Success: What does it really mean to you?

By Lisa Brooks

When you think of the word success, what images does it bring to mind? Does it conjure up a specific dollar sign amount, a goal reached, a specific number of coaching clients?

A few weeks ago, I attended a gathering where each person was asked to introduce him or herself and to say a little about their lives. Everybody began with their name and then said what they did for a living. In the past, I could have said I work for a reputable car company, or I work for the local phone company, and I would have received smiles of recognition and a sense of pride at my own words. But when it came to be my turn to speak, I was like a young boy trying to ask out the prettiest girl in school. My face got red, I began to stammer, and all fluent phrases were illusive to my tongue. I do not actually remember what it is I said. My inability to speak out about myself really bothered me. I began to wonder what was wrong with me and what had happened? Aren't I supposed to be proud of myself, who I am, and what I have accomplished? Where did all this self-doubt come from?

I am a wife, mom of three young children, I am a part-time coach, writer of articles for websites and magazines, I wrote two songs this year with actual lyrics and piano accompaniment, I can finally make a loaf of banana bread that tastes good, and I make a concerted effort to work on myself improvement goals. For the first time in my adult life, I feel less stressed out, more in balance, and I have clear goals of what I want to accomplish. So, where is the pride in myself?

Let’s go back to my original question. I may be happy, and content, but I am not my own definition of success. When I think of success, I think of debt free living, a steady biweekly paycheck, somebody established in his or her career, and I look in the mirror and I am none of these. I have debts, I don't know if my articles will sell from week to week or if my coaching clients will decide to take a break this month, and I'm still floundering around trying to figure out how to copyright a song. I am a continual work in progress who is looking to redefine my own definition of success.

I began to ponder where my own thoughts of success originated and began to dig deep within myself to find the roots of where my feelings of self-doubts began and got an astonishing wake up call.

Things people said to me over the years that I had buried as painful but good advice came to the surface. Writers are lazy ran circles in my head. Music is great, but you can't make a living that way so don't bother to take college classes just make it a nice hobby stung my pride all over again.

Beliefs I had held because that was what I was taught as a child came back to haunt me to give them a second look. He does not have a steady job so he is lazy or a failure. Do not be stuck at home as a mom, get a career with a real pay check because money equals success.

What beliefs do you have about success that paints your view of yourself? What have other people said or done in your own life that caused mental and emotional roadblocks on your own path of life? These are important questions to think about. Could your own inner definition of success be tying you down and holding you in place?

I feel a lot freer in my mind and spirit for contemplating this whole idea of success. A weight I did not know I carried has been lifted off my shoulders. Although, my self-doubts will pop up from time to time, I have a better grip on them knowing where they come from and I can really work on their core.

Now, when I think of success I do not see dollar signs, but a newfound respect for the dynamic human spirit. Success according to myself is a person who wakes up in the morning with a passion for life and who is striving to be the best person they can be both on the inside and the outside. It does not need to be the old thought and belief patterns of the past.

What is your personal definition of success?

Lisa Brooks is a work from home business and employment coach and consultant. She has worked from home since 1998 as both an independent contractor and employee for various companies. She is a certified Self-Discovery Coach™ and holds a computer technical certification for adaptive technology for people with disabilities. 

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