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How Do You Define Success?

I know there are no dumb questions, but there are definitely those that make you squirm a bit! A woman emailed me and wrote:

I’m thinking about becoming a coach. I saw your Web site and you look pretty successful. I was just curious if you make a lot of money, or if it’s just a “feel good” job. What’s the average salary? If you know how I can find this out, please write me back.

I’m not a numbers person. Some people write the date in numbers:

1/13/09

I like to spell out the month:

January 13, 2009

I don’t know why, there’s something about numbers that drives me a little bonkers. I guess so many things have come down to numbers, you even need to include numbers in most of your online passwords, and as a “word” person, it’s hard for me to keep track of all the combinations of words and numbers. Speaking of passwords, I also keep track of my parents’ passwords, so I have to literally keep a spreadsheet of everyone’s passwords for everything. I am sure if numbers weren’t involved, I could remember them all!

But, seriously, I think numbers are a security blanket for some people. They are a way of quantifying things, and probably more tangible for some than words. For example, many people define success by numbers: what a job pays, what’s in their bank account, what the scale says, how many bedrooms are in their home, how many hours they worked in a day. I just don’t define success that way.

Success to me is making sure I’ve kissed my husband goodnight, every night even those nights that we’re affected by the Mars-Venus thing. Success to me is tickling my almost-three-year-old, or teaching her the alphabet, or making my ten-month-old giggle by dancing around the room with him. Trust me, I have zero rhythm so it’s a funny sight for anyone around! Success is being able to do a job I love and still have peace of mind to pay my bills and have some fun! And, if money’s a little tight, success is figuring out how to budget better, knowing what’s important, and booking different types of work so it will be easier. Heck, success is even just getting a shower, lip gloss, and matching socks on before leaving the house some days!

I guess quantifying success makes it simpler for some people to judge themselves, but I think it makes it harder to figure out how to get where you want to be!! I mean, sure, we can say “I resolve to lose ten pounds.” Or, “I want to make a six-figure salary.” Or, “I only want to be married once.” Hmmm … good in theory. But, how are we going to make those things happen? I think that’s the frustrating part for most of us! It used to be the frustrating part for me, because I always only looked at the end result—what I wanted in a “numbers” way. Not being a numbers person, I always struggled with the how?

Besides, we shouldn’t be judging ourselves anyway, right?

We can live so much better, and remove the frustration of “how?” by defining in words what we really want out of our lives. Honestly, I don’t care what the scale says, but I want to have tons of energy, feel great, and have fun! Living well is a tool that helps me to do that, and yes, I’ve managed to get the number on the scale down, too! If the computer screen tells me I have X amount of dollars in the bank, it doesn’t really mean anything. But, I’d like to take my kids on day trips, go on dates with my husband, save a little for the future! Budgeting, saving, and earning are ways to help make those things happen!

So, as for the odd question, I think I’ll just answer her email with a link to this blog. Maybe it will help her to figure out if a “feel good job” will afford her whatever she defines as “success.” After all, isn’t that what it’s all about—feeling good?

How do you define success? I’d love to hear your thoughts …

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