dream big sticker via simply factory
Do you ever have one of those weeks where everything seems to be trying to tell you a message or reaffirm something that is going on in your life? It might just be that my brain was filtering for them so I noticed them more easily, but last week it seemed like every article I read was applicable to me and what I had going on. I said last week had been a bit challenging for me, and that was due to some changes in my working situation. Although I have been pretty much self employed for a while, I’ve still been working in my old charity job for a few hours a week. I’ve worked there for the last 8 years and last week I put my notice in. Some other things also happened, and I think due to pregnancy hormones I started feeling pretty overwhelmed with what was going on.
Basically, the fact that I am in this alone hit me like a tonne of bricks. I love to work at home and I can be really productive and motivated, but I have to admit I miss having people I can bounce ideas off. A lot of the time I process my thoughts by talking to someone that understands, and I realised that I wouldn’t have that, and haven’t really had that, for a long time.
That kicked off a lot of new thoughts and I started to feel this huge pressure to be ‘successful’. This video from Marie Forleo, point 5 and the very last words of this post from RocknRoll Bride and this lovely post from my friend Christina really hit home for me. In this online world, whether it’s connected to your career, business or your healthy living goals, it’s easy to compare yourself to others, and allow your version of success to start and match theirs.
I can remember when I first started my healthy living journey, all I wanted to do was get down to a size 14. I would have been absolutely over the moon to hit that goal, and for me, that was my version of success. Then I got caught up in reading blogs, comparing myself to others and a size 14 was no longer good enough. To be successful I needed to be smaller. I completely forgot where I wanted to be in the first place and my version of success got lost along the way. A similar thing happened with running. Managing a 10 minute mile stopped being good enough and I pushed myself to get to 8 minute miles, probably pushing myself too much in the process.
In some ways, thats not always a bad thing. There’s a fine line between being inspired by someone or comparing yourself and your achievements to them in a negative way. Sometimes positive comparison can help us reach our potential. ‘If she can do it, then I can too’ is where we want to be. I do think that our dreams should feel a bit scary if they are going to push us further. The issue arises when we don’t check in with ourselves and ask if it’s really what we want deep down. We need to ask ourselves if our dreams are really ours, or are just what we think they should be based on something else.
Being involved in blogging and the online world that can be a tough balance and what I’ve needed to do is re connect with what my version of success means to me. I don’t want to be running a huge business with a massive turnover employing loads of staff and I don’t want to be glued to social media either. I don’t mind putting in some graft (god knows I have over the last couple of years!), but when it’s on something I love to do. I don’t live close to London, so miss out on a lot of opportunities, but are they really things I would want anyway? I’ve found myself starting to turn down a lot of so called ‘opportunities’ because I’ve been honest enough with myself to assess the value in them against my own personal aims.
I have big dreams, but I definitely needed to reevaluate them this week and check in to make sure they are things I actually want. There’s lots of stuff I’d love to achieve business and blog wise, but ultimately all I’ve ever wanted is to be happy. Success and happiness for me is having a family, a solid relationship, a roof over my head (a house rather than a one bed flat would be nice!), a comfortable income, the ability to travel and yes, a way to make a living that I absolutely love which also helps other people in the process. I don’t need to work 60 hours a week, be travelling back and forth to London or make millions of pounds to be successful either and I certainly don’t need to be a size 10!
I’ve also remembered one of my favourite sayings: progress not perfection. When I think about where I started, I’m doing really bloody well in all areas of life.
Going back to the working on my own side of things, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for addressing that one, some of which will need to wait until after the bambino makes an appearance. I was also reminded this week that I do have some very valuable friendships and people that I can turn to when I need that interaction, as well as a supportive online network of people I am only just starting to tap into. After that blip last week I’m now feeling extremely excited for what I have coming up business wise, and more prepared than ever to continue achieving my version of success!
Have you ever chased a dream or version of success and achieved it only to find it didn’t really make you happy or wasn’t right for you? Have you ever felt like you should strive for more when you are happy with what you’ve got? What is your version of success?
This is a really lovely post Laura and it’s so true. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and lose sight of what it is that YOU actually want or need. For example, I have a friend I went to Uni with who now works for a very famous record label in London as a press/PR officer. She spends a lot of time travelling the world with very famous artists, going first class to places like Miami, LA, Thailand etc for video shoots and tours, goes to a lot of the music awards and drinks champagne all night. (All heavily documented on Facebook and Instagram of course!) Sometimes it’s made me feel like I haven’t achieved much and that my life is pretty boring. But then I have to remind myself that her job involves lots of meeting new people all the time, lots of sucking up to them, networking, people pleasing. I’m not interested in celebrity stuff. I love travelling but I’d hate to always be away from home with work, I’d miss my chap back home and I want to do my travelling with him! Plus she’s just bought a flat in London for what I could buy a large house for here up North. It all sounds glamorous but in reality I wouldn’t enjoy it at all. I like living up North. I am in a settled relationship with someone who is my best friend and all I want to do on an evening is chill out with him and relax. We own our own home, we both have relatively stress free jobs, have enough money for meals out, holidays etc. I am actually very content, but sometimes need to remind myself of that!
