What is Success?

The last six months I’ve moved and moved.  I guess if you count running a marathon with 50,000 people and meeting various bloggers and Oiselle teammates then yes I’ve been relatively social.   At some points I catch myself feeling sorry for myself as if I am upset for choosing the series of events that eventually led me to New Jersey.

I don’t know why I would even begin to feel sorry for myself since I’m completely happy in my area, I love who I’m living with and I’m happy with myself mentally.  Despite still not having a job and actively looking, everything else is my life is so positive.

I know for me personally I am my biggest critic.  When I race I have always found the imperfections of a race, whether it is taking the race out too quickly, too slowly, being boxed in…ect.  I even go as far as to find imperfections in races that I cannot control such as weather or temperature.  When someone gives me a compliment I find myself accepting it but talking about how I could be doing better.  Or what I could do to be better.  For instance if someone says “nice hair”, I might say thank you but it needs a trim.

I’ve always been extremely hard on myself trying to meet certain criteria that I feel will satisfy and cause me to feel successful and happy.  A new PR in a race?  A new haircut that makes me feel stylish?  Working 50 hour weeks to pay for bills?  The list is endless.  I’m honestly not sure the list ends.

It’s important for me (and us) to realize that while you can have everything you put your mind too, it isn’t feasible to believe that you would truly be happy with every single thing.  When I was working 50 hour weeks I was working, running and occasionally seeing friends.  Was I 100% happy?  No, I wasn’t living with who I am now and found myself wishing I was.  I wasn’t as social as I could be and I often missed important events due to work or to get training in.  I made the choice several times to hang out and be social versus training…but then my training suffered.  I made the choice several times to train versus going to a late night movie…but then my social life suffered.

Sure I was happy because I could afford the things I wanted but I was not truly happy.  My time was spent wishing I had more personal or free time.  I was wishing to have everything in life, bake a cake and eat it too.

Now that I’m unemployed I’m wishing I had a job that will satisfy my needs of what I want to do.  I’m wishing I had less free time and working hours to be able to afford everything I want.  I’m wishing that I had a job that I enjoyed again.  Oddly enough I truly miss working.

I guess what I’m getting at here is that in life you have to prioritize and have balance.  As I grow older I’m slowly learning that.  While there is no one size fits all perfect life,  you can be happy without succeeding in every single life event or thing.  You do not have to “do it all” to be happy.  I have developed a life mantra that you are successful only if you are happy.  Whether you are happy by working out, by working, by being with a significant other, you must be happy to be successful.  Truly happy both inside and out.  That is something I have been working on and I can honestly say I feel I’m accomplishing each day.

Question for you: How do you define success?

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  1. I agree, success is happiness! Not superficial happiness, but deep happiness. I would also throw in there feeling “content.”

  2. Honestly I just define success by my own happiness. What causes that happiness is different at different points in my life but I’ve never understood the drive to do all kinds of crazy things to be successful to the greater world (i.e. 70 hour weeks to get a promotion or something) if it takes from you the free time that allows you to do the things that make you truly happy. I’d rather stay in my current position that isn’t as prestigious but have time for family and friends and running and socializing. I have ambition, I’m just careful about where my priorities are.

  3. ‘you are successful only if you are happy’ wow I need to remember that one. I am right there with you in the fact that my biggest critic is myself. which is a big downer, and I know something i need to work on overall

  4. Very similarly. The only thing I would add for me is to be at peace, too. I’ve been my own worst critic for years, and it took me to some dark places. Thankfully, the past few years have slowly found me pulling myself out of that and moving on to better things, but I still wrestled often with self doubt (still do when i get really stressed). Peace for me goes hand in hand with happiness…peace in what I do and say and how I interact with others, make decisions, etc. So peace and happiness are success in my book

  5. I had a hard time prioritizing my happiness and success for years, but now, at 36, I feel I’ve got it down. Even when bad things happen, I’ve managed to stay happy and work through them. I think we constantly need to be working on that, but I also feel a lot of that realization comes with time (and unfortunately age…lol).

  6. I think success if being happy. Simply and truly that. Not having everything but being content with what you do have.

  7. You’ve hit the nail on the head in regards to what it means to be happy. Although accomplishing tasks makes us happy, it’s more the contentment within our lives and “inner being” (that sounds so corny) that truly makes us happy no matter the state of our external affairs.

