Define Success

What is your definition of success? Can you define success in your life? What does it mean?

This thought came to me over the past few days, as I traveled back in time, through a storage unit, attempting to close the door on a time of my life that has been gone for a while. I thought at first that I could close the door by just emptying the shelves, sorting through the discarded belongings, and eliminating those things that no longer are part of me. Then, as I continued to go through the stacks, the boxes, the vast amounts of stuff that had filled up hours, days, weeks, months, even YEARS of my life, I realized that closing a door really isn’t possible. Sometimes you just have to accept what has been as a part of you, and carry it forward.

In the middle of a box labeled “Jan’s Desk” I found a book. Inside the pages were filled with my hand written journals, hours, days, of my life written out in purple ink on white paper, as if there was much importance in the moment. On one page, I wrote:

purple penIt seems ages since I’ve found time to write my thoughts in journal form, but here I am… Sitting on the porch with my journal, my favorite (purple) pen, and a cup of tea growing cold in the Spring breeze, wondering what is so important that I should write it down. I have a list of things, important enough to write. Brenna finished an essay for school, and I’ve edited it in red ink, sharing a thought now and then, but mostly adding punctuation she forgot in the moment… Tatia has taken several tests for English, and now, she’s ready for the next class. I know she’ll do well in this reading/literature course, because she likes several of the books we’ve chosen to use. Sean and Kenton are arguing over who is better at math, and I’m smiling because both missed the answer on their “test to see who is better,” but then, it wasn’t an easy question. Tomorrow, that question will be their math lesson for the day. Find the answer…

We’re taking a quick trip this weekend to the mountains. Probably three or four days, and nights, then home. I can’t wait. I need the mountains. So many words to put on paper, and I really don’t know where to start. I love this day. I need this day. I feel sunshine…

Life during that time may have been filled with some sadness. I remember from the date (which I won’t share here) that times were tough, and I wasn’t prepared for what came shortly after those days. I felt abandoned and alone in a world filled with responsibilities. I struggled through those times, but I survived.

As a friend of my keeps telling me, over and over, I’m a survivor… Then I filled pages of doodles…

And there are several pages of doodles before I write again, then in a single paragraph, I sum up the contents of my memories of a short span of space…

Pain lingers. Time grows stale and short. I know this day will pass, but before it does, I pray I learn the lesson meant for me. I will laugh again.

And then… Over a short period of time, I watched life change us all. In many ways the change ended up being for the better, but those days made a difference that took away the foundation of my existence, and removed all family security from me. I remember feeling ‘unstable’ and less sure of myself and my choices for weeks afterward. I remember rethinking my definition of success, because the moral and ethical values I’d placed on life disappeared for a while. I still had them, but when others around me abandoned those values and left doors open, burning bridges, and closing off people who mattered… I somehow lost a part of myself. I lost my ability to feel secure for a little while, and when that happens, you start grabbing for any straw you can get your hand onto.

You seek out consistencies you can hold onto.

It’s like falling over the edge and you grab onto a branch hanging out from the cliff. Your feet are six inches off the ground, but you can’t let go of that skinny little branch that you think is your life line.

You start hanging onto that tiny branch and hold on so tight, you don’t want to let go. It can be anything… A job that no longer satisfies you. A drink you think you have to have (some find liquor in this category, I found Coca-Cola). Maybe it’s an addiction? Or maybe you spiral deep into depression and hang onto the darkness. Perhaps, it’s food? That skinny little branch of security can be your room, games, an exercise program, a ritual you follow every day, or even a consistent sound you need booming through your head… But we find something that protects us from hurting, and we crave it, we call out to it, and we wrap ourselves so tightly into that “skinny little branch of security” that nothing, and nobody will ever be allowed to hurt us again. EVER. And we make sure we’ve tucked in the edges of it, so we can’t fall out.

“Success seems to be connected with action.
Successful people keep moving.
They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

– Conrad Hilton

I struggled for so long, hanging onto that skinny little branch, when what I truly wanted was the solid ground beneath my feet – and it was right there…

If I’d listened, God kept telling me to “Let go!” My friends kept telling me to “Let go!” Even my mom, before she passed away, told me to “Let go!” but I kept holding on, thinking if I could just hold on tighter, and maybe be a bit more consistent in holding on, maybe then… Maybe THEN, I could achieve my goal.

More recently, my kids have told me, “Let it go. Just let it go and move on with your life.” But I struggled to hang on, because I felt a need to hold onto the ‘secure thing’ until the light came on and I looked down, and there – just six inches beneath my feet was solid ground.

How do I define success?

define successI believe the quote above by Conrad Hilton says it best. “Success seems to be connected with action.” When you let go of whatever it is that is holding you back, you can’t hang there, or sit there on the mound of DIRT that is solid ground directly under your feet, you’ve got to either climb UP the mountain, or slide DOWN the mountain to get to the next phase of life, and keep moving.

When you stand still, you’re stuck. And you get stuck in the mire… You can’t escape the mire if you don’t move.

You’ve got to move. You’ve got to grow, improve, become better, exercise, and move… You can’t stay in that hole where you succumbed to the need for security, you’ve got to take action and get out of there.

Once you take action and move out of that hole where you’re stuck, you can find more action and move on to bigger and better things. Define success in your life and take action.

I’m taking action.

Please read my message to you, my reader:

I’m going to ask a favor. I don’t often do this, but I really NEED to know if I’m making a difference for ANYONE by keeping up this blog, and posting ideas, concepts, and how-tos. I need to know. If this is just for me, I have better ways to spend my time, and I can find those… But if I’m truly benefiting and blessing just one person with the blog, the ideas, concepts, and how tos, would you please leave a comment here, and tell me if I’ve somehow been a part of your inspiration. I’d like to know how I’m blessing your life, and if you feel inspired to share that here, too I’d like to know. ‘

Let me know in the comments, what I can do differently to be a bigger benefit in your life.

I really do appreciate my readers, and I never want to waste your time.

Thanks, Jan


Define Success — 6 Comments

  1. Wow, Jan! What a lot to process in that little journal! (((HUGS))) I’ve taken one of those journeys myself. Watching you keep on keeping on is a great inspiration to me. I may not always be able to act on every idea you suggest to me, but I do consider you one of my mentors!

  2. Hey Jan. I’m glad I decided to pick on this one to read this morning. This really spoke to me as I’ve struggle with success for long a long time … holding onto stuff, etc. You know. I’m glad for you. You ARE a blessing. You are a fabulous author too! Like Krystine said ^^^ keep on keepin on girlfriend! I love ya!

    • I think many of us struggle with ‘success’ and the definition. The world definition, I believe is quite different than our definition. Thanks! Blessings. Love you too, girlfriend.

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