Why I’m Changing My Definition Of Success

What is success, anyway? Now there’s a question for a Monday morning.

(In the interest of balance, I’ve also asked myself ‘is it acceptable to eat another almond croissant?’ and ‘when is it bedtime?’, just so you know.)

I’d originally planned to write a different post today, but yesterday I listened to a podcast episode which – without wanting to sound like an insufferable idiot – really inspired me and left me with a sense of clarity that I’d lost a few weeks ago.

I wanted to write about it this morning, to set myself up for a good week/month/year ahead, but also to help anyone else who might be feeling a bit stuck.

The podcast was Letters from a Hopeful Creative, by the mega successful* Sara Tasker and Jen Carrington.

The podcast in a nutshell, for those unfamiliar with it: each week, they read out a letter they’ve received from someone who’s stuck in a creative rut and in need of advice.

The episode I listened to was from an artist who was having some commercial success but was still feeling rubbish and ‘unsuccessful’. Why? Because they didn’t have a huge Instagram following.

The subject of Instagram being linked to success and self-worth – and why – was then discussed in detail.

And this wasn’t discussed, but it’s just crossed my mind while writing….imagine if you had just arrived from Mars, or if today was 16 July 2003. “What is this INSTAGRAM thing you talk of, pray tell?”

Getting upset about too few followers would seem very strange.

 

Alien Instagram

Of course Instagram and other social media can be a glorious thing, here on Earth in 2018.

And yes, careers have been built on it.

But for most of us, ‘success’ – whatever that means – is mainly unrelated to those Instagram squares.

And that’s the conclusion the podcast came to eventually, although I got myself in a little tizz of annoyance before they – and I – arrived at that point.

(Nothing to do with the podcast itself, I should add. More to do with me and my brain and the weather. Let’s blame the weather.)

 

Perspiration + Frustration

As I listened to the podcast yesterday afternoon, lying in bed, I started out feeling very irritated.

Irritated that it was 28 degrees outside and I was in bed, trying to nap but not napping. Graham had taken Ted to the park for an hour so I could rest, but I had checked my phone and got sucked into scrolling, hence finding the podcast to listen to.

And so while my fellas were out at the park on a sunny Sunday, I was feeling irritated that I was clogging my brain with yet more content made by other people, content that is making my mind feel congested and is taking me away from creating my own work. I was CONSUMING rather than PRODUCING (or napping). AGH.

After feeling irritated, I then felt anxious as I listened to the podcast dissect the artist’s Instagram woes, and thought about my own social media – or rather, lack of.

Oh god, I still haven’t even started on Instagram and why haven’t I started on Instagram and I need to just put stuff out there for God’s sake. Why am I lying here festering in my own perspiration listening to other people witter on when I should be OUT THERE, DOING STUFF, MAKING THINGS etc etc.

But then, on the podcast, they started talking about ‘success’ and ‘your own version of success’ and the clouds started to lift and the trees started to part and yes I was still a bit sweaty but I started feeling much better about things.

HURRAH.

 

Success = Freedom + Happiness

Specifically, I perked up when they talked about the concept of success being interchangeable with ‘freedom’ and ‘happiness’.

I realised that I’d been getting bogged down (again) with the peripheries of starting this website, rather than focusing on why I’m doing it and what my goals are i.e. what success/freedom/happiness looks like to me.

In brief, it looks like this:

  1. To continue to work for myself, so I can be there for Ted and my family, and to have control over my own time. I’ve been self-employed for over five years now and I don’t want to go back to working for someone else, having to be at a desk by a certain time (see: ‘success’ equalling ‘freedom’, for me)
  2. Specifically, I want to get paid to write, to make my money through writing rather than through PR/marketing. There are overlaps, and I currently get paid a small amount for my newspaper column. But I want to make money through this website, and through writing content for magazines and for brands I love, rather than just doing stuff I’m not passionate about because it pays the bills. Eventually, I want to write books. And why do I want to write? Because it’s what gets me in that state of ‘flow’ – when you don’t even realise you’re doing it, sometimes, and you get that feeling in your belly of ‘yes this is good’. THAT.
  3. Happiness/success/freedom is OF COURSE related to the health and happiness of my family and friends. And bringing Ted up to be a decent human, and being there whenever he needs me, and to have the flexibility to be able to finish work early to go to the park = success.
  4. I want Graham to enjoy his work and enjoy his life Monday to Friday. When we met nearly six years ago, he was a full-time musician, now he works for someone else in a ‘normal’ job and does music at weekends. Sometimes he enjoys the 9-5, sometimes not.
  5. I want to be able to swim outside every morning in the summer. And for my Monday mornings to involve almond croissants (note the plural, ha) and coffee and writing.
  6. I want financial freedom that allows me to buy nice face cream that makes me feel good and hopefully makes me look younger than 137, and to buy almond croissants and to live somewhere where I can swim outside every morning in the summer. To take Ted on amazing holidays and give him the best life possible.

At the root of all of that then, is that I need to WRITE. To get my writing out there. To not get bogged down with the fact that I don’t have a great Instagram. Or indeed any Instagram! But to write and to improve my writing and to use social media – and other means – to get my writing seen.

There’s probably another post to be written about working towards success, and the best ways to do that. My main thing at the moment though is LESS CONSUMPTION, MORE PRODUCTION.

Excuse me now while I go and stalk more people I don’t know on Instagram.

I’m kidding.

Bye for now x

*It’s funny how, right at the start of the post, I described Sara Tasker and Jen Carrington as ‘mega successful’ when the whole point is that ‘success’ is so subjective – but both have built businesses that allow them to live on their own terms…PLUS Sara’s business is a six-figure one and she owns a vintage sports car, so there’s that….

photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash

 

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