It always comes across on here how much you really love your community work and working one to one with health coaching clients. If that is where your heart lies rather than building some huge brand and having to trail back and forth to London for business, then go for it. (If that’s where you feel the pull.) :-)
Thanks Zoe, so glad that you liked the post. I think most of us must have ‘that’ person in our lives some where, but as you say, it’s often a case of reminding ourselves how content we actually are with what we have, and appreciating the down sides – the grass isn’t always greener eh!
I think it’s natural to have some level of self-doubt when you’re pursuing anything outside of ‘the norm.’ My version of success is very small and narrow-minded I suppose: I just want to be able to run to the best of my ability, teach GroupEx classes, be able to take care of myself independently and hopefully adopt several cats later in life! Perhaps that seems mediocre to other people, but it would be all that I’d need to make me happy. I suppose I could tag my eating habits being under control onto that, but I think if I was happy in the other areas of my life that would happen naturally anyway. The most positive outcome of the help I’ve been receiving for my autism so far is to make me realise that I have limitations that other people don’t, but that doesn’t mean my life has to be limited. I’m through with beating myself up over wanting to make small goals and live a somewhat unconventional life. The only thing I still have issues with when it comes to failure and success is my running (or lack of it, for the foreseeable future), and I understand exactly what you mean about reading blogs contributing to feelings of inadequacy. I really wish I could go back to my first race, when I was absolutely ecstatic because I didn’t finish dead last. The more I’ve tried to measure up to other people, the more grief, heartache and injury it’s brought me…ironically I’ve also ended up getting slower in the process.
I know I’m not exactly a genius, but if you ever did need a sounding board for ideas when there’s no-one else about I’m always here to listen if you want. I’m sorry I’ve been pretty absent and somewhat snarky for a while. I definitely need to work on my reaction to other people’s success and not let it have so much bearing on my own…I also need to get my priorities straight when it comes to reading blogs that only make me feel awful about myself.
Thanks for this Jess, I think your version of success is absolutely lovely and totally achievable. It’s great that you’ve been getting some support, and are getting over beating yourself up about what it is that you want. A ‘normal’ life is my idea of hell, although what we all consider normal is different I guess but I really do love the idea of the things you want that would make you content. I do think that you are correct in needing to find a way of dealing with the blogging issue, actually the more comments I’ve read here, I think there could be a serious issue brewing amongst a lot of people simply due to how much social media we are exposed to and how that can be so easily manipulated to show a very skewed view of a persons life (whether on purpose or unintentionally) – you think about some young people being brought up into this with no appreciation that what is shared in the public domain is rarely the reality.
Thanks for that offer, I may well take you up on it I think the whole blog world is a total mystery to people that don’t read them or blog so it can be hard to talk about it to people that don’t get it! Just keep on reminding yourself that your version of success is achievable – have you been looking at training for teaching classes recently, I keep saying you’d be bloody brilliant at that!
Thank you so much for such a kind response. I definitely think that there’s going to be a serious issue for many people in the future regarding social media…if anything, I think it might be Instagram that causes the worst problems because everything is reduced to an image, whereas with blogs there has to be some insight into the author’s mindset, even if they don’t quite intend to reveal it. Personally I’m getting better at reading between the lines when it comes to how certain blog posts are structured and composed, even if there isn’t anything ‘telling’ in the words themselves. With Instagram though all you see is a caption alongside these incredible physiques and you just don’t know what people are doing (or taking…) to achieve them. If you don’t cultivate a cynical eye, then it seems as though almost everyone out there has veins popping out of their eight-packs without having to sacrifice much to achieve that.
I actually have all of the academic materials required for teaching GroupEx and I’m trying to work my way through them. I was booked on the relevant course in September, but since I’m undergoing a course of cortisone injections and dry needling to hopefully get me back to running at some point, I’m not entirely sure whether I’ll be cleared to do it, so I might have to delay until the next course starts up. It’s a huge worry because there hasn’t been a course in Newcastle for a long time, and I hope they don’t decide not to bring it back after September. I just don’t know when/if this treatment is going to be successful, and as things stood prior to the treatment my hamstrings were in such a mess that they wouldn’t stand up to the physical demands of the course anyway. I’m just really hoping that the first round of injections is successful! At least now I have some support to help me deal with the social side of teaching classes, which was what intimidated me the most. If I can’t start in September, then at the very least I can keep working on the social element of it so I’m more prepared and able to deal with things later in the year.
