With the holidays over, conversations will change to New Years resolutions and reflecting on the year that has ended. The measure of our personal and professional success is sure to come up or at least come to mind.
The affirmation, the expectation that I would be successful was instilled in me from my earliest memory. Good grades were expected. Keeping busy was a given. Not going to college was unthinkable. If having one job was good, having two was better. Being financially successful was the goal.
I named my Life Coaching practice, Step Out Of Your Way Life Coaching because I remain convinced that what usually stands in the way of our success is us. I am a visual person so I “see” myself standing. I see a shadow of myself standing in front of me. If that shadow takes a step to the left, I can proceed on my path. That visual is how I remind myself to step out of my way.
Whether that shadow of me, standing in my way is fueled by doubt, fear or insecurities or worse, the words of another telling me I can’t, it’s a powerful and debilitating force to be reckoned with. We are what stands in our way to being who we want to be or getting where we want to go. When I stop blaming others or looking for the outside factors holding me back, it becomes a much smoother sail to where I want to go.
Still, if I allow myself to, I often feel very unsuccessful. When I sit down to pay the monthly bills, I feel unsuccessful. When I look around my house that needs new everything, I feel unsuccessful. When I see what I think others have or how easy they have it, I do not feel successful.
If you are feeling unsuccessful, perhaps it’s time to redefine success. I did and I do because it’s a constant exercise in countering how others have defined my success.
I do not have a large group of friends. I have a very small group of caring, loyal friends that I would do anything for and who will do anything for me. Success? Check.
I do not have a showpiece house. I have a home that needs work, all the time. Several lightbulbs wait to be replaced because even with nerves of steel, which I no longer have when it comes to heights, and a ladder, I can’t reach them. I don’t have a couch (the dog ate it) or a television (no one watched it) but if you stop over we can chat comfortably over a cup of tea. It was my grandparents’ house so it’s filled with their spirits, their things and my memories. Success? Check.
I am a Case Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Livingston County. It pays less than my last full time job. It pays more than when I was substitute teaching and supplementing with two other part time jobs. It allows me to continue to substitute teach on occasion. Success? Check.
I am an author. I have published five books with the sixth almost ready for editing. I am not on the best seller list. I have not been interviewed on television or radio. I give away more books than I sell. I love to write. My boyfriend is my proofreader and in spite of a few creative differences, we enjoy the process together. Some who have read my books have been touched and inspired and moved to feel differently about themselves and others. My children’s books have received rave reviews in the classrooms where I’ve tested them. Success? Check.
I opened a store/writing studio/life coaching office in September. I meet amazing people who stop in. I have wonderful items for sale. Some days no one comes in so I sit in the office and write or just look out the window and smile. I love being there. I love being there alone and I love being there with customers. It is welcoming and friendly. Success? Check.
My daughter and I were a foster home for our local county animal shelter for six years. We took the hard to place and hospice bound dogs. Many found wonderful forever homes. Many lived out the rest of their days with us. A few never left and greet me every morning. We couldn’t help them all and we couldn’t do it forever. Success? Check.
I try things just because I want to. I have left jobs without having another by trusting it would work out. It always has. My husband and I took a trip we couldn’t afford that turned out to be the last one of his life. No regrets. I give to people not always knowing exactly what their intent or their level of need is; believing they need it more than I do is good enough. I send proposals to present workshops; sometimes they are accepted, sometimes they are not. I do book signings where sometimes I sell books but always I meet interesting people and hear their stories.
If you are not feeling successful, perhaps it’s time to examine your definition of success. Success according to Miriam Webster is: the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame. The Oxford dictionary adds the attainment of popularity or profit. What if your definition of success for yourself didn’t include what others think your success should look like? Are you happy? Are you doing the best you can with what you have? Do you live fearlessly, honestly, lovingly and with integrity? Success? Check? If not, consider an adjustment.
According to the definition of many, I am not successful. What matters, however, is am I successful by my definition of success? So far, so good with new opportunities presenting themselves daily. I wish you all the best in your success!
Wanda Showerman Kester, BS, MS/P, CPC is a Social Worker, Author, a Mom, Life Coach, and the owner of Serendipity Corner, LLC. She lives in Williamston, works in Howell and has a store in Michigan Center.