What’s My Definition of Success?

“What do you do?”

It seems like an innocent enough question. But I also found myself feeling wildly insecure when I was asked this recently. I was in the company of a group of new friends, and they were doctors, lawyers, etc. Career people.

“What do you do?” they asked me.

Suddenly my mouth got dry and there was a flutter in my stomach and I felt wildly less than.

“Oh me? I manage an Executive’s blog, social media and co-host a podcast. I also am a digital media consultant. Oh, and I do photography. Plus, I write my own blog. And diapers. So many diapers because I work from home most days.”

I found myself fumbling, feeling insecure about what I do because it doesn’t fit in a “career” mold. I felt less successful somehow, but why do we do that to ourselves?

Why do I associate a career path with success? Why do I compare myself?

For years now, I’ve been in a season of shifting, sorting, reflecting, and changing. Sifting through the rubble of one chapter of my life ending and quickly building and launching into the new chapter. Getting divorced, being a single mama and remarrying will tend to do that.

Climbing the corporate ladder or advancing my career hasn’t felt nearly as important as surviving has. It’s been exhausting and exciting all at the same time. Constantly re-evaluating, adjusting, stretching, and growing into this new season and somehow I’ve felt like I’ve fallen behind. Because I’ve been so entrenched in working on my personal life, advancing professionally hasn’t been as big of a priority. In some ways I’ve felt like a failure. My first marriage failed, my career isn’t quite where I thought it would be, etc.

But over the years, my definition of success has changed entirely. 

In college, I was a Public Relations major and was on the path to PR greatness, so I thought. I was VP of the PRSSA society, I won some awards which at the time seemed like a big deal, I was told I had “professional promise” by my professors. I envisioned myself living in NYC, owning a loft, and being some big PR executive. I landed all the important internships to put on my resume, got all the best job interviews, but I quickly realized that the PR agency life just didn’t fit me. I didn’t want that career path.

Both my “career” and the trajectory of my personal life has looked a bit like the Chutes and Ladders board game… It’s been curvy but also bright and colorful. And and to be honest, all the failures in my life has brought about the most growth.

One of my all-time favorite authors and make-believe-best-friends is Brené Brown. In her newest book Rising Strong she says this:

I’ve rumbled with failure and shame enough over the past decade to know this: You can do everything right. You can cheer yourself on, have all the support you can find in place, and be 100 percent ready to go, and still fail. It happens to writers, artists, entrepreneurs, health professionals, teachers — you name it. But if you can look back during your rumble and see that you didn’t hold back – that you were all  in — you will feel very different than someone who didn’t fully show up. You may have to deal with the failure, but you won’t have to wrestle with the same level of shame that we experience when our efforts were halfhearted.

When I look at my life and my career through this point of view — of being brave with your life and living ALL IN — I can proudly say that my life has been a wild success. I have worked hard (with lots of counseling) to be brave and courageous in my relationships and to stay true to myself. I have not lived any area of my life halfhearted.

I have realized that for me, success isn’t a career but it’s community and relationships and spending time with my family and friends whom I love. Success is being bold and brave with your love, even when you don’t know the outcome. Even if that means a marriage failing in divorce. Success is less about what’s on my business card and more about pouring into my kids, my husband and my friends.

In this season of my life success is snuggling extra long with my babies in the morning before we get up to do the day. Success might mean I actually worked out and got a shower in on the same day. Success is watching your baby girl learn to crawl, explore the world and almost walk. Success is watching your parents and grandparents love on your kids. Success is stealing away for a date night, even though you can’t believe how much you just paid for a babysitter, dinner and the movie. (Let’s order in next time, honey!) Success is going away for a girls weekend so that I foster friendships and don’t just feel like a diaper-changing-machine. Success is working hard and seeing a project come to fruition.

what-success-looks-like

Success is about helping to provide for my family financially of course, but it’s also about stewardship.

Am I glorifying God with the talents and passions He has given me? Am I being a good steward of the talents I have? Am I loving the people in all areas of my life well? Am I living ALL IN? Am I a light and do I bring HOPE to people I meet every day?

If I can answer yes to those questions at any given time of my life, I will consider myself to be wildly successful. No matter what’s on my business card… and right now I don’t even have business cards!

So what do I do?

I’m a full time wife and mama to 2, part time social media manager, entrepreneur, digital media consultant, photographer, writer, friend, and full time hope bearer.

I used to be embarrassed that I liked to wear a lot of different hats, but now I’m comfortable in my skin enough to know that I like juggling a lot of things. It’s part of who I am and I actually thrive when I have lots of projects to work on and things to do.

This season of wearing a lot of different hats is perfect for me and I’m so thankful for it. I adore working for LifeWay, I love doing photography sessions when I have time and I love being a consultant for businesses and their social media/blogging. It might not make sense to you how I can do so many different things, but it all makes sense in my head!

I’m so thankful for where I am and I’m proud of my life and career. I’ve worked really hard to live my life ALL IN. So when that comparison monster stares me in the face, someone remind me to go read my blog again!

Do you struggle with what success looks like? What does it look like in your life?

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