Such a great post! Everyone struggles with this, at one time or another, and social media makes it harder. I see all these people on Facebook with their families, beautiful houses and great parties, and look around my little rented flat and think I must be getting it all wrong, but then I remind myself that Facebook doesn’t show me the bad times these people have had and how hard they’ve worked to have what they have. I also remind myself that I quite like coming home to peace and quiet, and being able to watch what I want to watch on TV! You should never forget how much you help and inspire people, that alone is a wonderful impact you make on the world. So much of why you are a great health coach and blogger is how personal you keep it, you’re not running a conglomerate so you can take time with your clients and really help them. I hope you continue to succeed on your terms, you certainly deserve it!
Thanks Sarah :-) That’s just how I feel a lot of the time, I think about the kind of job I’d have to have to afford a huge house and it’s just not worth it. It’s sometimes those quiet moments when you come home and get settled in front of the TV you can really appreciate it :-)
Lovely post Laura. I think nearly everyone can relate to the “comparison trap” thing.
With all the details of everyone’s lives on show so much more these days- what people eat, wear, what size they are, how much they weigh, what they’re doing from second to second (!)- it’s virtually impossible not to compare. It’s important to step back as you’ve done and assess what you really want, instead of chasing unattainable goals or, as you say, a “version of success” that isn’t your own.
Thanks for sharing your wise words! x
Thanks Emma, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! You are so right about the online world, it can be pretty overwhelming if you don’t take a step back sometimes.
Wow – this post is so authentic and brilliant. In this online world it is really hard not to get caught up comparing ourselves to others “lives” and what they are achieving. What you have done is absolutely right – evaluate what success means to us personally. I am so with you – I want to have a stable income doing something I love that helps and teaches others, have a loving family and support network of wonderful friends and a nice home for them to all be in. If I ever hit all that then I am happy :)
Everyone is different, everyone is here for a different reason and it is so important to check in with ourselves to make sure we are not striving to be someone else’s version of happiness or success.
Amazing post Laura and a great reminder to all of your readers <3
Thanks Lauren, that means a lot! You’ve hit the nail on the head there with the fact that we are all different, that has to be such an important thing to remember :-)
Have you ever thought about setting up an online group for self-employed/freelance people? I think you would be great at that. Just something else to add to your list of things to do! Haha
^^I agree! I know I find your tips and insights into the self-employed life super useful. Love this post – I think it must be part o human nature to constantly be striving for more – we just need a reminder every now and then to stop and appreciate how far we’ve come.
Well as it happens that’s one of the online networks I’m hoping to tap into more, there’s a great girl called Emma who writes a blog called The Freelance Lifestyle and she has a Facebook group – let me know if either of you are up for joining it!
It’s definitely a fine line between pushing yourself to be the best you can be, reaching your full potential, and punishing yourself for not being good enough. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am at the moment, and I know that a lot of people are super career driven but right now I’m so happy to be doing something I enjoy, I get the opportunity to do a lot of things that I never thought I would get to try, and a lot of things are difficult, and I’m juggling freelance work and blogging – but I’m so happy to be doing something that I love. I’m not interested in leaving to get a step up on the career ladder, I’m not even particularly looking for more money, although I wouldn’t say no ;)
I tend to look at so many completely different lives and think – that’s what I want! No wait, that’s what I want! x 100. So basically I want a combination of a thousand people’s lives…?!
Thanks for the shout-out lovely <3 If you ever want to bounce ideas around, just call/Skype me and I'd love to help!
We all must have these reflective periods in life I think, as you say as much as money can be nice, it’s not the be all and end all and can often come at the expense of other things I find. Thanks for offering to be a bit of a sounding board, I might have to take you up on that or use it as an excuse for more Brighton visits ;-)
Great post :) Personally for me it’s tough because it’s easy to be pleased with what you’ve achieved when you don’t look at other people and what they’ve achieved. And when you have a million like-minded people all writing very similar blogs about food, running, healthy living, lifestyle etc…well the scope for comparison is HUGE.
