Years ago, I was inspired by the Huffington Post's, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power" to look inward, slow down a bit and gain some perspective about what success meant to me.
For a number of reasons, slowing down can be a real challenge; whether we (sub)consciously view slowing down as a failure, or we have so many different commitments that there just isn't the time. Slowing down should neither be optional nor be something we only do when we have the time; it is actually a key to success (in a career and in life) and needs to be built into our day.
Now, what does slowing down actually mean? Does watching TV actually slow down our minds (maybe, depends what you're watching), but does it allow us to reflect on our days? Probably not. In the short term, it takes the attention off of the stresses we've endured during the day, but over time these thoughts go unprocessed and can build up into confusion and anxiety. Now I'm not saying don't watch TV (Billions and This is Us are definitely on my weekly watch list), but I am saying that it may be helpful to have another relaxation outlet that complements your TV time.
How about starting a practice of asking ourselves some questions: How am I feeling today? Did I stop to feel anything today, or did I just coast through? Is my only accomplishment that I was able to make it through today without face-planting on the sidewalk, or did I feel a sense of pride at some point?
Ok. You get it. I could go on forever giving examples of questions to ask ourselves in order to "check in," and there are a variety of things that may be going through your minds right now (and this list definitely is not exhaustive):
- I automatically do this all day and I know that I am truly living in the moment; I feel free to say what is on my mind at home and in the workplace and I know that at times I am happy, anxious, sad, or stressed, and I am aware of the events that triggered these emotions.
- I never really ask myself questions. Maybe I should try and build a few check-ins into my day, because at the end of the day I'm exhausted, anxious, have trouble falling or staying asleep, face dietary/digestive issues, headaches, etc...
- And then there are those who are saying, I don't ask myself questions, but I'm fine with I am where I am in life, my career, etc... and I don't see a need to "check-in." It honestly sounds useless.
For the majority of my life, I fell into the # 2 category and spent time in category 3 as well. I was well aware that this was neither a healthy nor fulfilling way to live. Decisions were difficult to make, my "gut instinct" was so far from my reality that I couldn't listen to it, and I was lacking the confidence in myself that I knew I wanted.
So I got inwardly focused. I wanted to figure out what success meant to me and what would make me feel success and satisfaction in my bones!! I started making a conscious effort to slow down each day; writing and talking about my past became a priority for me. I started with my childhood memories, wrote year by year, pieced stories together, wrote down what I felt during certain life events, recalled happy and sad times, and overall summarized my life into one incredibly messy document.
Over time, I became damn proud of that messy document and I started to become more aware of my own intuition and began making more mindful decisions.
This process takes time, patience, and focus on your thoughts and feelings, but I promise, the investment will be rewarding. Accepting ALL of the things about yourself allows you to let go, focus on what brings out the best in you and ultimately define and achieve YOUR OWN version of success.
What is success to you? Please share what it is and how you figured it out? We all live in a busy, distracting world. Do you have any tips or tricks for staying focused on what matters most to you and keeps you happy and feeling successful? Please share!