I could be viewed as the last person qualified to comment on success. Last summer, I gave up the status of a job title, vacated my useful post, let go of a regular salary and girded my loins to re-evaluate my life!
My story, to anyone who would listen, was,"I'm leaving my job to do the things that are really important to me - to follow my Dharma - my purpose in life" (which I believed to be carrying a positive message of hope and change). I’d tell others, "I'm going to build up my coaching business, do some training, deliver some parenting courses, become a Susan Jeffers Feel the Fear workshop trainer - oh - and write a self-help book..." (Is it me - or does just listening to that list feel exhausting?)
But - that is what I felt I must do in order to fill my time 'successfully'. The first few months, however, were spent unbridled, like a horse rolling in the clover after years between the shafts. It was such fun! I was taking mini-breaks, walks, meeting friends, dating, watching catch-up TV during the day...staying up late...getting up late...but I knew it could only be for a while because that desire to make a success of my life still loomed. I’d have to address it sooner than later.
Yes - I set up the coaching business - well actually it set itself up once I'd cleared a space for it. And I really enjoy that positive work. Just a few clients - but that has been fine for me. I’ve come to realise that the need for success is a demanding master. The To-Do list glared at me whenever I walked past: “Apply to be a Susan Jeffers workshop trainer, organise some business cards, write a chapter each week, book a slot at the Tree of Life Festival, prepare a talk”. For what? For why?
So that I can be successful at carrying out my perceived Dharma - bearing a positive message of hope and change. I was secretly loving the busy, enjoyable life I have but openly criticising myself for not being more organised, more boundaried, more focused, more directed. And even when I was allowing my heart to sing and enjoying the clouds, the garden birds, the sunshine, that thought in my head kept saying, "You still haven't applied for that licence, written that book, updated your Linked-In, freshened your website, posted on Twitter - made a 'success'...Basically the future dark clouds of what will ultimately denote 'success' were constantly overshadowing my Present Moment Joy. Result? Sleepless nights filled with over-thinking; a mind with so much on it; so many problems to solve; so many crimes against success to account for! I was quickly becoming a wreck.
Fortunately, I have calm and rational friends. A few hours spent with such a friend recently helped me look at success in a different light. The dictionary definition of success talks of 'the accomplishment of an aim or purpose' - what would it be like if our aim or purpose was to put our energy and focus into being the best 'Us' that we could be? Hmm - 'best' - another controversial word I use with caution. In this instance, I mean the most healthy, balanced, loving, contented, aware, connected, available 'Us' we can be. If we make a success of loving and nurturing ourselves, listening to ourselves, learning about ourselves, healing ourselves, correcting ourselves, it has to be a good thing. Maya Angelou writes, "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.'
Conclusion - I am giving myself permission not to write a book, not to become a licensed trainer, not to plug away at further promoting myself and my business. Instead, I intend to stand up to those voices of Guilt and Shame which cry, 'more-better-best' and make a success of living each day as it unfolds itself - providing a home within myself where I will be happy to live. That will be far more attractive to others than leaflets, cards, tweets, posts or even talks and books.
Caroline is a guest blogger for Solihull Well Being Clinic. After 12 successful years working with parents and teenagers in a Secondary School, Caroline is now following the more holistic path of Life Coaching. A registered member of the National Council of Psychotherapists, Caroline invites teenagers or parents to benefit from someone neutral to talk to, and find some effective support. Caroline is a good friend of the Solihull Well Being Clinic, and also one of it's guest writers. She is known for her witty presentations and live talks at venues such as the Tree of Life and Solihull Well Being Forum.