How do you define success for yourself? It seems everywhere you go someone is telling you what success is. Anywhere you look you can find someone talking about being successful,` yt telling you what you need to do to be successful, and the traits of successful people. For a long time I bought into the mainstream idea of what success was. I strove to achieve something that was not necessarily going to make me happy and I allowed others to define success for me. I never realized I could define success for myself!
I defined success by what other’s around me told me success was.
I often told myself that “when my children got older I would go back to school and be something”. I defined success by what others around me told me success was, a piece of paper called a degree. This paper would somehow land me an awesome job and allow me to make six figures. This in turn would ensure me that I would live a great and successful life. I just needed that piece of paper. What was I thinking, when I believed a piece of paper could make me happy and successful?
My Lightbulb moment
During a Familia class at our church I listened while a speaker talked about how during this season of life being a wife and mother was our most important job, our vocation. In case you don’t know, dictionary.com tells us that a vocation is “a function or station in life to which one is called by God”.
I was so busy thinking about being “something” and holding onto the idea that one day I would be something, that I neglected to see I was already something! Living my vocation of marriage and motherhood brought me great joy. I put a lot of time and energy into raising my family and I developed many skills along the way. However I never realized that I was something very important to my family and to God? I needed to define success for myself and my own life. I could never add up to someone else’s definition of success because success is so personal, something we have to define for ourselves.
Though I fell short at times in parenting and being a partner to my husband, I was still a success, however I failed to see myself as “something”, as a success. I knew that God was the only perfect being and we were created beautifully broken. We would never be perfect, we were not created to be perfect!
I was something and I didn’t need a degree or fabulous job outside of the home to make me successful. What an awakening that was for me to realize that I could be successful without a degree or career path! I had always felt that a large part of my worth and measure of my success was whether or not I attained a college degree, made a lot of money, drove a fancy car, or lived in a beautiful updated home.
Others may think you are crazy but you must be true to yourself.
Recently I told my confirmation class that my goal was not to raise the smartest children in the world, that get into the best colleges in the country, or land the most prestigious jobs after college making six figures and driving new cars. If that would make them happy then good for them but it was not a measure of my success. None of those achievements alone will mean I was successful as a parent! The girls looked pretty surprised after hearing this!
They were living running this race, stressed out to the max trying to do it all so they can be successful according to the mainstreams definition. I wanted to share with them that we are each individual with our own unique gifts and talents and they have to define success for themselves.
My goal as a mother is to raise children who like themselves, have confidence, are willing to take calculated risks if they feel called to do so. I want to raise children that have a servants heart, are able to look around the world and see the beauty and presence of God in the everyday mundane things. I want to raise independent children who know how to stop and be present with God and discern his plans for them, children who live their lives appreciating what they have and enjoying their blessings, realizing that in giving of themselves they will receive even greater blessings. I want my children to enjoy life and have fun while bring glory to God in all that they do. If I can achieve this then I will consider myself a huge success. This is a large part of how I define success for myself.
As for my personal goals, I strive each day to say yes to God when I feel called by Him and He places something on my heart. I want to get up each day and give thanks for all of the many blessings I have and find the joy in each day despite the trials I have faced or will face in the future.
I want to share my journey with others so that they may learn something from me or take a moment to think about something they have read. I don’t have to convince anyone of anything but If I can make someone contemplate something and challenge them to grow in some way, then I will be successful. I want the freedom to live my life the way I am called to live, not by how society tells me I need to live. This is how I define success for myself and my life.
You have to define success for yourself because not one of us is just like the other. We are unique and our gifts are diverse and many! No matter how hard I try I cannot be exactly like you or anyone else. How awesome is that!
It breaks my heart to see my confirmation class full of stressed out tired young ladies that are on a path someone else has designed for them. They are working their butts off trying to achieve the best grades, do enough volunteer hours (in order to appeal to colleges and their quest for well rounded students),participate in extracurricular activities and sports teams, be good children to their families and balance everything else they have going on.
Frequently they don’t get enough sleep, eat balanced meals, or have time to come to class and truly let everything else go so they can be present in the moment. They are worried about how they did on a test, or how they will do on an upcoming test, their next game, or concert, their relationships and the frequent drama that can go along with them. Each one of the girls in my class are amazing and beautiful. They are all unique with different gifts and talents.
Some of them may go on to be amazing college students and achieve their degrees and work in amazing jobs and there is nothing wrong with that at all! However I feel like we place too much emphasis on high school and getting into colleges so that we can be successful. What about teaching our children to build a relationship with God? Why aren’t we teaching them to put God first before everything else? Will anything else make us successful if we don’t have God at the center of it?
For myself I can honestly answer without any question, no. We have to learn to step out in faith and live our lives by listening to God and His calling in our lives. We must make time to sit and be present with God. If we don’t then, I feel that we will never be as successful as God wants us to be. I challenge you to sit and be present with God and journal or talk with a friend about your gifts. Are you using your gifts and talents to please God and define success for yourself?