Spoiler alert: It’s OK to enjoy a good, simple life
It seems like every time I log on to my computer there are more and more articles on success. I’m sure you’ve seen them:
How to 10x your life … get up before you go to bed, do a high-intensity workout, cold shower, meditate, journal, work, then have breakfast with your spouse and schedule in kissing your kids on the cheek before networking with important people, all before 10 am.
Then there’s the headlines… How I make a million dollars a year working 10 minutes a day. How to hack your time to be super-efficient. How I read 1000 books this year. How the rich don’t think like average people… Makes you feel inadequate before you even open the article doesn’t it?
I used to lap up these articles about how I could be a better person, without ever stopping to wonder if, in fact, I already was a good person. I tried doing it the way the articles said, but it felt hard, unnatural, masculine, selfish, and I always wound up feeling drained. Then I would feel unsuccessful because I couldn’t keep it up. Like I wasn’t destined to be a “success”.
Along the way, I figured out that these articles are often a bit simplistic and don’t really consider the complexities of life… kids, partners, colleagues and friends that may not be running to your self imposed schedule. Life is not linear and things happen that make such a punishing schedule unsustainable. (Although I guess the authors would say these are just objections and if I really wanted it bad enough…)
I’m not suggesting there aren’t some habits that are worth cultivating: the art of listening (to really listen not to respond), exercise (your way), healthy eating at regular times, good sleep, routine, hygiene, healthy relationships and letting go of judgment are all good.
It did get me to thinking that maybe it’s ok being one of the “average” people these articles write about. They are simply writing about their version of success and perhaps it’s more appropriate to consider what success means to me.
Financial success to me is not a certain number in the bank account but rather to have the ability to do the things important to me. I need enough to live day to day, to fund my holidays, to invest for the future (so my day to day can be funded indefinitely). But financial success, to me, isn’t having a certain income, 5-star holidays (I love camping under a bazillion stars!), having an expensive car or a big house…. so why should I waste my time chasing them just because they are important to someone else?
It’s important to me that I’m home when my daughter gets home from school (and when she wakes up for that matter). So I don’t want to be up and gone super early or home late.
Success, to me, is keeping my stress down through time in nature. It’s important to me that I have the capacity to listen to my body and respect its rhythm rather than forcing it through a punishing self-imposed schedule.
Success is personal to the individual. For some people winning the race is their version of success, but for others, just getting to the start line makes them successful.
Entrepreneur, James Altucher said words along the lines that “The reward for success should not be constantly stressing that you’re not doing enough to “capitalize” on that success.”
That really resonated with me. It’s important to enjoy the process of life rather than second-guessing yourself and creating stress thinking that you need to be doing even more.
If I am living the life I love then does it matter that I don’t get up and meditate every single day? Or if I go a whole week without journaling? I’m pretty happy with a nice warm shower and enjoying breakfast with my family!
There is nothing wrong with continuing to stretch yourself, in fact, I think we need to do this to grow as humans. Each time we do set a new stretch goal, we need to ask if it’s what we truly want or is it someone else’s version of success? If it is what we truly want then by all means, grab the bull by the horns and get on with it, but do it because it resonates with you.
Finally, it’s also important that we stop and smell the roses along the way. Take the time to enjoy our lives exactly as they are, without constantly wanting more and striving for the next shiny thing.
I think it’s enough to just want a good life. To live your dreams. To be a good person. To be kind, loving and healthy. To have enough wealth to do the things that matter to you without needing to 10 x it.
My call to action is for you to sit down and spend a moment considering this… What does success mean to you?