My Declaration: Success

So far on the blog lovin' book tour, we've covered enthusiasm, uniquity, intention, and self-care. Now we're ready to talk about success. This is a complex notion that can be loaded with cultural assumptions and baggage to spare. Be sure to read what the other creative bloggers are saying about this topic, including the women featured in this chapter: Kelly Rae Roberts and Jennifer Lee. Feel free to share your thoughts below. I'd love to hear how you tackle this topic.

Illustration by the lovely Jessica Swift.

A month ago I read an article about Huffington Post's Third Metric conference for women. The conference was all about: "How we can begin to measure success beyond money and power, according to a third metric: well-being." Boom. That. Right there. I've been in that exact headspace since we kicked off 2013 (before that, really, but I didn't name and organize this energy until the new year).  After reading the article I blogged about the third metric and declared: "I am definitely ready to redefine success in my life." Well, that manifested in The Declaration of You blog series and a chance to sort out what that actually means. Be careful what you wish for, kids.

Since arriving at the point in my life that I want to switch gears and refocus my time and energy, I'm ultra sensitive to the paradigms, cultural dialogues, and even inner dialogues that govern my thinking around success. I will never forget a text I read in grad school, Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant." He's a political scientist who breaks down our society into two paradigms: Strict Father and Nurturing Parent. At its core, Lakoff's model is precisely what Ruiz explains in "The Mastery of Love" when he writes about the Track of Fear and the Track of Love. Another way to phrase all of this is to think about approaching life from a scarcity model versus abundant thinking.

What if you're not familiar with Lakoff's work, or haven't read Ruiz, or simply wonder what hippie dippy babble I'm prattling on about? Take this as the perfect example: I recently pulled out of a national publishing deal at work. It was a big decision and a big step toward my new version of success. The strict father track of fear scarcity mindset (how's that for a mouthful) said: "You have to do this. You don't know when an opportunity like this will come again. You're in academia, you're supposed to publish. You're supposed to have your name out there. You'll lose your credibility. You need to do this for your institution." Can you hear all the hamsters on the wheels just cranking that bullshit out? Can you hear the strict father version of success? Can you hear the fear and the scarcity?

If I get right down to it, this paradigm has governed a lot of my ambition and success in life. Not consciously, necessarily, because I don't feel fear on a daily basis while striving to kick ass at work. That's not what I'm saying. But in a more subtle and subconscious way, this has been the undercurrent. It's taken me to amazing places in my career and my life, and I don't begrudge it, but I've outgrown it. It's like taking the red pill in The Matrix. You can't come back from that.

Enter the Third Metric article, posted a fortuitous three days after my conversation with the publisher. Here's a riff on a few of the remarks that really resonated:

Career moves that might look like a step backward can be a step forward. {tweet it}

Depending on who you ask, my move with the publishing deal at work was a step backward; however, it was actually a step forward into new energy. It freed up time that I'm now dedicating to projects I feel fully passionate about.

Everyone says passion matters, but it really matters. Say no to things that don't nourish that. {tweet it}

Author Susan Cain said at the conference: "I would add another element to that Third Metric, and that's passion, and learning how to say no to things that are not in the service of that passion." I have yet to dive into Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map, but I've been dancing around its edges for a while now. I've mentioned this on the blog, but it's going to be epic once I cross the starting line and I'm not sure I'm quite ready for the upheaval. You want to talk about shifting paradigms, try this: Do not create a list of tasks to accomplish. Create a list of your core desired feelings, and the tasks to get you to those feelings will define themselves. It doesn't get more nurturing, loving, and abundant than that. Some day soon-ish I'll desire map the crap out of my life. Literally. The crap will be gone from my life. Some day.

Stop trying to make it look easy. Let go of the myth of perfection. {tweet it}

Vulnerability. Ugh. I suck at this. I'm aware. Women have to let go of the myth of perfection. I'm working on it. Mika Brzezinski sets all of us perfectionists straight in this quick video.

Assess what you can let go of. Keep only what works for you. {tweet it}

Often times success isn't about what you actively strive for and achieve, but it's about arriving in an abundant space where you can let go of what no longer works for you. It's similar to the revelation I stumbled upon in terms of meditation practice: Just get out of the way. I'm working to let go of the strict father track of fear scarcity paradigm. I'm trying to live in a paradigm of abundance. Even though it's hard to unlearn a lifetime of mythology, letting go and letting new paradigms in is essential to creating a definition of success. The new definition will be far more fulfilling and it will be authored by me, for me.

“In the track of fear we have so many conditions, expectations, and obligations that we create a lot of rules just to protect ourselves against emotional pain, when the truth is that there shouldn't be any rules." Ruiz is right. Cheers to breaking the rules and redefining success.

We can do this.


The Fine Print: The Declaration of You will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, giving readers the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, to discover how they and their gifts are unique, and to uncover what they are meant to do! 

Pre-order your copy now. Learn more by clicking here.

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Painting. Instawalk. Iowa. #weekinphotos

Grandma's memorial #throwbackthursday