Living Your Truth Podcast: Ep. 15 Defining Your Very Own Version of Success

Today’s episode is about why it is important to define our very own version of success and also naming the metrics we are going to measure our success against. I am sharing my lived experiences of learning to question the preconceived notions of success. Also, I’m sharing a few journaling prompts for you to start this journey of redefining success for yourself.

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Transcript of the episode:

Today I am going to share the lesson that brought me a ton of personal freedom in the way I show up in my creative work and life and that is:

You are allowed to define your own version of success.

I wish someone had told me this earlier that I had permission to choose it for myself. I wish I saw it modeled. I wish someone had shared how it is possible to redefine and reframe things in a way they work for me and not against me. So here today, I want to open up a conversation for a year younger me and tell her and you that you are so allowed to define your own version of success.

You don’t have to give in to the previously defined or designed versions of success that don’t sit well with your values as a person. You get to choose. You have the power to choose. This mindset shift was an eye-opener for me.

I believe we all have different versions of what we perceive to be successful. We all have different perceptions of what success looks and feels like for us. Our very own version of success helps us understand what we want from our creative work and lives. Success is a subjective term.

For me getting on with questioning the traditional definition of success and thinking it through on my own terms enabled me to get a better understanding of what I wanted from my creative work and life practice. I hope this episode sparks something inside you and inspires you to do the same for yourself. I hope it serves as a reminder for you as much as it is for myself that we get to define what our lives could look like when we put intention into our approach, our work, and the way we show up in our work and in our lives. Also, when we make an intentional choice of practicing courage by naming, claiming, and shaping it up on our own terms in our own unique, messy, and human way. Knowing exactly what we are after, what we are striving for and towards, and why we are striving in the first place is the perfect cure for days when we are feeling overwhelmed and stuck. It reminds us of why we started in the first place and what will happen, what is, in fact, possible for us too if we just keep going.

Coming back to success being a subjective term, and how everyone has their own meanings associated with it. It is different for all of us because we all have different desires, dreams, and ways in which we feel fulfilled and happy. This is not to judge yourself or anyone else for wanting what they want but to be intentional. Some want to have well-paid jobs, others want to travel, some want to have enough time and space to be with their family, others want to have a fulfilling career, some want to own a beautiful house, and others might simply want the space and time to be doing what they love.

It goes without saying, what works for me might not work for you. You might want something entirely different from life and that’s perfectly okay. You are allowed to want what you want, and it is okay if your version looks wildly different than anyone else’s. Every single version is unique. It has to be unique, right?

As we are all wired differently. We are all unique in our own way. We are the same in many ways but we are also uniquely different from each other. As human beings, we contain multitudes. Living breathing human beings with different expectations and wants and desires and dreams. There are no right or wrong answers here.

Every version is individual and true to what that person really truly desires.

We also have a culturally suitable version, the traditional version of success. While growing up we all picked up a rather similar image of what success should look like, especially with the rise of consumer culture: fancy jobs, fancy clothes, fancy houses, and fancy cars. We learned to believe there is only one acceptable and widely popular way of being successful. We all learned about those markers of success. Sub-consciously we still are striving for the same version of success. If you notice yourself wanting to have something just because you think you should have it not because you truly desire it – that’s a sign of our cultural conditioning. I want you to start paying attention to that and notice when it comes up as following this version of success will leave you feeling miserable and empty inside.

Your version is yours and yours only.

As for me, success right now is you listening to this episode and giving me a chance to help you figure out your version of success in your creative work and life. I’m honored to be welcomed in your thoughts and life as a part of your mindful moments. It could mean something entirely different for you at this very moment, anything that you can possibly imagine.

In a much broader sense, success to me is living a wholehearted, courageous and creative life not heroic but brave in subtle ways where I can live my truth out loud, explore my curiosities as I go, share what I am learning, what I believe in, be of service in ways I can and inspire others to do the same.

To be able to name it and work towards it, I needed to unlearn the culturally suitable version of success and question all those stories that were attached to it and it started unfolding me something like this: After graduation when I started my corporate career, I didn’t think there was any other way possible. You get a job. That’s what you do when you graduate, right?

