I always wanted to be the high-flyer. I saw myself as someone who would excel in the corporate world or become a leader in international business. But I eventually accepted that being a major corporate bigwig wasn’t my thing.
So I dropped the idea.
I’ve wasted too much time trying to impress others and gain the respect of people who feel that money and jobs and houses and cars are the be-all and end-all in this life.
I towed the line and I never challenged the status quo.
Then one day I realised how much time and energy I was spending on seeking the approval of others for ambitions I wasn’t even that vested in. I wasn’t focused on the things that should have been important to me and I wasn’t content with this idea of success.
So I revisited what being successful meant to me.
And I recognised that it wasn’t about money or a job title. It wasn’t about power or the pats on the back from admiring colleagues. These long-held ideas on success no longer sat well with me.
I don’t think they ever did.
Not jobs or houses. Not the area postcode or the label on a new shirt.
It was always going to be hard returning ‘home’ this summer because wealth and possessions still matter to a lot of people I know.
Popular opinion these days says you must have a top job and talk about it. Often. Your house must be sizeable and close to a good catchment area for your kid’s school. And you must drive a fancy car.
I felt inadequate at times with my lack of ‘things’ around me. And certainly not their idea of a success.
I lost track of how many times I was told “so-and-so now works as a Director for that bank in London” and “did you know how much ole whatshisname’s house is worth?”
Don’t get me wrong, I live in a place which has taken wealth and expense to a brand new height. But I asked myself whether I should compare the life I’ve created and talk about on this blog to these wealthier, more powerful lives? And should I then consider mine a failure because of income or personal wealth, the age of a car and whether I own a big house?
Or should I judge myself against other criteria?
The life experiences I’ve had, places I’ve seen, the family I’ve helped grow and the life I’m building from our dreams.
Importantly, the space I’ve created by ditching things to ensure I’m always around.
Should I take note when people ask what I do and remind me of the dizzy heights others have reached in their careers – the frequent business travel with first class airfares, the posh nights out in London and the five star holidays?
Or should I accept the way things are?
The fact that as my beautiful boy grows up, I can look him straight in the eyes and know that I chose what was best for us based on values other than the size of my job title and the price of the meal at the swanky lunch.
I know which life I choose.
I choose the life built on my terms with no regret.
What about you? What life would you choose? What’s important to you?