Over the last two weeks, we’ve been talking about two things: dharma and growth. Boy oh boy have these topics spurred some wonderful conversations. I’ve been wanting to talk about success with you, and from recent talks around the yoga studio, I think now’s the time.
Once upon a time, the Yoga Dear hubby and I used to live/work in DC (well, also MD and VA if ya want to get technical) where we moved to attend graduate school. During my first nine months there, I was offered a full-time role at the university where I studied. AMAZING! With that gig, tuition was almost completely covered, I had a fantastic job, AND Eugene and I could move into a slightly larger than a shoebox apartment with...drumroll please...laundry on the very same floor AND a balcony. Y’all, we had “made it.” No more schlepping our laundry across parking lots or into scary, dark basements. No more longing for a small space to put an outdoor plant.
Success! Right?! Finishing a master’s, landing a full-time job, living in the city - the only way to go from here was up the ladder. Up to the next role in my office, up to the next bigger and better apartment. But, the problem? I remember looking around at work one day and realizing that I didn’t want any of this. I would come home after that year EXHAUSTED from the commute (just 6 miles on one metro + 1.5 miles walking = 1 hour each way). I saw my co-workers in loftier titles working all the time. Some were always away from family. Some had even longer commutes. And, while on paper everything looked awesome, to me it didn’t feel that way anymore. Was this the only way to success?
You guys, I think we all struggle with this. For a long time, we think we know what success is and what it would feel like to get everything we want - the job, the money, the house, the car. It's normal to go through this, especially in our culture. But, truly, don’t you think that’s all a story? A story that potentially comes from the outside and not from within?
Sometimes, a definition of success is the very thing that might hold us back from our dharma and our growth. Around the time when I was trying to figure out what “success” meant to me, I had begun an even deeper dive into the philosophy side of yoga. Here is where I tried (and keep trying) to get intentional. It’s taken time, and even more internal convincing, but I’m starting to realize what success is for me:
- It’s being able to have some freedom - to try new things in my work, to take a longer lunch date every now and then, to walk my dogs in the afternoon (and my baby so very soon), to travel more, to worry less about things like bills.
- It’s being able to create everyday through writing, teaching yoga, designing sessions for private clients.
- It’s giving myself permission to trust in my gut, to know that trust may lead to failures, but trust more often will lead to flying and always learning.
- It’s building and nurturing cherished relationships with co-workers, yogis, friends, and family.
- It’s a belief in my work so much that I can’t wait to share it with others.
- It’s time to get adequate rest, prepare healthy meals, & spend with my husband.
Okay, so yes I’d really love a house with a big porch on the side of a mountain. And, yes, I’d love to be able to take off to Tuscany or spend a month in Costa Rica. But, I’m confident we’ll get there. I’m confident that if we all keep following our definition of success, alongside our dharma (which often go hand in hand), life will allow these opportunities to unfold before us.
So, get pen to paper today (or use Evernote, Google Docs, whatever), and scribble down your definition of success. How does this definition make you feel? What does it allow you to do? Are you living in a way that’s successful to you? Does this definition scare you just a little?