  8. Nice honest post. You’re definitely right in realising how important balance is!

    Lately I’ve been thinking that success is defined by 2 parts, and they aren’t exactly mutually exclusive from each other:

    1) Financial success – which I define as having enough to never worry about money for the rest of your life.

    2) Personal freedom success – being free to do what you are most passionate about. Choosing to do what makes you happy the most, is some degree of successfulness. Even if that thing that makes you happy isn’t financially lucrative, not initially anyway.

    Ultimately the 2 are linked, in that if your children are going to resent you because you can’t financially support their schooling or nutrition, that’s also going to affect your inner happiness. So success is a sum of the 2.

  9. This is a great post Hollie! I like to define success that way too…I have the mantra “do what makes you happy”.

  10. What a great post!
    A year ago I was working a job where I’d work 12-14 hours days. I was challenged and always using my brain, but I was miserable. I was so exhausted after work I wasn’t running and I could barely find time to do laundry and buy groceries.
    Now I’m in a job where I’m not as challenged, but I have time to do the “other” things: see friends, run, be organized. I know that right now, there is where I need to be. I don’t think I always want to be in a job where I’m not as challenged as I’d like, but I find having a personal like to be so important for MY mental well-being.

  11. Yes, finding the things that make you happy and CHOOSING to be happy regardless of circumstances is worth so much more than how much money you make or other “successes”… this post reminds me of the “if only” syndrome. It’s so easy for us to always be looking to the next thing and we forget that if we’re not happy where we are now, it’s unlikely to change when xyz changes. Glad to hear you feel like you’re in a good place with this!

  12. Great post Hollie.

    Right after college, I got a job that was pretty horrible. Now, it started out great for the first 5-6 months, but then got to the point where all I did was work, and when I wasn’t at work, my life was consumed about thinking of work. The other person I worked with ended up going out on maternity leave super duper early so I was stuck with my work and her work (btw, when I left the company, they ended up having 3 writers… yeah I was the only one doing at that work when I was there, so you can imagine). I made money but was so miserable and depressed. I was sick ALL THE TIME, on antidepressants, cried a lot, etc. I went to the doc and ended up getting placed on a medical leave. My coworkers were emotionally abusive to each other and I remember a guy getting the third degree for taking a lunch break (30 minutes to go to McDs) because it was a sign of strength at the company if you never went to lunch. I got to the point where I was going to quit and work at Wal*Mart until I found my current job.

    The sad thing is, I was working in my field, using my degree, etc… but wanted to give it up just bc I knew I’d be happier doing something way beneath my educational level but being happy. I would have liked any other job better and probably been successful working at a gas station compared to the first job. Having money is nice but honestly, as long as you have enough to get by- pay all your bills, pay off your loans, have savings and retirement, and some for extras, you are good.

    I know you want a job… and you will find one, just be patient with it. You have your whole life to work, and you have moved and not been out of college for very long. I do hope something comes your way soon :). But I hope when it does, it will be something that makes you happy as well!

  13. Your mantra WINS. I feel like I was in your exact situation just last year before I got a job. I learned a lot about myself in that time period by myself.

  14. This is a great post Holly. Our success is all based on individual opinion and beliefs. One is good for one is not always good for the other. Just because people “look” happy and successful does not always mean that they themselves feel that way.

  15. If you are happy then you are successful. Some people need to make a million dollars, some people need to be famous, some people need to work alone in a dark room all day.

    I think that we always view the grass on the other side as being just a bit greener, no matter how hard we try not to. Rose coloured glasses? How about green tinted? I have a job that pays my bills but seems to be sucking the life out of me. Fortunately I have running and some friends to keep me going. I also know I’ll be hoping that fence someday!

  16. Happiness definitely means success for me too. If you honestly enjoy what you’re doing, then it’s much more likely you’ll give it 110 percent–and if all goes well, then it’s a greater chance you’ll be successful.

  17. I love that. It’s interesting because I’m currently taking a course at my uni titled What is Happiness? where we literally discuss what happiness is. There’s been some debate about it being when you do what you like and are successful or whatever, but I believe what you said is true. Being happy and being successful are the same thing. Hopefully your success brings you happiness, and hopefully you’re happy with your success.

  18. I think this is definitely what I strive for, but it’s hard! Kind of like thinking that when something ends, I’ll have so much more free time. That doesn’t happen! But overall, I’m generally content with where things are. And at least now, even if things aren’t perfect in life, you have Tim by your side!

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