When I was running on my own, before I began blogging, before I joined a running club, I lived in a beautiful naive world where I was amazing. None of my friends ran and people generally thought I was mad and running 2 miles was like saving the world. But then you put yourself among those like you and suddenly you’re a small fish in a massive pond. That’s not a bad thing at all – it’s brilliant. I love reading about other people running or whatever and their tips and tricks and I love the support of my club. It’s entirely my issue that I become too competitive and put too much pressure on myself to be just as good or better than them. I am slowly learning though that this is my life and my race and in every area there will always be people better than me. It’s just about understanding how to learn from them not to envy or resent them and let yourself get caught up in self-doubt.
You know it’s often that which puts it into perspective – my friends and family all see me as super fit and healthy, yet in the blogging world I’m nothing compared to what some people are like! As you say though it can be a positive thing when it drives you to do better, but it’s walking that line of envy and resentment, as well as knowing it’s never always the full story that they share sometimes too.
You are so right, there is a fine line between being inspired by people, and worrying about not living up to what they do. I agree with the online world being harder for it too- at work people see me as a super fit person, whereas compared to a lot of bloggers I don’t workout very much and certainly don’t run very fast. But at the end of the day I am happy with what I do, and I have progressed from where I started. But mainly I enjoy it!
That’s great Maria, I know what you mean about that difference amongst family and friends compared to blogging! Glad you enjoy it :-)
I feel like I’m going through something similar right now. Both blogging and health coaching have really been taking off for me, and I find myself being bombarded with opportunities and feeling all sorts of overwhelmed. I’m dealing with the same thing regarding missing out on certain opportunities because of where I live, but I don’t think I’d be willing to relocate just to be a little more successful… at least not right now. I love being self-employed, but I also have a tendency to get overwhelmed really easily so finding a healthy balance has been proving difficult… especially since I like to give 110% and have a hard time justifying -not- working on something at all times. Woof.
Yep I can totally feel you on that one! It can be very hard to turn down opportunities that aren’t right for you, especially when you see other bloggers then taking them up! I’ve had to really remind myself why I didn’t do them in the first place. I’m the same with giving it my all, I struggle with all or nothing in most areas of life and while I’ve nailed it with food I think it can take more work with projects and what not! I’m sure you’ll find a good balance for you xx
Nail on the head. Comparison is a killer. Some dreams are big but other are small and all are important. I have been celebrate my own successes and not compare them to others, realise that its ok for things to take time and to remember that its supposed to be a laugh:) I think laughing lots helps. xxx
Oh you are so right there, laughing always helps, especially when you make mistakes!
Again – loving this post Laura! Your posts and words always bring a smile to my face, you are just so REAL and that is so wonderful to see in a world where everyone is trying to be somebody else. Lovelove and more love!
Thanks Lucie, that made me smile a lot! Honestly one of the biggest complements I can receive is that I’m ‘real’ so thanks xxx
A million times YES to this post Laura! Eloquently put. My version of success is similar to yours & it still includes practical factors which include having a stable income (but I also am not looking to earn in excess). For me, I reached all my success points which I though would make me happy as a child – did well in exams/university, high flying job etc. Then I realised it wasn’t the key to happiness at all which was destabilising considering most of my energy and time up to that point had been channelled into securing a top job. So I had to think and think hard about what I wanted to do. & now I’m slowly but surely finding the balance.
So, these posts are great as even though it can be uncomfortable to have to think our priorities through, it keeps us on track on our paths to happiness.
You’ve clearly put so much energy (& love) into the blogging & building your company – the amazing community on here is proof of that. I can imagine that maintaining a strong presence on social media relies on a huge amount of determination & dedication (which looks easy but is surely not!!) which definitely has it challenges, though I would hope that now you have grafted something of value, at some point I’m sure you’d be able to take the steam off (if that’s what you want) & people will stick flock (i’m sure they still will!)
Thanks Lucy! Glad that you are starting to find a balance, you are right that really taking that long hard look at yourself and your priorities can be a bit uncomfortable but I think it’s the only way! Thanks for such lovely words about the blog, it is hard work, but ‘work’ I absolutely love and it means a lot whenever someone can see that so thank you!
Oh comparison…how difficult you make things!
The blogging and online world is the worst for comparison. It’s so easy to forget that most people only post the best versions of themselves online and hide what they don’t want you to see…The run that went poorly, the day they ate two slices of cake for breakfast…
Most of the time I think I’m pretty focused on trying to live healthier, but every so often it’s nice to take a complete break and not worry about what I’m eating or how much I’m running. Obviously I still love doing those things but it takes the pressure away a little to just go with the flow and not have to worry about if I’m doing enough to match everyone else.
This is a great post and something that I can definitely relate to. What I also think it important to remember is that whilst we might be comparing ourself to others, thinking why can’t we be as “successful” as them, others are looking at us and feeling the exact same way. You have achieved amazing things – be proud of that!
great post! great blog:)