Do you see your success? I don’t. Sure, everyone once in a while, I’ll stop to toot my own horn on Twitter or on the blog. I’m a big fan of sharing extra mortgage payments or totaling up how much debt I’ve destroyed in a year. But I don’t know that I’ve ever actually defined my idea of success, let alone used the s-word when talking about myself. Until now.
A while back, I had the opportunity to do a guest post for ESI money. The experience was pretty thrilling, but the best part was actually the opportunity to interact with new people in the comments section. I was on a roll, until one person stopped me dead in my keyboard tracks.
A commenter by the name of Ari wrote that they could tell I would lead a successful life in whatever I do and then asked if I had ever clearly defined what success looks like for me professionally or financially.
This was cognitive dissonance like whoa. Not only was Ari dead on that I had never defined successful for myself, Ari also didn’t realize that this Humble Midwesterner can’t take a compliment for anything.
It’s true. Every vowel sound I make sounds like the letter A. I wear gym shoes. I drink pop. And I cannot take a compliment.
You like my hair? I’ll quickly point on the waves that I couldn’t quite tame in the back.
You like my shoes? I’ll tell you that they were on sale.
You like my blog? I’ll point out what I like about yours even more. Or let you in on the fact that I still haven’t installed Google Analytics. (One day. One day.)
But you call me successful?
I can’t deflect that by telling you that I got it for 30% off at Kohl’s with an extra 6% cash back using Ebates.
Ask me to define what success means to me personally, and then I’m really stumped.
In the past, I suppose I’ve equated success with other far-flung concepts like financial independence. It’s out there but with no real discernible metric. (I don’t have Google Analytics, remember? I also don’t calculate my net worth.) I just always assumed that when I’d stumbled upon success, I’d know it. Surely that comes with party hats or something.
But then I was at a gathering where I had a chance to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in a while. We were in the midst of polite chit-chat (we’re all Midwesterners so polite chit-chat is so cyclical is might as well be a circle of hell), when someone commented that her kids were all the age where they could pour themselves cereal. They only thing they needed their mom for was to know if it was OK to add milk that week or not.
Go ahead. Read that again. Really let that thought sink in. I can wait.
I don’t have my debt paid off.
I don’t earn six figures.
I don’t have a cash cow of a blog, a book deal, or a cult following.
I also don’t have the fastest car, the biggest house, or the most exotic bumper stickers.
I don’t have any of the obvious markers of success when it comes to Mustachians or Kardashians.
But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t already been wildly successful. I have a job that I love, I write a blog that I enjoy, and I can’t say enough about my family and friends. Financially, I have enough.
I have found success.
Related Post: Finding Contentment in Well Enough
That struggling mom? She’s found success, too. Is she facing far greater struggles than I am? Absolutely. But that also means that she’s overcome obstacles, too. Those moments of triumph? That’s success. How could we call it anything else?
Like so much of life, there is no one metric for success. That was the beauty of that commetor’s question. Have you defined success for yourself? I hadn’t. I hadn’t taken the time to define success because I assumed it was so far in the distant future that I could just figure it out. I figured it was like when you’re traveling somewhere you’ve never been — you hope someone there will be a sign or a t-shirt stand or something.
But success isn’t like that.
You can find success without being perfect.
You can find success without being finished.
You can find success if you give yourself the opportunity to look around for it and allow yourself to celebrate.
So Tell Me…What success have you have recently?
Pssst – If you don’t follow me on Twitter, I’d love it if you would. I’d really like to put together a series or a spotlight or something to celebrate money wins. Stay tuned.