She was exhausted. She was stressed and overwhelmed. She was addicted to caffeine, nicotine and adrenaline. She was successful. She had a short fuse and was unhappy often. She worked nonstop, on both coasts. She traveled first class and rubbed elbows with celebrities. She was considered successful. Her bank balance increased as the hours she slept decreased. She got sick. She was done.

She was me.

You may be familiar with my burn out story but it bears repeating. Being overworked and less than happy, while still being considered successful remains one of the primary problems my clients battle. It saddens me to see other people living with the same, ‘no cost too high’ mentality as their life passes them. I know what they are missing. And once a moment is gone; it is gone.

Maybe you consider yourself ‘successful,’ which is great. However, I want you to check in and honestly ask yourself if you are living your version of success, or that of someone else. If you want our society’s version of success just turn on the tv, the radio, or pick up a magazine. It’s not hard to identify what society and the media think constitutes success; a hot bod, a fast car, loads of cash, and designer everything. In fact , it is impossible to escape these symbols of success, since they are everywhere.

The message within the message is, if you acquire all of the above, then and only then, will you have ‘made’ it.

Most of you know that this is not actually the case. You know that the acquisition of things doesn’t equal success and that they certainly don’t guarantee your happiness. (And I am not anti-stuff at all, just saying stuff is not the whole deal). Yet so many of you are still striving to get it all done, so you can have more. When you are constantly bombarded with a societal idea of what your life should look like, it becomes imperative that you ask yourself ….

Whose version of success are you living? @Terri_Cole (Click to Tweet!)

There is nothing wrong with wanting and enjoying the abundance that monetary success provides, as long as you are enjoying yourself, your relationships and your real life. It is important to question societal norms and what you are being fed by the media, so you are clear about your own unique and individual idea of success.

Depending on the person, success can mean, a Prius or a Mercedes, freedom to travel or freedom to be self employed. To some it means a zillion dollars in the bank and others define success by owning as little as possible.

True success is as individual as we are. The important common denominator is how our version of success makes us feel. Once we know how we want to feel, we have a criteria on which to base decisions.

At the ‘top’ of my game in the entertainment world I felt conflicted. I wasn’t helping people in the way I wanted to, and although I looked successful I felt unsatisfied. I wanted happiness, balance, and to be of service. I found ways to slip these values in through the cracks while working as a talent agent, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to do more and feel better. So I left and went to grad school to become a psychotherapist.

Making a massive life change can be really scary. I am not asking you to change anything. I am simply asking you to honestly look at how you’re living and working and see if that matches up to your version of success based on how you want to feel.

Success can actually be quite simple. You can have success and get the things you want with more ease, grace, and enjoyment. But first and foremost you have to have real insight into your authentic motivation for success and realize, it does not have to be so complicated.

Life doesn’t magically transform when you reach a number in your checking account or get the corner office. It’s important to enjoy every moment of the journey getting to that destination. When you work towards success in a way that feels true to you, you can allow more and force less.

You can be SUCCESSFUL and JOYFUL (You deserve both!)

This week I invite you to gain clarity around your definition of success. Please share with me in the comment section below what your idea of success looks like and more importantly, what it feels like. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a wonderful week and as always take care of you.

Love Love Love


Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Tune Up Tips and follow her on Twitter.

*image courtesy of Simply CVR