motivation

Success…What is it Anyway?

What is failure anyway? Not succeeding at something we try? What is success? Financial independence, career stability, a house, a family, and maybe if we are lucky, doing what we love?

For years now, I have defined success with financial freedom. I have compared myself to friends with high paying jobs who have chosen the conventional life. The dangerous part about comparing with others who have a completely different life, different dreams, and different goals, is we never allow ourselves to see OUR success.

I grew up in a society that puts value on money as a measurement of success. I am familiar with the contradiction that money isn’t everything. However, those have been empty words as society’s actions speak louder. We are shown through propaganda and media how to make money fast, how to be financially successful, how to avoid debt, and ultimately, told this all will bring happiness. We all know this isn’t true, yet we fall into the trap just the same. But, where is the passion, the love, the fulfillment? Where is that kind of success? How can we change those empty words of “money isn’t everything” into a practice of caring, sharing, and giving?

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I was in my kitchen cutting up sweet potatoes as I was dancing and singing to India Arie in my apartment alone. The sun was setting and I had decided to force myself to take a break from work to enjoy myself. The problem was I didn’t want to stop working because of how much I love what I am doing. I get to sit in my bed with the sliding glass door open and the sun shining through. I get to hear the ocean waves and the life below my apartment. I get to write, organize, and plan my workshops and speeches. I love it so much that most nights I can’t sleep because of the excitement. But still, I wake up with such adrenaline that I am ready to take on the world. So, really, stopping to eat is the only thing I may enjoy more than working:)

As I was reflecting on my life and where I am, I started thinking about a vision I wrote last year. I wrote I would live in a two bedroom apartment with my partner, I could walk to a market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, I would around the corner to a coffeeshop (where I am writing now), I would be inspiring, motivating, and working with women, I would be speaking and writing, I would be able to see mountains from where I live, and I would be within driving distance of a body of water. Guess, what… that is 100% true. Every single part of it. The only part missing is the salary. Sadly, I made maybe 1/10th of what I wrote. (Lucky for me, I chose a country with a great exchange rate to the dollar.)

However, I have been so focused on monetary success that I had blinded myself from seeing my REAL success. The incredible thing is I have been denying myself any sort of happiness or celebration over the past few years because of my focus on what I didn’t have. I have beaten myself up over how little I have in my bank account, how I have used all my savings in order to follow a dream, and how I haven’t even begun started paying my student loans off as my friends are buying houses and getting married. But, for the first time in years, I can see how successful I am.

After having this revelation, I have decided to let go of my previous definition of success to adopt my new one. Success is loving what I am doing, being able to cook my meals and watch the sunset, making time for myself every single day to do something for me, and making time for the people I love. Success is making goals and accomplishing them and inspiring others to do the same. It is intending to do something and making sure it happens…and also knowing when to let go. Success is being within integrity of myself and my life. Success, to me, is the life that I am living. And, finally, I am ready to let myself be free and to revel in my new found definition.

Me in the sunset

Sitting on the beach in Huanchaco feeling grateful.

 

The Possibilities and Sleepless Nights

You know those sleepless nights you like awake as your mind races through what could be? The endless possibilities your life has in store and the dreams that are waiting to come true?
You lie there as excitement, nervousness,  fear, and doubt do the tango through your thoughts and your mind jumps from one scenario to the next. How? What if? What could be?
Everything is stronger at night, whether it be hope, possibility, doubt, or fear. Your eyes are tired, but your heart is full as you think of the excitement life has brought you. And you have more excitement for what is in store.

I always dreamed of the innovators, geniuses, and world changers over the centuries receiving their brilliant thoughts and projects during their sleepless nights contemplating possibility. Their hair a mess with bedhead, in pajamas, putting their pen to paper, at their most raw and vulnerable point of the day. I guess there is a romance in the silence of night as others dream and knowing you are awake making your dream come true. I always prayed that my life be used in a similar way, however intricate or grand it is supposed to be.
I want to sleep. The waves are soothing as I hear them crash outside of my window. My bed is comfortable, but as the sheets are tangled and my mattress is exposed, it look more like a warzone rather than a peaceful spot to rest. But tonight, thinking of the potential I have and the projects I am working on keeps me laying here with my eyes open. I ask for divine guidance and inspiration to write and work. And, of course, they come in the middle of the night. The clichés and stories have always warned me of that, but I always thought they were exactly that, clichés and stories. Add that to the list of things I always thought, “would never happen to me,” but have and continue to. I decide to surrender to the adrenaline and flow of excitement as the ideas flow through me as effortlessly as water pouring from a faucet. I live for these moments. When these moments happen, I try to be open, willing, and grateful. Because these ideas are more important than the hours of sleep I miss out on. I believe the power of these hours spark revolutions, movements, and world changing transformations.
So, here is to the brave souls, the movers and shakers, the inspiring and hard working entrepreneurs and their sleepless nights. Let the possibility of greatness always keep you going. May your passion and enthusiasm lead your success. And throughout it all, may you fall deeply in love with yourself and believe in the power of your dreams and possibilities. Because there is only one of you, the uniqueness of your dream, and only your once-in-a-lifetime-way of offering it to the world.