To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Because you’re reading this, because I’ve managed to reach you across oceans and mountains, I feel like a successful blogger. If any of my words inspire or touch you, even for a moment, I’ve succeeded as a writer.
How do you define success, not just in your business, career or blogging ventures, but in your life? How will you ever know if you’re ‘successful’ if you never define what success means to you, as a unique individual?
I went to bed happy last night, feeling fulfilled, tired and satisfied – that feeling you get when you tick all the boxes on a To Do list, only I had no To Do list. I’d re-examined what I need in order to feel successful in every part of my life; in doing so, I’d managed to fill my day doing the things I’d identified as being necessary for my happiness.
My ‘online work’ is only one spoke on my wheel of life. My aim for that aspect of my life yesterday was ‘Stay logged off.’ That was it. A decision to honour my family and celebrate the sunshine.
The other spokes on my wheel (or petals on a daisy, boxes in a grid – however you visualise all the areas of your life) are my relationships with
- my husband,
- my kids,
- my birth and extended family
- and my friends.
I also have spokes for
- my health,
- my finances,
- my environment,
- my contribution to society,
- my spirituality and
- what I call FLIRT – Fun, Leisure, Interests, Recreation and Travel
As you can see, the spoke called career/work is only one part of my life.
How many spokes/life areas would you have in your wheel of life?
From success you get lots of things, but not that great inside thing that love brings you. ~ Sam Goldwyn
The trick to feeling happy is to make sure you know what it would take for you to feel ‘successful’ in every, single one of those areas today.
If you define blogging success by numbers – Feedburner subscriber stats, Google Analytic statistics for visits, length of time a reader stays on a page, number of pages per visit, the amount of affiliation money you earn etc – then you can set yourself daily, weekly, monthly ‘number’ targets. But what about the things that can’t be measured so easily in numbers? The heartfelt comments, the tales of triumph or words of support that bring tears to your eyes? That post that left you feeling Wow! That was the real me!
What about about quality time with your loved ones? How many hours do you aim to spend with them? What do you plan to do with them today, this week? What’s the minimum time spent doing non-work things that would allow you to go to bed happy, knowing you’d ‘succeeded’ as a spouse, a parent, a son or daughter, a loving friend?
To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the oportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is how I desire to waste wisely my days. ~ Thomas Dekker (c. 1570 -c. 1641)
One way you could go to bed every single night feeling satisfied and successful, fulfilled and proud of yourself is to dig deep and ask yourself how you define success for every single spoke in your wheel of life. Then take one wee step, every day to get you closer.
What would you like to achieve today, this week, this year in every one of those areas?
Yesterday, I decided that to feel like I hadn’t let my kids down, I would have to be able to go a whole day without saying “Could you just wait a wee minute, sweetheart; I’m trying to post something and this is taking ages to load and if I leave it now, I may lose it.”
To be a good wife, I wanted to cook my husband a Sunday evening meal he’d really love, something with wine, garlic and cream served with a glass of sparkling rosé; I wanted to listen much, much better than I have been.
To improve my environment, my aim was to clear one of my clutter hotspots and empty the ironing basket.
To feel healthier, I drank less coffee and more water.
And so on, with every area of my life.
I often combine aims so that each daily goal has a beneficial effect on more than one area of my life. For example, a bit of gardening as a family brings us closer together, keeps me fit, saves us money, makes our environment more beautiful, feeds our spirit and enables me to pass on flowers, seeds and cuttings to others.
Blogging has been good for my finances, friendships and FLIRTing, but in reality, it’s been a bit of a cuckoo, knocking all the other chicks out of the nest.
How do you define success – down to the details – in every area of your life? How do you plan to love your loved ones better today? What will you contribute to make the world a better place?
And remember to log off and do some FLIRTing – have some Fun, Recreation, Leisure, Interests and Travel, (even if travelling’s just a walk through the park to your local market.)
(This post was originally published in June, 2009. The concept’s not new and you’ve heard it a million times before, but it bears constant revisiting. I wish I could get it out to more folk; in these days of social media numbers-based depression and low self esteem, it’s still relevant. Please share it on Twitter or Facebook if you think it’s a message worth putting out there. )