The whole idea of “success” is one I’ve thought about my whole life. Through my school years and college, I felt an intrinsic motivation to succeed and find my purpose in life, although I honestly had no idea what it might be. But the strong and nagging voice of society told me that success meant fitting in! It meant making a high salary and having nice things and being secure. And it told me that this kind of success would bring happiness.

Seeking societal “success”

So after college, I found myself with a shiny diploma and grade point average, a zillion good memories and zero idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to help people and feel fulfilled…but society pushed its message onto me: “Good salary with benefits! Apartment! Car! Nice clothes! This is success, don’t you know?!”

So I applied for all the “good” jobs, you know… those positions described with an overload of buzzwords and the promise of a journey up the coveted ladder of “success”.

And I got hooked up with a good job at a law firm even though a nagging voice in my head said “but you’re the opposite of an office person!” I worked there for a year and acquired all those things society told me would make me happy. And though I met some great people and learned some helpful stuff about the professional world, I was slowly but surely withering away behind a desk, purposeless and defeated.

How twisted! I was young, energetic and creative, ready to take on the world! But instead I lived in a fluorescent-lit cubicle every day, swigging caffeine and sugar to get me through to 5 pm. The day I got a promotion, I went home and wept on the couch to my roommate. Sobbed until I could hardly breathe. Seriously, something was wrong here. But still didn’t see a way out. If this was “success”… why did it feel so miserable?

Anyone feel me on this?!

So many people out there are suffering a similar type of existence, barely making it through the day and craving a life that makes them excited to get out of bed each day. So many people deeply desire more, crave meaningful connection and dream of making a difference. Too many smart, talented and creative people are stifling their passion and spark to conform to society’s version of “success.”

It’s so important to know that we’re not alone in this! If you’re sitting behind the desk of some miserable job, feeling completely isolated and like something’s wrong with you for feeling unhappy with your life, stop and listen! You are part of a community of meaning-seekers and your real journey to success is just about to begin.

Finding success within

So one day at work, I was daydreaming about hopping on the next airplane that flew by my office window when I was snapped back to reality: massive piles of filing toppled over me like a game of Jenga gone wrong. Something at that moment just bubbled up and burst inside me. My passion for life was withering and no matter how much society told me to have a fancy job title, I needed to leave – or I was going to die underneath piles and piles of files and paper and Post-it notes delegating mindless tasks.

That day, I Googled “how to live abroad”, learned about becoming certified to teach English, and applied for a TEFL course in Prague. The light had come blazing through from my heart to my head; I loved people, loved teaching and loved travel and adventure. A few weeks later, I told my family that I was moving to the Czech Republic. They thought I was insane. I had a stupid grin on my face. I had never felt more sure of anything in my life.


It’s so ironic that although “the path to success” was laid out for me up until I was 24 years old, my decision to jump off that path and on a plane to a foreign country where I knew nobody  was the most confident decision I’d ever made.

What if you didn’t know where you were going or what you were doing, but you felt happy doing it? Isn’t that success right there? What if you did the thing that lit you up inside, not only because it made you feel happy… but because it made you feel alive?

So what IS success then?!

  • When our inner spirit is heard instead of squashed, when our outer actions align with who we are inside, when we follow our bliss… that feels like success!
  • Taking a leap of faith into the unknown and trusting our own strength to provide for ourselves, OFF the beaten path, to the beating of our own hearts, feels like success. It’s about taking a leap, putting all your chips on something you love and not looking back.
  • When we’re happy, doing things we love, success follows. Plain and simple formula right there.

So what does success mean to me? It no longer means I’m working at a prestigious desk job that’s putting aside for my retirement.

Success for me is leading English camps and cooking dinner with my Italian host families during the summertime. Success for me is playing charades with primary school kids, holding orphans and feeding bananas to a baby elephant in Thailand. Success for me is learning to play guitar and ukulele and sharing music with friends over a campfire.


It’s touching the lives of others, meditating at a waterfall, connecting across cultural divides, laughing until it hurts. It’s travel, adventure, teaching, learning. It’s connecting with people like you who are standing at the same crossroads between society’s success and your own; it’s meaningful conversations and enlightening moments that lift us up into the people we’re meant to be.

Success feels authentic. It feels like our inner and outer worlds match up perfectly. When who we are and what we value is reflected in our actions, words and daily choices… there we find fulfillment and “success.”

So what does success mean to you? How can you find out?

  • Think about the moments in life that you completely lose track of time. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What makes you feel so joyful and natural that you’d never look at the clock anyway?
  • Do more of those things. Even if it means less “regular work,” find time to integrate these joyful things into your life. Think of it as investment in yourself -you are worth it.
  • Write these things down! Keep a journal of the activities that bring you total bliss and light you up inside.
  • Make 3 lists to answer 3 questions: What do you love? What are you great at? What are your values? Look at the items that show up multiple times on these lists…. and hello! This is where the magic happens!! Do more of these things and success will come bounding your way.
  • Post positive notes somewhere you’ll see them everyday. Write uplifting messages on your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, anywhere you need a daily boost to smile, stay present, be grateful.
  • Remind yourself to slow down and do the things you love. Watercolor, cook a family dinner, spend time with animals. Whatever it is that lights you up inside… slow down and do more of that- mindfully!

Capture that feeling of losing track of time because you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing. Feel what it feels like to align your true inner self with your outer life.

You have the best opportunity in the whole world: the chance to get to know that incredibly amazing person that’s you, on the deepest level possible! Yes! Learn about that person, find out what makes them tick and go for it! Forge that path lit up by the fire of your heart, and you will draw success to you like a magnet.

Success isn’t a material thing. It isn’t even a lifestyle. Success is a feeling, a connection to the universal power that is accessible to us all, if we only tap into it. Don’t ever hide or ignore those feelings persisting in your heart, the whispers in your soul…for those are the keys to your success. Enjoy the journey, for it will take you farther and deeper than you ever imagined!! And make sure to write and let us know about your success stories- we are all here as each other’s inspirations!! 🙂

How About You?

For most of us, what society defines as success doesn’t always match up with how we feel inside.

Let us know in the comments below:

What did success mean to you 5 years ago? And what does it mean to you now?

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