazing tool but it's also a forum where people tend to showcase the best of themselves. We often make big assumptions based on small snippets.
I used to get so hung up on what everyone thought of my life that I lost out on living it.
These days I place high value on what I think of my life, not what anyone else might say. And, by doing so, I've found that I have not only set myself free, but I've also found myself within a community of like-minded people who are intent on raising each other up. It's a loving embrace and it's priceless.
When we make our real life our focus we're much more likely to feel happy and fulfilled.
What’s your definition of success?
Success image via Shutterstock