As I grew up, my parents didn’t teach me to measure success by dollars and cents or promotions and positions. They taught me to measure success by the level of personal enjoyment and fulfillment I obtained by each phase of my life.
I’ve watched my schoolmates go to college and land enviable jobs. I respect them for the amount of work they have put into their goals and I view them as successful. I view my brother as successful, who is an amazing example of an eternal student and I view my cousin, an endless learner who helps in every situation he can in order to learn new lessons and experience new perspectives, as successful.
I view myself as successful. Even if I never manage to land that contract with a publisher as I’ve so often fantasized, I have written four books in one year on a storyline I drafted only two years ago. That is success, of my own definition, whether the project ever reaches the heights I imagine or not. I know it has the potential to go far, and that, to me, is a huge thing of which I should be proud.
I swallowed my fear and submitted my manuscript to publishers and agents, and from that courage (which took much convincing from my very supportive friend Ireene to summon) I have a contract with Corvisiero Literary Agency. How cool is that, really? I’m still having trouble believing it. Michelle Johnson believes in my work; the agency believes in me. I’ve been floating on an absolute high of disbelief and pride – a feeling I rarely indulge – ever since. Successful? Yes, absolutely, even if I never moved up in life any further, I am overjoyed.
But today, I felt another sense of pride for another success. We harvested our garden this afternoon, pulling up enough potatoes to last us the year after giving some away. The children – Ireene’s included – played and caught frogs and squealed at worms and helped dig up vegetables all afternoon while we adults toiled away, laughing the whole time. At the end of the day, I took my kids to a bonfire with family and carried children around on my feet like shoes and over my shoulders like backpacks, eventually toppling into the grass, surrounded by laughter, love, and joy.
That is success, too. The garden, having generous friends help with the harvest, the children giggling hysterically by a bonfire while they lock me in a chair-jail for “dancing on the job” (the charges will never stick, I’m sure of it)… all of it was successful. I’m brimming with positivity tonight, and it’s because I have so many ways of measuring the joys I experience and the successes I have. And I apply those tools to my children as I teach them to measure their own success, because they should measure themselves by their own definitions, too, rather than by mine. My oldest often has days of difficult listening at school. But if she can have one good class out of the day, or come home and make it a nice, polite evening, or even just trudge through her chores and earn a high-five when they are done… that is success, too, and it is to be championed.
Treasure the little things, believe in the big things. Success is all about perspective… it’s all how you measure it.