I had the pleasure of attending a training for Junior League of Riverside this afternoon where the illustrious Vicki Clark spoke to us about organization and how to see projects through to fruition. Although I learned a great deal that will lead to successful futures for League members, I found what she had to say about Leadership and Success to be extremely advantageous. She spoke about how to view success through alternate perspectives and touched on how media is training us to view success in certain ways – for instance, basing success on money and possessions.
So, what should we base our successes on? Is success really something that can be represented by the amount of money in a bank account? The designer labels we wear on our backs? Our shoes, purses, and what shopping bags we carry around when we are at the mall? Social media has opened up a new world for the younger generations and it has caused us to be hyper aware of our “successes.” There are countless studies about how people who post everything on social media are likely sociopaths. But, does this mean that everyone who posts on social media feels this?
Personally, I post random things on my social media. I don’t plan posts and I don’t post an overwhelming amount of selfies. However, when I have a great workout or I am spending an awesome day at Fashion Island, I like to post those things. In other words, I suppose I am saying that my social media profiles are more representative of what is contributing to my happiness or what I am doing while happy.
Bringing this back to the question of what is success… For me, success is the ability to do things. I feel successful when I can spend a day reading, at the mall, the beach or Disneyland. These things remind me of the quality of life I am working for. Although we all struggle from time to time, I am happy that I have generally been in a decent position for someone my age. Yes, I struggle with the repercussions of poor financial decisions in the youth, but I have made sure that I have the means to continue to grow and become more successful.
So what is success? I suppose, I think of successes as the crossing of goals off my list. I would like to get back to Europe and see countries I have yet to visit. If I come to a place in my life where that would be feasible, that would be a success for me. Marriage, having children – those things would be successes as well. Growing in my professional career, completing my first text, publishing, making friends, all of those things would be successes for me. But keeping that in mind, I have to remember that certain success comes with time and experience. We can’t all be a Kardashian or a young pop star. Success usually comes from working hard and putting in the time to gain the experience and the knowledge that is necessary to grow within ourselves. This might even mean that our goals, and therefore, our eventual successes will adapt to our growth. And that, to me, is a success in of itself. That you can understand that you have grown and your desires have changed as well.
Yes, I wish I was rolling in money and could have everything I could possibly want and never have to think about whether I can afford to spend money. It would certainly make life easier not having to be concerned with bills and the cost of living. But, ultimately, where is the joy in that? If you can have everything you want, those things begin to lose their value. Success is ultimately a feeling. A feeling about how you are doing at this stage in your life. The people we follow on social media that help us to feel inadequate are just in a different stage of their lives, their careers, hobbies or values. We shouldn’t rely on other people, our bank accounts, cars or sneakers to determine whether or not we are successful. We should allow our personal feelings of success to guide us and help us to feel free enough to enjoy where we are currently. Focusing on how successful (or not) you will be in 5, 10, or 15 years inhibits you from enjoying any success you have attained now.
So, my advice: Be happy! Enjoy the ability to buy a latte today. The fact that you can go to dinner and a movie tonight. Not everyone has the ability to do the things we may take for granted. I can’t buy Gucci tennis shoes but I can buy Nikes. That is a success. And, if I do purchase Gucci tennis shoes someday, I will know that I worked hard and I attained many levels of success on my way to that. But the shoes won’t represent that success, the personal joy I had along the way doing the things I could do, will be representative of my success.