I’ve Got 99 Definitions Of Success…And This Ain’t One Of Them

When I was in high school, I journaled about what my life would be like as an adult…because I wanted to be an adult with every fibre of my being. I wanted freedom and I wanted to BE somebody. Somebody powerful; as a teenager, I didn’t feel I had any control over my environment.

I wrote about this life of high heels and power suits, a blue convertible BMW with a gold nameplate above my parking spot, an office in a very tall building with a view, and a penthouse apartment overlooking English Bay. In this imagined life, I was a high-powered executive (there’s that word ‘power’ again) at an advertising firm. That was a testament to my then-favourite TV show, Melrose Place. (You know exactly what I’m talking about, right?)

This scenario had absolutely nothing to do with everything else I journaled or thought about: social justice, volunteering overseas, cross-cultural relations, building community centres, developing programs to boost self-esteem in adolescents. Seriously, my high school journal is a goldmine of compassionate, heart-centred ideas. Except for those few pages when what I focused on was being on top of the world, literally (in my penthouse and my top-floor office).

What I loved about that life was the fact that I would ride up the elevator, alone, to my own apartment, come in and kick my shoes off, toss my keys onto a table by the door, walk over my plush white carpet to turn on my stereo, flop onto a bean bag chair and just be. My answering machine would have a few messages from close friends wanting to make plans for the weekend – a weekend I could fill as I please. I could decide what I would eat for dinner, and how I would spend my evening. I imagined reading books in the quiet, taking long bubble baths, and sauntering out to restaurants at my will. That is like the ultimate introvert dream.

And it’s really the opposite of my life now. I live in Suburbia – with a capital S – and I live in a home with 4 other people, 3 of whom need me for an insane number of things. We did lease a BMW for a few years – but I rarely drove it because it didn’t fit enough children. That car was known as Papa’s car.  I have a minivan, and I thank God for it every day! (Space = sanity)

I rarely wear my high heels, I don’t own a suit that says “Heather Locklear,” or make presentations that will wow an entire boardroom full of people and there isn’t a team of people waiting with baited breath for me to make some monumental decision for a large company.

While words like power and ambition and success are extremely celebrated in my world, they resemble practically nothing of my old definitions.

Power. I love power. Personal power. Every day, I strive to stand in my personal power to affect positive change in the world. Maybe through a blog post that will get you thinking about something in a different light. Perhaps through a magazine article or a letter to the editor to show a new perspective. I also value your personal power; if we all felt more comfortable in our skin and happy in our authenticity we would have a much more peaceful world – so I created workbooks to help with that. I’m now working on the next phase of my business which is building workshops for you – for your health, joy and legacy. Because that is some powerful stuff.

Ambition. Oh, this word. This word means something different to me since becoming a mom of 3. Ambition has nothing to do with my Masters degree. Ambition now means standing in my personal power, helping you find health and joy, and running a household while not losing sight of: my spirituality, the things that bring me joy and what it is I wish to leave behind. That is one ambitious to-do list.

Success. On a successful day, I make decisions based on what I envision for myself and my family. On a successful day, I get feedback from readers that say I changed their world somehow, opened their minds a little, or helped them remember who they are inside. On a successful day, my kids will say something that makes me proud, makes me feel like if today were my last day, then I could go knowing I did something right in this world. On a successful day, I can look myself in the mirror and say, “I love you. You are enough.” And I can feel good about my typical outfit of leggings and a T-shirt with an empowering phrase. I can love the fact that I could, in theory, dye the tips of my hair pink and still be taken seriously when I go out in the world to do what I love. In fact, I’d probably get some high-fives for my creative expression 😉

Taslim Jaffer, endless possibilities, old navy, empowering phrase, 99 definitions of success

It’s so strange – those few pages in my high school journal – they are so not a part of the life I have worked hard to create. Underlyingly, all I wanted was the freedom to be me: powerful, ambitious and successful. I just had to live a little to know what that would look like. I had to grow into myself and, at one point, I had to remember all those things that truly matter to me most: art, social change, and my spiritual journey.

I have nothing against power suits and corporate jobs; they’re just not for me. And that doesn’t make me any less than someone who is built that way. That is a liberating realization, and I’m sharing it because maybe it can be for you, too.

I am enough. And so are you.

 

6 thoughts on “I’ve Got 99 Definitions Of Success…And This Ain’t One Of Them

    1. Thank you, Jo! Then I’ll call this a successful day 😉 So nice to hear from you. Hope all is well in your corner of the world!

  1. Love this. I think it would be a valuable exercise for me to define what success means to me. With all the career transitions I’ve experienced, it’s easy to call that into question.

    1. It’s definitely a great exercise, Zahida. And I think it’s one I will need to come back to from time to time to make sure I’m on track – on MY OWN track! 🙂 Good luck with your next adventure, and I love that you are able to spend time on your hobbies and well-being. Truly, a life without those things is no life at all!

  2. Wow, such an inspiring post! I love your writing style. I agree- everyone’s definition of success is SO different! For me lately it is keeping my routine and working hard while still seeing friends, keeping up a blog and expanding on it/making it better, I feel success to me used to be always focused on a goal or a career mainly and now it is much more on day-to-day little successes: like I got a lot done today at work, felt productive and still managed to do “outreach” for my blog, reached 15 followers and 25 views (my most yet!) went home, did laundry, read a few inspiring posts and let them know how I felt, possibly made someone’s day doing that. It’s the little things- like you said about your kids saying something that makes you proud making the day a success for you- I know I will be that same way when I am a mom!

    1. I love this, Shannon! You hit the nail on the head! We seem to share a similar definition of success – kind of an overall, well-roundedness and contentment. At the end of the day, if we can look at the little things as way of measuring success, there will never be a day that goes by that we aren’t truly satisfied 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.