June 13, 2011

REDEFINING SUCCESS

When I was much younger (like in high school and college), I had a set idea about what success should be. I have always thought that success means that you have a high paying job (like being an executive in corporate America making a lot of money (over 6 figure is a lot of money to me). A lot of it had to do with the fact that my parents had very high expectations for me. Growing up I have always wanted to please my parents. Whatever they wanted me to do, I better make sure that I do it with 200%.

Looking back, I was extremely depressed and miserable. Because everything that I did, was not to make me happy, but it was to appease someone else. I have jumped from career to career, climbing the corporate ladder, trying to get ahead. I was so extremely unhappy, and grew more and more depressed. I started to develop heart problems and later found that I had 2 tumors in one of my breast (and I was still in my early twenties). All due to stress and anxiety.

So after I was clear of the tumors (thank goodness they were benign), I started to take a break from my "normally stressful" lifestyle. And focus more on the things that matters to me. Because who knows, if I were to continue on the same path, I might have developed a more serious illness. So I had to change my lifestyle and my perspective on life.

It was extremely hard in the beginning because I was used to making a certain amount of money, buying what I want to buy, and doing what I wanted to do. But then now I couldn't do that anymore because I didn't have the same lifestyle, job, or make the same type of money.

It took me four years (yes 4 years) to figure this out. But along the four years journey (looking back now), I used to beat myself up everyday because I thought that I was a "loser" for not making the same amount of money that I used to make. Even though I was much happier in life and I have a lot less stress. But it took a very long time for me to be able to let go of attaching a dollar sign to my happiness. Because I used to relate the meaning to success to a dollar amount. And my happiness used to depend on my level of "success," that was flawed. I am sure a lot of you do this to yourself too. Especially with the way the economy is right now, I am sure that some of you have had to down-size your lifestyle as well.

I have always been very independent, making my own money, never had to rely on anyone, and was a very successful career women. Never in a million years did I ever think that I was going to down size that status and position in life, to be working at home more often and possibly be a full time mom. I don't have any kids yet, but if I do, I would want to stay at home full time.

And then I thought of all of the mothers that are out there. Who made the choice to stay at home with their children. And I have had many of my brilliant and successful friends who have made the decision to be a full-time mom. And they don't feel like that they are unaccomplished; in fact, they feel more satisfied with their life. And almost all of them are a lot happier.

So that got me to thinking that maybe I got this thing all wrong. And now I am realizing that success is ALL in our heads. There is NO defined definition of what success really is. Because success differs per person. What is successful to you, might not mean success to me, and vice versa. I think I just had a "eureka" moment! And now I don't feel guilty for not having the career that my parents expect me to have. Now I can finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I can feel happy that I would want to stay at home to take care of my children (my husband and I are planning to have kids sometimes soon).

Because the truth is, I think that if most women, if they can have the choice, to either stay at home with their kids or having to go to work, that they would choose their family over their career. I would think that most women would rather stay at home and glad to do it. Of course, if you were at a job that you LOVE, no one said that you have to quit. And if you don't quit, that does NOT make you a bad mother in anyway. You do not and should not have to sacrifice your own happiness when you have kids. But my point here is for those women who are not climbing the corporate ladder and making millions, to know that success is not defined by a position or dollar amount. Success is what makes you feel fulfilled and satisfied with your life. That is true success.

I feel so free. I feel like I don't have to beat myself up anymore. Because I didn't have a career or position that someone else wants me to have. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am in control. I don't have to answer to anyone else but myself. For the first time in my life I am happy in my own skin. And for the first time in my life, when someone ask me what I do for a living, I don't have to be shy about it (because I feel inadequate and insecure). For the first time in my life, I can proudly answer that "I am doing what I LOVE." And that I don't care what anyone say or think of me or what I do. Because I think what I do is something really special and I am very happy doing it.

Please share with me, what success means to you!

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