Another school year has ended and now comes the much awaited summer vacation by teachers and students alike. I had the honor of spending my last day of school with a beautiful group of grade 12 students, who will be moving on next year to find their own path to success.
As we know, the path to success is different for everyone, as is the meaning of success . For some it might mean the accumulation of wealth and material possessions, or it might mean working at that job we love – which may or may not pay well. It might mean raising our children, so they achieve whatever it is that we hope for them.
In any case, what we consider to be the mark of success tends to involve a combination of factors dependent on what we want in life, where we are in life, and what we value. And our idea of success will help determine the path we choose to get there.
So this got me to thinking about what success means to me at the tail end of my forties, and whether I’m on the right path. I make a point of checking in on myself every now and then to see how I’m doing.
The first thing that came to mind when I considered the idea of success, was the concept of happiness. First and foremost, for me, success now means that I’m happy – especially with myself. And as I take a quick look back, I realize that I was searching for happiness all along. It was during my search for happiness that I found success.
It would seem that Albert Schweitzer had it right when he said “Happiness is the key to success.” A smart man.
I did make the practical decision to become a teacher, thereby gaining financial security. But I could’ve chosen any number of careers based on my strengths and interests. I chose teaching because I wanted to make a difference and have a positive impact on teenagers. My decision has made me very happy over the years.
And for me to be happy with myself, I need to stay true to who I am. I can’t and won’t compromise my values and morals for the sake of some perceived greater purpose. There is no greater purpose than my integrity.
So what else makes me happy? Easy – respect as a mother, wife, teacher, colleague, author, etc. How do I achieve that respect? By earning it through my words and actions, and showing the same respect to others. We can’t expect others to respect us if we don’t return the favor. It’s a two-way street.
Next, learning and growing brings me happiness. But just how am I to keep learning and growing as a person? By embracing each challenge with open arms and seeking new growth opportunities whenever possible – like creating this blog and self-publishing. It means stepping outside my comfort zone – which I don’t do enough, and furthering my understanding of what I already know.
And you’ll notice the changes on my blog. Nothing dramatic, just enough to fulfill the need to learn a little something new, while spicing things up a little. However, the difference those small changes made to my mindset were well worth the effort. I’ve been wanting to create a landing page for a while now, and although it’s a very simple page, I’m happy with it. During another need for change, maybe I’ll gussy it up a little – and again, learn something new.
Happiness for me also means cultivating positive relationships with family and friends. I do this by taking time to connect with my husband, daughters, sisters, mother, friends, etc., when I can. It might not always be much, a quick text to ask how someone is doing, for example. My daughters know I’m there for them at the drop of a hat if need be. My husband and I clear our schedules every evening to spend time together.
Last but not least, as I’m fond of saying, true happiness means loving myself enough to spend time with me as well. Spending time with myself doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be as simple as my evening bath, a walk while listening to my favorite playlist, or reading the next novel calling my name. The point being is that I take the time to care for myself. This in turn, gives me more energy for other aspects of my life. A win-win in my book.
Remember that success equals happiness for me. It also equals enough money to pay the bills, save for tomorrow, and take the scatter holiday. By my standard, I’ve achieved much of the success I want.
Most of what I’ve mentioned so far has come up on one blog post or another, which goes to show how important these topics are to me.
As a teenager, I learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in biology class. It struck a cord with me. At the top of the pyramid is the need for self-actualization – the achievement of our full potential. Somewhere within my sub-conscious, I’ve always wanted to reach the top of that pyramid, and I’ll keep climbing until I get there. And when I do get there, I’m sure to find another road. My journey is far from over.
During my climb to the top of Maslow’s pyramid, I’ll continue to establish myself as an author by sticking to my value of hard work and desire to keep learning.
I should probably step out of my comfort zone more often as well, if I’m to know greater success as an author.
I didn’t realize that I wasn’t stepping outside my comfort zone nearly enough until writing this post. The next question is why. But that would be the subject for another time.
To conclude, because writing this post was a bit of an eye opener for me, I’d like to suggest that you write your own success/happiness manifesto. You never know what you might discover about yourself…
Well that’s it for this week. Until next time, be kind to yourself. And don’t be shy, I love hearing from you.