Why Fighting for Success Leads to Anxiety and Failure

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One of the things that triggers anxiety for many is the pressure to be "successful". For myself, success has always been defined by what society tells us success looks like - lots of money, a good job, owning a nice house, buying lots of things, getting married and having kids. A great deal of my anxiety stemmed from trying to fulfill those rigid standards when they are not congruent with what my soul truly needs. I do want kids, but only because I have a serious mothering instinct and I think Isaac will be an amazing father. I want to get married, but I do not want a wedding. Rather than a huge house in the city, I would be prefer to live in a VW Bus and be a traveling gypsy or own a small home in a mountain or ocean town. Having lots of money is not a priority - I just want us to be comfortable and be able to travel. And don't get me started on a "good job" - I had that, and then a nervous breakdown. My dreams involve being a gypsy, reading cards, making dream catchers, writing, selling Isaac's prints, and raising kidlets. Living this lifestyle might very likely might give my father a heart attack.

How a Simple Question Changed it All

It wasn't until I started interviewing individuals running their own businesses that I realized how ingrained in me this ideal was. I would ask the question "what has been your biggest success?", and many would struggle to answer. Many hadn't achieved what we usually are told is a success - most did not make a ton of money, the first thing people think think of when we are asked about success in business. It wasn't until Blake Ward of Seed Yoga straight up told me that he doesn't define success the "normal" way that I clued in. I had never really realized that you can define success in your own way, and it was SO LIBERATING. Now, the question is "how do you define success?". One answer that has stuck with me came from the founders of Free Spirit Collective, Kori Leigh and Kaihla Tonai. To them, success is showing up in an honest and authentic way, regardless of the outcome. I loved that, and have started to incorporate it into my own philosophy.

Why Our Society is Flawed

One of the things that kept coming up in program was how society only rewards outcome, not effort. I logically understood that, but because I was still defining success based on these arbitrary endpoints, I struggled. I still considered myself a failure because I am currently unable to obtain any of those things or even spend my days in a way society would value. By thinking of success as showing up and putting in the work, regardless of outcome, I gave myself space to be human and do my own thing. Especially at a time like right now, when my purpose is focusing on healing.

If the only thing I pay attention to is the outcome, like a total, complete recovery, I'm never going to be successful. The anxiety will never truly away, and it will keep coming back. By shifting my focus instead to showing up everyday and just trying, whether that means meeting a friend for coffee or just getting out of bed, success is much more attainable.

How I Define Success

For myself, I am starting to look at it as following my intuition. This includes showing up, but my intuition also leads me to do things that help the world and things that support others. It means sharing my voice and my spirit, and connecting with others who are following their own path. If sharing my words can make a difference in even one person's life, than that is success.

I feel successful when I listen to my gentle inner voice rather than the overwhelming, loud ones, both inside my head and "in the real world". It means setting strong boundaries for myself and honouring where I am at that day. In doing so, I listen to what I need to be okay - whether it's getting up and going out for coffee, or staying home and taking a nap. Success is trust, grace, authenticity and vulnerability. Success is the self awareness to be able to define for yourself what is successful.

How do you define success?