Musings of sorts

What does success mean to you?

February 16, 2016

A couple of people have said to me recently, “wow you’re doing so well with your writing.” Then someone said,  you’re so successful. It got me pondering on what success means. I have had some stuff published. Yes. But let me tell you a secret. I could not live off this writing gig. I don’t know how people do, unless they something else in the wings like a lucrative cocaine dealership. The other thing I will say, is that you get paid on publication, not on submission. So while I am waiting for eight pieces out there in the wilderness to get published, I won’t get paid until  they do. And a lot of the time, I write for free travel or experiences. But this works for me, because I love to travel.

So yes, I feel successful, in my own way. (Even though I probably have less money than I have ever had.)

This is what success means to me.

Success means having time 

Over the last few years, time has proved the best commodity for me. The most positive thing I have done for my mental health, was to give myself more time.  Life is too short to have no time. I spent five days a week going to a job I hated. Around 15 hours a week commuting. I pushed myself to have a crazy schedule of work, endurance events, and social activities. I was tired. I had no time. Success for me, and having a successful life, means having the time to do the things I love. Having time to enjoy life. To be flexible and spontaneous. To not rush through things. To enjoy the process. Time is defiantly worth more than money in my life.

Success means having health 

This does not mean being a supermodel. I’ve redefined my notion of health in recent years. I used to be absolutely paranoid that health meant I had to be 64 kilos. I was that weight, once, but I was stressed out of my mind, anxious and drained. Life was not better when I was that thin. (In fact, I was probably the unhappiest and most unsure person ever.) Success for me now means having mental and physical strength. Being able to do all the sports I like, walk up hills, swim ocean swims, freedive, do yoga and whatever else I take on. I thank my mind for feeling at rest, and my body for being healthy and allowing me to do the things that I want to do. That is success. I can’t wait for my Ginger Hunk to join me. 

Success means a feeling of freedom 

I’ve always been a free spirit. I spent most of my twenties travelling, following my heart moving from relationship to relationship, planning the next adventure, and always having itchy feet. I didn’t stick to a path. A lot of the time I made big mistakes. It’s probably why children have never really appealed to me. Having the next 15 years set in stone scares the shit out of me. I am loved but I have a sense of freedom that I’ve never had with anyone else. It feels like we could go off on adventures, and The Ginger Hunk would support me in whatever avenue I want to do. Success for me is feeling free but committed, rather than being trapped in a path that I can’t change. 

Success means doing what lights me up – whatever that is

I head over to my soul sisters, Rebecca Campbell and Elizabeth Gilbert who say to do what lights you up. If you’re in the mood for a soul lift, check out Light is The New Back and Big Magic. For a long time I followed the ‘safe’ path. Go up the ladder. Be successful. Be a manager, (thinking  that is what would lead me to a feeling of ‘success’.) While I do get satisfaction and am passionate about promoting equal access to mental health care in my ‘proper’ job, I realised it was not be my only thing. Success is doing what lights me up – for me it’s writing. I can spend hours on this thing, going into a writing hole, and brainstorming ideas. For some, they lose hours in the joy their children bring, reading, singing, running marathons or photography. Each to their own. But success to me is about doing that thing that you would do without getting paid, just because you love it.

What does success mean to you? 

Are you still figuring it out like I am?

Ashleigh XXX


*****Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT*****


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  • Hugzilla

    Love this!! (and massive LOL @ the cocaine dealership – that’s where I’m going all wrong)

  • Yep, success means much the same to me. It’s not money or notoriety, or having the best of things. Success for me is freedom and contentment really.

  • I couldn’t agree more with your definitions of success … fame and fortune is not the be-all and end-all!

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    A few years ago, no maybe even 1 year ago I would have listed material things or type of employment. Now it is waking and ending my day with all my positive energy cause that means I’m happy

  • I’d have to agree that success for me is also doing something that ‘lights me up’. I’ve been a freelance writer and worked in digital media for almost 4 years, a completely different career to what I had before my son and it’s definitely what drives me. I remember being in all of my jobs before my son wondering ‘is this really it, is this my dream career?’ It definitely wasn’t because now I know that what I do now is the career I love. This is success to me and the fact that it fits into my lifestyle and family.

    • Exactly! I’m not there yet (still working part time) but making the transition to a creative career. So much better than working for someone else!

  • To me, success means having the freedom to do what you love, to do whatever “lights you up”. It’s taken me quite a while to work this out. It’s not about having the most material possessions or the most money. In the end, we all go out in a box and you can’t take those things with you!

    • Exactly. You’ll think about how you spent your time and how you should have done more of what you love!

  • I’m not sure what it means to be honest. I think it depends on a lot of things, and even individual situations.

  • Still figuring it out. And insanely jealous of anyone who has quit their 15 hour/week commute because I still do mine and I can’t wait to get to the day when I can leave it. I don’t mind my job but I hate the commute. Such a time suck. But I love where I live and don’t want to move to some generic suburb. Ah, the choices we get stuck living with…

    • I was really scared to do this because my husband also freelances. But part time I pay less tax, have more hours and slowly the writing income is building. Do it! Everything good in life comes with risk.

  • Such an interesting question that is so personal for everyone.