***This article is part of a movement – the Busting The Overnight Success Myth: Community Blog Tour, where 21 ladies who have made their dream business a reality (in a variety of different niches) share what it really took for us to make this happen. Including the not so pretty stuff.
When Allison Braun (The Business Joyologist) shared her vision for this blog tour with me, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it. I know WAY too many people (men and women) who never pursue their dreams or follow their passions because they’re caught up in the myths of success. I believe in the power of vulnerability (LOVE reading the work Brene Brown and highly recommend her book, The Gifts Of Imperfection!) and that’s why I jumped on the opportunity to share my story as part of this tour.
I’m about to share things I’ve only shared with a select few people before. This article combines tips and personal anecdotes because I want to pull back the curtains to show you what the road to success truly looks like.
Enjoy and my wish for you is that something in the following words reignites that sparkle deep inside of you!***
Sneaky Sign #1: You Know What You Don’t Want.
If you know what you DON’T want, but you’re not sure what you DO want yet, congratulations! You’re ahead of the game and well on your way to the new kind of success.
Every job you have…
Every book you read…
Every degree or certificate you complete (or don’t complete)…
Every relationship and spontaneous re-directing of your life…
Are all signs of success.
Consider this: With every step you take, regardless of whether they appear to be going sideways, backwards or in some erratic pattern that’s making you dizzy, you’re getting closer to finding your personal truth and defining success on your own terms.
Life isn’t black or white (at least that’s my belief) and neither is success. Most women are raised to buy into some version of the “White Picket Fence Fantasy.” If they go to school, get a good job, find a nice guy with a stable job, drive a nice car, buy a home on the right side of the tracks and can afford to go on nice vacations, they’ve achieved success.
I’m guessing that most of the people who achieve that fantasy are actually quite miserable because they’re living someone else’s version of success. (And if this is truly your definition of success, all the power to you!)
Achieving some store bought fantasy is actually easier than you think. In fact, I think it’s the easy way out. It takes courage to be true to yourself and connect with what you truly desire in life, regardless of how it appears from the outside looking in.
So if it feels like you’re floundering and you’re confused as hell and not sure what direction to go, congratulations! You’re on the fast path to success because you’re being true to yourself and you’re not willing to live a lie or pretend to be happy with some fabricated version of success.
Rather than focusing your energy on what you don’t want, learn from the “don’ts” and commit to focusing on what makes you feel alive, motivated and excited. There’s breadcrumbs all around us. We just need to pull our head out of our asses long enough to pick up on the scent and follow the trail!
My personal journey to figuring it out, one “Well, I don’t want that!” at a time”:
I’ve always thought it’s so odd that we’re supposed to graduate from high school and at the ripe age of 18 (and usually younger) decide what we want to “be” for the rest of our life.
At first, I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist. Then I thought I wanted to be a high-level marketing executive (CMO would have looked so nice next to my name on a big ‘ol fancy Fortune 500 company business card). And then I thought I wanted to be a pharmaceutical rep. I’m chuckling right now because all of those jobs couldn’t be farther away from what I now value and how I want to live my life.
By the time I graduated from University, I was headed down the path to marketing career success. I had managed multiple experiential event teams across Western Canada and I had worked with top name brands including good ‘ol Budweiser (and other beverages from the Labatt family), DaimlerChrysler and Rogers Wireless to name a few.
At first, the hype was exciting. Going from event to event and spending time with high-energy people was like getting hits of high quality sugar. Over and over and over again.
Until one day the sugar wasn’t enough. My hard work was recognized by awards. I was working my way up the highly esteemed “corporate ladder.” I was graduating with more experience then most people could ever imagine and yet something was missing and seriously wrong.
My personal life was in shambles. I was in an unhealthy relationship, I rarely spent quality time with my family and friends, I had an auto-immune disorder and I was having anxiety attacks left, right and center. I started seeing a therapist and it wasn’t long until I put on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication.
Next, I worked for Ford Of Canada (something I always dreamed of) and within 3 months I packed up my cubicle and kindly said good riddance.
I moved overseas to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I worked for an amazing company full of world-wide thought leaders and creative geniuses. Within 6 months, I knew this wasn’t the place for me and I resigned.(I actually ended up staying for 2.5 years. Long story, but everything worked out exactly how it was supposed to work out!)
This list goes on and you’re probably noticing a trend.
I thought I knew what I wanted, only to discover that most of the time I had no idea what I wanted. I started to embrace the “don’t knows” because I realized that with each experience, I continued to learn and grow and I always pointed in the next, right direction.
This still happens in my life and I’m grateful it does! The day I stop learning and growing and taking risks and trying unconventional things is the day I die. (And even then, I’ll be off and onto the next adventure!)
Sneaky Sign #2: Your Whole Word Crumbles Apart. (Again and again and again…)
If you’ve had your whole world turned upside down overnight or you’ve suffered setbacks and losses, congratulations! You’re on your way to success.
The Universe has a funny sense of humour. Just when you think you finally have it all together, the rug is pulled from underneath you and you’re left wondering, “what now?”