I found the whole experience of jobs energy draining. Before we moved and I got a chance to work from home, experience the freelance life and learn how making an online business is possible, I didn’t know it existed. I know it existed but it never occurred to me that it was for people like me, too. That’s when I realized I always had this choice but not enough exposure, experience or understanding that it was possible. and add the lack of self-belief to that list too. Anyway, not a single person in my real life was working as a freelancer or a creative business owner or even as a creative.

Where I grew up and the time I grew up the most accepted and expected professions included engineers and doctors. A creative profession was not on the list. Not a single person from my maternal or paternal side ever studied any creative profession and nor did I knew anyone in our community circles that was in a creative profession so in my head it didn’t exist. It wasn’t even an option. I didn’t know that it was possible. Only when I almost accidentally learned about the graduate program in design, it felt like a door to a new world that I didn’t know existed but it was there all along.

I don’t know about your experience but where I come from we also have a cultural story around pursuing arts or design – any creative career is pursued by only the people who can not do anything else end up studying art and design because that’s the thing anyone can do and it doesn’t really have a substantial role in the society. I really do believe we are all creative no matter what career path we choose and I wholeheartedly believe in the role creativity plays in the society. I remember picking up this story that people who study art are somehow below people who study pre-medical or pre-engineering.

I am talking about the time when I grew up and these were mostly the only options available. I hope it is different now though but I still think it is not that different after all. This whole experience taught me that we need to question what we perceive as successful.

I vividly remember another story that I picked up around creativity while growing up. Art and being creative is a luxury. A luxury and not a necessity. It is something you do as a hobby and not for a living. I might talk about it in a whole another episode as it is a huge block for so many other creatives as well and this story needs it’s own dedicated time for uncovering and reframing.

Only now in retrospect, I can tell you that I was able to articulate these sneaky stories and redefine what kind of success I wanted and now from my lived experience, this is the lesson that I can share with you too.

Anyway, for me, it didn’t stop there. As soon as we moved here. I was finding myself in identity crises as I used to define myself with the job title I had before and now obviously I didn’t have any. I started searching for jobs fanatically. It was super uncomfortable before I learned the freelance way of doing things. This allowed me to analyze how much I actually enjoyed working from the comfort of my home. The introvert in me loves deep connections but social anxiety makes me uncomfortable in social settings which makes working in the big corporations really hard, challenging, and energy draining.

I guess the message here is that I thought I needed to have a job or I won’t feel good about myself but me redefining my version of success on my own terms allowed me to have the kind of life I wanted, envisioned and really needed.

I want to encourage you to find out what that version looks and feels like for you. It could be anything that your heart truly desires. This clarity of thought will make you a bit closer to what you want from your creative work and life and what you want it to look like. It will become much easier to cut through the noise and focus all your attention on what truly matters to you.

Here I would like to point out that it is definitely easier said than done. Challenging preconceived notions is not an easy thing to do. It requires emotional labor and courage. It requires you to choose courage over convenience, every single time. And I know you are brave enough to set the rules on your own terms. Instead of impulsively following and acquiring the accepted norms, you can choose to interpret your truth in a way that feels right for you. It is okay if the definition of your success is not in accordance with the traditional definition of success. Not that you are looking for, or need to look for permission outside of you but, in case, you are looking for a permission slip, here’s one for you to define it in your own way.

Okay. so now a few action steps for you

I encourage you to question the version of success you think you should have with a more deeper and relevant question

  • what are you really after? More freedom, more time, more joy, or what is it?
  • How can you shift those markers of success for yourself according to what you truly desire from your creative work and life?
  • What would it look like for you to feel successful and fulfilled in your creative work and life?
  • And, most importantly, how are you going to measure your success?
  • What metrics are you going to measure your success against?

You can choose the metrics you will measure your success against keeping in mind your very own version of success and what feels right for you.

Once you do come up with a definition of what your version of success looks like and feels like, I want you to remember this – Your definition of success is allowed to change depending on which season of life and creative work you are in. It is subjected to change and grow as you change and grow with time.

Also, it not a one-time thing that you figure out and tick the box, it is a practice of continuously questioning and finding your own answers and being intentional as you go and it really helps if you can work on it with a coach or mentor. Someone who understands and can reflect it back to you. It is easier to have someone by your side while you figure your own answers out. It is immensely powerful to embrace what truly matters to you and I really believe when we step into our own power and own who we are, it inspires others to step into their own power and who they are too. which I think is very rewarding.

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