A successful life is one that is lived through understanding and pursuing one’s own path, not chasing after the dreams of others. – Chin-Ning Chu
What is success?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the word success. What is success and does it really make us happy? A lot of "successful" people don’t feel fulfilled when they reach their goals. Have you ever achieved a goal and then felt like it just wasn’t enough?
Many times we measure success by what we see others doing or by what other’s will think about us. We compare ourselves and then say “They look successful, I want to do that!” This can be good, because it can give us a goal to shoot for, but it also can be dangerous because we loose sight of what is actually important to us. And we forget to embrace the real reason we began doing something in the first place.
A better way
If we can get in touch with the core reasons we are going after a goal, I believe that we can feel more fulfilled, successful and happy.
Let’s take creating art for example. Let’s say I want to be a “successful” artist. But what does that mean? In my mind it might mean selling in gallery, being recognized, creating a meaningful piece of work, mastering a medium or publishing a book.
But if you break it down further…. ask yourself why do you actually want those things? What is at the core of wanting to be an artist?
For me, the core reason that I want to create is because I want to access a deeper part of myself and share part of my authentic self with others. Maybe for you, you just like the feeling of getting into the flow or working hard to create something beautiful. When you are being honest, there can also be parts of you that think if you “produce” something, you will finally feel loved and whole.
Whatever your reason, it might be different than what you originally thought. Then, you have to ask yourself…what part of my idea of “success” is really going to make me happy or fulfilled? This might completely change what you want to do. Or it can add a deeper sense of fulfillment.
Then, when I go back to learning a new technique or taking the next step to achieving my goal, and I’m frustrated, I can remind myself of my core intention and it will help encourage me along the path.
In this case, if I'm just starting out as an artist, I can begin to enjoy the parts of the learning process and even the failures because I am actually little by little accessing my authentic self and even though it's sometimes painful, I'm sharing it with others. Not for their approval, but to make myself happy.
When you are motivated by your true passion the joy is in the process as much as in the achieving. Then, if things don’t work out the way you envisioned you will still have achieved success and you will still be motivated to keep going.
Make a list of your goals or new things that you want to try
Then, write down what your core reasons are for going after those things
See if your goals change or the way that you look at them or go after them change
* This exercise was adapted from Gather the People - A book by Sarah J. Bray where she shares a simple, honest approach to creating work - I highly recommend it!
My "Finding Your Creative Voice" e-course is the perfect gift to give to a friend, relative or yourself this holiday season. The participant receives access to the e-course materials for a lifetime - it is the gift that keeps giving!
More about this e-course:
No art experience necessary!
Experiment with various mediums and styles such as watercolor pencils, pens and collage
Move past fear and into play through fun exercises that will help you loosen up and encourage your inner artist
Learn a creative process that will teach you how to create an entire project from inspiration to completion
Using your sketchbook as a guide, you will begin to see your own style emerge through observing what naturally draws you to creative flow
Gain confidence to keep a creative practice that will enrich your life
Get encouragement from others who are on their own journey and experience a warm and accepting community