See part 1 here. This post will make a lot more sense if you do 🙂
EXTERNAL VS. PERSONAL SUCCESS
If the work you’re doing is not fulfilling to you, even if you’re good at it, you may start telling yourself that you’re incapable of accomplishing things. This can happen because the success you experience at work doesn’t really mean anything to you. I once got a position as a department manager and some people in my life congratulated me for my success. However, this position wasn’t meaningful to me. I was proud of myself for getting it but I felt that I was letting the external validation blind me into thinking that I felt personally successful. I didn’t enjoy the job and it didn’t feel authentic to succeed in that field. For me, becoming a manager is an accomplishment but it didn’t feel as real or fulfilling as writing a blog post about something important to me!
Sometimes we get caught up trying to make our lives appear successful to others. This type of success can be defined as having an important career or money or even a significant other or children. We think it’s okay to suffer in order to obtain these things because it comes across as strong, determined, or successful. We might think we need to act a certain way, be “respectable adults” or stop experiencing child-like excitement. We might think we have to pick one of the careers that’s been laid out in front of us and try to make ourselves happy with it, even though we know that it will only be tolerable. I acknowledge that there are some great jobs out there and people who love doing them but, it’s important to me that people know that they don’t have to experience life as just tolerable. You don’t exist for the purpose of appearing successful in the eyes of others. I really think life can be great if you put in the effort to make it that way and focus on what feels personally successful to you.
I feel personally successful when I do work that’s inspiring, creative, and fun and I reduce the importance of other people’s opinions of me.
DON’T GET TRAPPED IN YOUR “FIELD OF INTEREST”
Sometimes we can get caught thinking that we’re doing what we want to be doing because we’re in our “field of interest”. You don’t have to convince yourself that you’re happy working in Chapters because you secretly desire to be a writer. I love Psychology, but that doesn’t mean I need to be a psychiatrist. Doing so would only take me farther away from what I dream of doing. Don’t get caught in a job that’s in your field but not exactly it (or at least a step in the right direction). Again, this relates to personal vs. external success. Make your success personal and remember that you don’t have to make it to the “top” of your field because it is seen as the highest accomplishment to society.
You can also try multiple things! You can change directions half way through, evolve, and have multiple careers in your lifetime. It’s true that we need money to survive, so we kind of have to make it a goal to make money, but make sure you’re doing this in the best way for you. It doesn’t have to be one, straightforward path and it’s never too late to change things up.
Another way you could get trapped is by feeling pressured to figure out what you want to do with your life. You might feel like you need to have a career picked out in order to tell people (especially your parents) what you’re working towards. Don’t settle by picking something just because you feel pressured to do so. Accept that you might not know and focus on eliminating what you don’t like and gravitating towards what you do like.
THE PATH TO FULFILLMENT
In the process of making your ultimate career happen, you shouldn’t have to suffer. You’re allowed to have fun! You should enjoy the process itself, otherwise it might not be the right path for you. Of course there will be struggle, you need to make sacrifices and put in hard work, but if you’re moving towards your dream life, it shouldn’t feel too stressful, painful, or overwhelming. If it’s all contributing to you expressing who you really are and doing work that makes you feel great, it should all feel worth it and excite you to take part in.
Along your way, make sure you don’t let the side stuff masquerade as the main stuff. By this I mean don’t focus your energy on gaining external success, being respected, getting a promotion, getting a degree, or meeting others’ expectations if those things aren’t part of your path to happiness. If the job you’re currently working isn’t what lights you up, then it’s also not your main concern. This doesn’t mean you should perform terribly and get fired. It does mean that you should make sure it doesn’t take away from you working on what you love by causing you stress or slowly crushing your soul 😉 If you work a day job to do your craft of the side, make sure it inspires you and puts you in an environment where your values are valued.
HOW TO GET THERE
I want you to get really inspired. Find inspiration of how dreaming big and focusing on something you love, even if it might not be immediately profitable, can make for an amazing and personally successful life. Any topic that’s meaningful to you can now be presented to the world through YouTube, blogging, streaming, podcasting, teaching, etc. with the use of the internet. You can make things and sell them, you can provide a service, you can start any kind of business you want with enough effort. You may not be able to make a living from it right away, but it can get you in front of audiences you want to inspire and the groups of people you want to collaborate with. I think if you’re doing the work you love, things are more likely to work out in the end. You’ll likely attract the kinds of people and job opportunities that you really desire when you’re just being yourself and doing what you love.
You might also need to address the hard stuff. Stop shying away from things that feel uncomfortable, sad, or scary to think about. Face these things in order to move through them. Get comfortable with your thoughts, who you are, what you want, and what you absolutely hate so that you can start making great things happen for yourself. Don’t shy away from thinking about the things you know are holding you back. If you do, you might end up settling for less. You can always take the safe route in terms of money and security but don’t forget that this route may be extremely dangerous in terms of emotional well-being.
I want to give you a bit of a takeaway from this post to get you thinking in new ways about what your life could look like if you let yourself go for your dreams. If you want to figure out what is going to fulfill you (or at least make your life a little more enjoyable) and what’s stopping you from getting there, ask yourself these questions. Bonus points if you write down your answers 😉
Who inspires you? Think of people whose lifestyles or careers make you really excited and want to make things happen like they have!
What gets you giddy?! What could you spend hours working on/creating/learning about/doing? This doesn’t have to be a specific career and there can be more than one thing.
What obstacles are you creating for yourself? aka what excuses are you making for not doing the thing you want to be doing? Are they legitimate or based in fear? If someone looked at your “obstacles” objectively, would they still exist?
What are your fears? Judgement? Failure? Dissatisfaction? Not being perfect, ready, or good enough? Are these fears real or have you created them in your head?
Which fears are stopping you from succeeding in which areas of your life? How will you overcome them?
Is it more important to be comfortable and risk-free or to have what’s on the other side of your fears?
“But here’s the thing: having the fear is natural. Letting it stop you from going after your dreams is a tragedy.” – Zen Habits
This activity should give you more clarity on what lifestyle would make you feel personally successful and thus what you should focus on obtaining! Use your answers to remind yourself of how sometimes we stand in our own way. As a final action step, I want you to go do something you know you want to do but aren’t doing because you’re afraid! If you have something you’ve been putting off, do it. If you can’t do it right now, figure out all the steps it takes to be able to do it and do the first one this week. If you’re already doing it, congrats! Keep doing it!
Finally, ask yourself if you’re actually doing or just fooling yourself into thinking you’re making progress by learning about the subject, planning, making vision boards, manifesting, or whatever! I used to read about blogging and writing all the time and would feel like I was getting somewhere but I wasn’t publishing any blog posts! I was avoiding the thing that would ultimately move me forward. Figure out what helps you get stuff done and what is just a distraction.
For more reading material about creativity, self-development, and creating your dream life, check out my new resource page.