Are You Successful?

What makes a person a success? Why does society view success in such a limited way? What is the key to true success?

This blog topic has needed more research and a longer thought-process than most. Partly, to understand the notion of what people think success is; partly to find a way to write about people’s real-life situations in a way that highlights various examples of success. This blog post is not belittling anyone’s success or life choices, just in case you do recognise a real-life example. I’m just exploring the many options that there are to success.

Imagine a successful person. What do you envisage? You would not be alone if you pictured someone in a smart, formal business-suit rushing to catch a plane, in order to complete an important job role in their busy and high-flying career. Society teaches us to think about success in this way: career, wealth and travel. If you manage those, you are successful to the world, apparently. And in many cases, this is true. But let’s open that brief case and delve a little deeper to what makes a person truly successful at life.

I’ve noticed the term “successful” be thrown around my various family and friendship groups lately – a bit like a pass-the-parcel. People are keen to pass this term “success” on to other people, but are so reluctant to keep it to apply to themselves. When, really, we all want to open that pass-the-parcel: we all want to be successful. One example at a party recently, was a comment “she’s the most successful out of all of us,” the reason being that the girl in question was a few years younger than the rest of us, and had climbed the career ladder quite high for a tender adult age. And good for her! She clearly wanted to achieve that job role and job satisfaction by that age and has accomplished it. But when did success become just about your career or job?

Many people believe that success is the key to happiness. You need to achieve great things – get that job; bring home the money; buy the house. This helps to be happy.  But what if I said happiness is the key to success? This is what I firmly believe and I will explain why… If you are truly happy with your “lot in life” whatever that may. If you have learnt from your mistakes; got a job that makes you happy; stood by your decisions and you are truly happy as a result, then I think you’re pretty damn successful.

My Dad is another example (I hope he won’t mind me mentioning him here). As he nears retirement age, he occasionally complains that he wishes he had learnt a trade, worked for himself or simply attained more of a career. Now my Dad has always worked hard  – a true grafter. He has worked his whole life, bringing home money to support his wife and two daughters. He has now paid his mortgage off and he and my Mum can now enjoy holidays whenever they like. More importantly, he was able to be a loving, dedicated husband and father who has been around for us all. If he had learnt a trade would he be any happier? Would his family? Maybe he’s have slightly more job satisfaction , but longer hours and more stress perhaps. I think my Dad’s successful at life  – and I hope he will read this when he has his next moan!

A lot of my friends have achieved jobs and moved to various big cities – or countries – as a result. They have flown the nest and gone off to be successful in the “big city”. If that is what they choose to do and want to do, then that is fabulous. What I find interesting is that a few of them have confided that they feel they couldn’t return to our small home town, as they would feel unsuccessful as a result. To me, if you are unhappy in the big city earning the big bucks (and I am by no measure, saying they are) and you want to get a different job and return closer to friends and family – and are happy as  a result of that, then that’s true success to me. It’s not about returning with your tail between your legs, it’s about making the decision to be true to yourself and doing it. Experience things and learn from it. Again, I am not assuming that people can’t be happy in addition to a high flying job in a strange city – I know not everyone is like me 😉 I’m pointing out that it’s also a success to admit that you would rather have something else in life.

Society may view me as unsuccessful. I have a below average salary that doesn’t reflect my age or education, and I still live in my small, non-eventful hometown. However, I think I am successful. There, I’ve caught the pass-the-parcel and happy to admit that I think this. I have a job that I adore and gives me job satisfaction every day (most days!) and that has led me to have small business of my own on the side. I live in my hometown because, you know what? I like it here. It’s home. And in addition to my English degree, university taught me something more important: I am a home bird. I like to live within walking distance from my friends and family. I love to travel and go on holiday, BUT my town and roots are important to me – more important than any job or any amounts of money.

Other people may view success differently and I think that’s the point. We need to define what success means to us and put it into practice. If we are doing what makes us happy in this short life, then we are making a success of it.

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Inbetween the Seasons…

As green turns to brown......

As green turns to brown…… (Kind of like Autumn and Winter hugging!)

I have just  been on a lovely Autumnal walk: green and already turned orange leaves; sunshine that has refused to bugger off from summer; a chill in the air to show that winter is about to turn up on our doorstep. Autumn is obviously a season in itself but I like to think of it as an in-between stage of the year – like the weather reflected today – a gradual blend from Summer to Winter.

As I strolled along the leave laden paths, I thought to myself as being a person who doesn’t like change. I have always thought this. Then I thought about it a little deeper and realised change is a part of life and can be a change for the better or a change for the worse. If I am having a hard time, of course I crave for a change to happen so that things can improve. Yet, if life is swimming along well, I don’t want anything to change – but of course it will; as that is life.

On a more general note though, I have never liked important changes in life – even if I know they are for the better and I have chose to make them. For example: moving house, starting new jobs, friends moving away etc. I get quite emotional and unsettled by this change and need a lot of time to adjust. Autumn is my favourite season for this reason: the gradual change from lazy summer days to cold, snuggly (or panic-stricken Christmas shopping) days. Autumn is the our settling in period. We get used to the days not being hot (not sure we actually got used to this anyway!) and as the leaves change from green; to yellow; to brown, our clothes change from bikinis; to t-shirts; to jumpers (or thermal underwear). Autumn helps us to mourn Summer and prepare for Winter  – kind of a rebound season 😉  – Well I truly embrace it.

‘The clocks slid back an hour

and stole light from my life.’

This is a Carol Ann Duffy quote from her poem Mean Time. (I wrote a blog about this idea last year: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/time-to-write/)

I always think about this poem at this time of year; as the clocks slide back, to me, it is  officially Autumn. We have set the clocks in motion for Winter to approach – we have our extra hour as a treat and then have to endure the darker nights. I think in the UK, we have a way of dealing with all this. A way to mentally prepare for this looming Winter – and that behaviour starts now, in the glorious Autumn. We plan and buy. We start to make plans for Christmas: the parties; the actual day; Boxing day; presents and cards; maybe even as far as New Year’s Eve. In the depth of the dark, bitter cold Winter days, we want and need something to look forward to: so we plan. I think by buying things to embrace Winter, also helps to get used this idea of this changing season. People seem to get just as excited at buying knee boots as they do bikinis four months before. I know I do! Autumn is a time to buy things to help you enjoy Winter: a mug for your hot chocolate; a new hot water bottle; a party outfit; a fleece throw for your bed – just as all the sunglasses, beach towels and shorts go away to the back of the wardrobe until next year. We use this in-between season to prepare for the next one – and we need it.

I also love Autumn because it is my birthday – so I feel a personal change too. Ready for the next numerical year of my life! I love the fact I was born in Autumn; what’s a bigger change than a baby? And I’m sure my Mum felt that change (almost) 28 years ago! In fact, I like to call November ‘birthday season’ as lots of my friends and family also have their birthdays in that month, so it is a time of celebration. (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/a-day-of-birth/) October has a been an odd month for me this year: I haven’t drank alcohol and have hardly been out – mainly stuck in a DIY hell at home! Haha…. so I am looking forward to fully enjoying the next part of this in-between season and doing lots of socialising and partying – all in preparation for Winter’s Christmas partying of course! 😉

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The sun reminding us it’s still here….

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So embrace this in-between season. Enjoy the changing of colours and temperatures. Relish the smells of chestnuts, warm winter soups and the leather of your new, knee boots. Plan and buy and prepare…. we have a whole season to do it. Before Winter gets us!

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