S is for Success: A Moving Feast (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr -

I read this great blog post the other day by Amy Rhulin entitled Embracing Ourselves at Fifty. Being currently at the crossroads of my life lead me to Midlife Bloggers and some terrific material.

Whilst I am not quite 50 yet, the messages in Amy’s blog were ringing as loudly as if Quasimodo had taken up residence in a nearby belfry. For there I was doing exactly what Amy said not to do….dumping on my younger self. The rational part of me knows that we are all only human, that we can only make the decisions that we make with the information that is then available and with the armory we then have on hand. The other part of me (I won’t call it irrational) berates herself for making some of those decisions and for not understanding some things earlier. Amy’s blog however helped me to put parts of my journey into context and has given me a different perspective.

One of the issues I have thought a lot about lately is success and what it means. In my twenties and thirties I certainly bought into the conventional view of success. Success meant a prestigious career, promotions, a comfortable house and material possessions. The conditioning, I think, started from birth…school was about getting into university, university was about getting a good job and a good job was about having a decent lifestyle. What no-one told me though was that having all of these meant sacrificing in other areas such as friendships, spirituality and creativity. Success at this level also meant having to rely heavily on external validation and other’s opinions of my person and abilities.

Now being in my forties, I view success vastly differently. I have come to the conclusion that the concept of success is not complicated. In fact it’s simplicity itself ……

successful people are those that are happy and if you are happy then you have achieved success.

That’s it, full stop, period.

In some cases, pursuing happiness and ergo, success takes a lot of courage. Courage to be true to yourself, to buck societal pressure and norms and to give yourself permission to just “go for it”. I applaud anyone who has this sort of courage. I also applaud those who are achieving happiness through the pursuit of conventionial success as I have referred to above. Nobody is in a position to judge what makes another happy.

From where I am now, success depends far less on external validation and events and more on my own internal perspective and happiness. It’s less about material possessions and tangibles and more about connections, community and relationships. Maybe, it’s because these are what I had to sacrifice to achieve my conventional success. As a result, I feel far more in control now. There is more than a little irony here as I used to spend a lot of time and energy trying to control my career path, other’s reactions and behaviour. This sort of control, I discovered is a false illusion.

So to my younger self I say thank you for leading me to this point. I now realise that I had to go through the experiences in my twenties and thirties to fill me with the wisdom I am gaining in my forties and the possibilities I will have in my fifties.

And as for success, I have come to the conclusion that it is permissible that the definition changes over one’s lifetime.  And yes,  a thousand daily blog views, likes and comments would be nice, but to me this post is already a success. Why? Because my happiness has been enriched just by writing it.

Have a great weekend everybody!