Success. That word has so many different meanings. What does success mean to you? For Rachel Hollis, it’s working as long and as hard as she has to in order to meet deadlines, keep her staff happy and her career flourishing. I don’t think I have m own standards for success in my life. Yes, seriously.
We all have something we are pushing for… something that we are striving for on a daily basis. In Girl, wash your face Rachel’s thing is a successful business. She works morning, noon and night in order to feel successful.
Whether it’s a new business, a new career, or even writing a new blog (my newest slow starting venture) things aren’t usually a rush out of the gate. In most new ventures we tend to have a slow start. Once the momentum begins to build and the rewards start to show, we begin to thrive off of the success. The applause and attention starts to pour out. The momentum increases in pace and we soar!!! What’s next? We feel the need to prove our worth. We put in endless hours, straining and stressing ourselves.
I have been there. Years ago I had a corporate career that pushed me to my limits. I worked and I worked and I worked….50-60 hours a week. My success was a reflection of my dedication. My endless hours of blood, sweat and tears….many, many tears. Hours on the road, time away from home and the high levels of stress wore at me. But that career WAS my identity. It was my purpose. And in the end it was my demise.
The Set Back
In June of 2009, just as my career was at its highest peak, the set back came. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The entire left side of my body was useless. I couldn’t even hold something with my left hand. I had to learn how to properly walk, brush my hair and even how to smile. OT and PT became my new norm. It felt like my life was over. My successful career came to a crashing halt. THAT was my biggest worry.
SERIOUSLY….my biggest worry was that I lost my career. I was no longer important. How would I prove my worth? I should have been worried about how to take care of my children. I should have been concerned about so many things….yet I wasn’t. I had the same kind of experience as Rachel’s homeopathic doctor described….”a physical response to and emotional problem”. You see, I was also in the heat of a divorce and custody battle. Stress triggered the MS that was lying dormant in my body.
The Silver Lining
I was so focused on achieving greatness in my career, and keeping control of my personal life, that I lost sight of what truly mattered. The MS was a slap of reality across the face. It was also a blessing in disguise. It forced me to slow down….to be present with my daughters. At the time they were 9 and 3. I was missing out on so much in their lives! And during this time of divorce, they needed me around more than ever.
I was also forced to focus on taking care of myself. I had given up drinking soda in February of that year. But was now starting to evaluate things like my diet and some exercise to regain some of physical strength I had lost. My days were spent doing things with my girls, reading, enjoying my parents, PT/OT, home nurses prodding me….and lots of resting to heal my body. It took a long time, but I leaned that I was worthy just they way I was.
What Helped Me
Therapy-both physical and emotional. My physical and occupational therapists were amazing. But they were more than that. They listened to me. They helped to talk me through the battles I was fighting inside of me. When in doubt, talk. Talk to someone who will listen.
I started focusing my energy on the good things, the “fun moments”. I made sure I rested in order to have the energy to enjoy things. A beach vacation with my kids, a trip to the city to visit my sister, or even time to read a small section of a book. I realized that these are the things that truly matter….these are the forms of success I should be measuring my life by.
I re-prioritized my “to-do” list. ME time slowly moved to the top. I hired a personal trainer for ME. He changed my life. We didn’t have killer sessions like you would think. Instead he helped me rebuild some of the strength I had lost. He gave me new-found confidence. We spent 2 mornings a week for 2 years, working on ME. I owe a lot to that man.
What does success look like to you? Are you prioritizing the right things in your life? Are YOU at the top of your list?