This is actually a good sign, even if you don’t see it at the time. I’ve learned to be grateful for the subtle and not-so-subtle rug-pulls in my life because they woke me up when I needed a reminder and they re-directed me in the right direction.
I believe that most of us are damn good justifiers. We justify our current circumstances so we feel good about what we’re doing and where we’re at.
Here’s an insider tip, coming straight from a way-too-skilled justifier:
People who justify where they’re at in life or what they’re doing, are choosing to keep the wool pulled over their own eyes because they’re too afraid to admit that something in their life needs to change. If you find yourself justifying the way you live, take a deeper look at what’s going on. What little voice have you been ignoring for too long? How can you start living more authentically?
Even though I’m committed to pursuing and living my personal truth, I still catch myself justifying certain decisions I make to the people in my life. By simply committing to hearing the alarm sound on your “Wooly Bullshit Meter”, you’ll start to pay attention to the places in your life where you’re incongruent with your personal truth.
It’s a daily practice that can feel uncomfortable in the moment, but it leads to deeper fulfillment and more belly laughs and smiles in the long run.
My personal “Wooly Bullshit Meter” encounters:
Juicy Geniuses was rocking and rolling and Alex and I were busy-internet-marketing-bees. To most outsiders looking in, they thought my life was fab. I was living the lifestyle design dream – working from my computer, traveling, making a comfortable living – yet something was seriously missing in my life. I was able to pull the wool over my eyes for quite awhile because there were enough perks and distractions to keep me shielded from the truth.
But the truth was slowly (and then quickly) rising to the surface…
Instead of feeling alive and energized, I could barely roll out of bed in the morning. It wasn’t rare for me to hit snooze for at least an hour or two, until I’d finally stumble to get set up at my computer and start the dreaded long day.
I love marketing (both online and offline!) and I’m grateful for using it to help me live the life I truly want to live. What I realized is that for me to spend all of my time working as a marketing consultant was taking me away from my purpose and what I love – coaching, writing and supporting women who are doing amazing things in the world.
I knew I had to make a change, but I was terrified to do it. At the time, Alex and I were consulting for some top-notch players in the online world and I was afraid to bow out. I wanted to respect my partnership with Alex and I didn’t want these people to think I was flaky or unprofessional.
I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I tried to bow out nicely and I set everything up so I would still have income coming in for at least 3 months. This was one of those moments when I needed a swift rug pull, or what felt like an explosion, to wake me up and point me in the right direction. Within a week of deciding to pursue a new consulting path, I was left with zero clients and zero new clients.
I remember crying for what seemed to be days, but underneath the tears there was a sense of relief and a glimmer of hope. I knew I had been courageous because I chose to listen to my personal truth and step into living more authentically for ME.
It was a tough time, but looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned so much about myself and I developed confidence in who I’m truly meant to be.
Sneaky Sign #3: You’ve Always Known There’s Something “More” Waiting For You.
If you’ve always had a restless feeling inside or the knowingness that there’s something more waiting for you, congratulations! Those are signs of success getting ready for you to reach out and take it.
I used to believe, “Who I am to think there’s “more” waiting out there for me? It’s cocky to think I’m special or that I have a natural skills that can benefit others.”
This statement (and many similar versions) used to constantly run through my mind. Looking back, I realize it’s because I lacked confidence in myself. I’d rather bow out then put myself in the spotlight because I thought I wasn’t good enough or I didn’t have enough to offer. I also realize that I was unwilling to take ownership of my skills because I didn’t want to be seen as self absorbed.
What I realize now is that it’s more self absorbed to play small and keep my skills and talents hidden. When I do that, I’m doing it for me and only me because I want to keep myself comfortable.
I also used to battle with the fear that nothing would ever be enough. I would try one thing after another, after another, after another, only to discover that the gnawing feeling of “there’s something more waiting for me” wouldn’t go away.
Here’s a quick “how to dissipate that gnawing feeling” tip:
That irritating feeling deep within is actually your best friend. Rather than do whatever you can to ignore it, commit to doing the opposite.
Pay attention to the feeling and ask what it’s trying to tell you. Sometimes it’s your intuition leading you in a new direction and other times it’s a reminder to get back on YOUR path of success. (AKA Being true to yourself and living congruently for YOU!)
Regardless of where you’re at right now and regardless of where you think you want to go, make a commitment to tuning into what’s true for YOU.
When you live your life based on what feels good for you and what makes you feel alive, you’ll be an overnight success story on your terms and that’s the only kind of success story worth striving for!
What’s your personal experience with these 3 sneaky signs of success? Have they kept you on the right path for YOU? Are they tugging at you right now, trying to wake you up to a new way living?
Share your story below. I look forward to reading it!
PS. If you’ve ever felt alone on your journey or like you weren’t as far as you “should” be, I invite you to check out more of these real-life stories by going here to join the Busting The Overnight Success Myth::Community Blog Tour. I know Chela Davison shared her story yesterday and Whitney Paige is sharing her journey tomorrow.