Success. What is it? What does it look like to you? Is it a daily endeavor you reach for? Is it a long term goal? Is it driven by your career? Your relationship? Your family? What exactly is success to you?
Like many people, I am full of doubts. Doubts about myself, my skills, my gear, my choices. I've been doing this "Life" thing long enough that I've figured out how to quiet those doubts when necessary. I don't really listen to that annoying voice anymore when it tells me I'm not good enough. Instead, I try to figure out what it is that makes me feel that way. Why is it inside of me to feel inferior? What is it about my competition or challenger or esteemed colleague that makes me feel that way? Is it jealousy? It is a complex? Am I paranoid? Defensive? It seems each situation is always a little different from the others, but the truth is, that negative feeling that creeps up from time to time is my cue to stop what I am doing and take a look at the reasons why I am doing it.
For me, success is a multi-tiered and expansive ideology that is deeply rooted in my life experiences, my family, my journey through motherhood and my constant drive to learn more. It's a pretty complex and unorganized equation in my head that is constantly changing. I think the fact that my idea of success is dynamic means that it is easier for me to achieve. I set my sights on a goal, get that goal, then make a new goal. But where do goals and success cross paths? Does completing a goal mean I have attained success? Is there a set number of goals that must first be completed? Is success like playing a video game and completing the levels? Is it like killing the boss at the end of each level? Is it just getting up in the morning? For me, it's more about personal wins and evolving with my surroundings.
Evolving is the essential component of the entire concept. At the start of February this year, I was considering a trip to Scotland and rolling my eyes as my father lectured me about our current political environment and how international travel just isn't safe right now. I thought how ridiculous and even considered the trip without letting him in on it. Then suddenly in March, I had to have gall bladder surgery and that trip to Scotland was the last thing on my mind. Recovery from the gall bladder surgery was relatively smooth (a couple small hiccups), but with spring coming, my mind started to turn back to my coming wedding photography season. My goals began to transition to equipment needs, funding, rentals, taxes and then I came across a program for fledgling authors. I'm not going to list the link to the company here, but I was hooked, I was watching their videos and slowly falling down the rabbit hole sales funnel they had created. I was ready to start figuring out how to come up with $10K to start writing my book and getting it published with the help of this program. In fact, I signed up. I was literally writing my essay for my application when a phone call came in on my phone that I ignored. Suddenly my goals had shifted to figuring out how to come up with $10K quickly (or at least the sum of it that I didn't already have in my savings), so that I could start working on my book.
The thing is, that phone call changed everything. It was my dad's neighbor calling to tell me he was in the hospital. I would spend hours trying to get a hold of him on the phone. Eventually I would get through to him and have a 5 minute phone conversation with him. It was the last time we talked. He died from a perforated intestine the next morning. That book was instantly out of my mind. No where on my list of priorities. Now my only goal was to figure out how to bury my dad. How to take care of his house. What was probate? How much do coffins cost? Everything changed.
The next month I would go through the exact same experience a second time and bury my 43 year old brother. It was just as difficult the second time as the first. In fact, it was even harder. A month later, I would wake up with no feeling from my hips down and lose the ability to walk. A month after that I would be in surgery having my spine operated on.
Goals change. Your definition of success, also will change. Today my definition of success is dependent on the engagement shoot I have in about an hour. It's my first shoot since surgery. I'm filled with anxiety and doubts. I'm paranoid and worried that I will fall or lose my balance. I'm actually kind of worried that I won't remember what to do. For some reason 6 months without shooting feels like an eternity and my mind is doubting everything. Right now, success to me... getting through this shoot, proving to myself I can do it and ending the year with a return to what I love.
Be willing to adapt and evolve with each hurdle. Be willing to recognize the moments that things are going well, even if they're just "OK" and not "Amazing". Be willing to be happy with a concept of success that evolves over time. Small wins lead to big victories. Don't overwhelm yourself with some outlandish definition of success that you might never attain. Be realistic, evolve with your surroundings and adapt to the situations that unfold around you and success will be more easily attainable!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!