Success Doesn’t Always Look The Same, But It Always Impacts Our Self-Worth. Let’s Think About This…
Our ideas of our own success will always impact our self-worth, but maybe we need to take our plans for 2020 and beyond back to the drawing board.
When I was younger, my grandma would tell me that marrying a rich man was the key to an easy, happy life. I would say back: ‘But I’m going to be a rich man.’
I would imagine myself in a lush city flat, wearing huge sunglasses and carrying a coffee to my meetings. Now that I’ve graduated uni, a part of me feels like a failure because I’m not that girl yet.
I keep finding myself struggling under the weight of my own expectations. My brain is telling me: ‘You’re not successful! You don’t live in London! You don’t even like coffee that much!’ But then I have to remind myself that I graduated into a recession and a global pandemic. Maybe I’m doing just fine, all things considered.
I think it’s time to dig a little deeper and discover just what I think I’m failing at.
‘I’m Going To Be a Rich Man’
One of the many side effects of living in a capitalist society is the draw to money. We scroll through our phones and religiously like celebrity posts, see more things we want to own, and feel down about ourselves.
But when we start to internalise these things, we make choices in a different way. We don’t take the degree we really want, we take the one with the best opportunities for earning money. And then we’re stuck hunting for jobs we don’t want just for a few more coins at the end of the month.
But I don’t want to be stuck in a job that I don’t love. Do you? I think we need to change our thinking. Maybe it’s not money = success.
Maybe it’s more like happiness = success.
This sits a bit better with me, because the truth is that my dream job is within a traditionally underpaid industry. So when I do secure that dream role my figures are going to be pretty low. But maybe that’s okay.
The Productivity Itch
I’ve spoken about the dreaded productivity itch a few times now, but let’s return to that idea with our re-imagined formula for success.
Productivity rules my life. When I am productive, I feel like I’m in control. A bit closer to ‘success’ and feeling good. When I’m not productive, I’m overwhelmed by guilt. I feel like a failure every time I take a break.
But if my success is no longer defined by external things like money, maybe I deserve to take a break despite having nothing in my bank account. When we define our success by internal factors like health and happiness, we are already in control.
This comes back to the capitalist society idea. It’s all go-go-go, but what if we took a second to enjoy the journey instead of living our lives for the imagined destination?
It’s about the process, not the progress.
Ways To Re-imagine Your Success and Self-Worth in 2020
- Lower your expectations – we’re only human.
- Slow the pace – we have our whole lives to go, there’s no rush.
- Focus on the journey – living in the present will give you much more happiness than focusing on the past or future.
- Remind yourself – that you’re worthy. Worthy of taking a break and being happy.
- Take a moment – make sure that you give yourself time off from the job hunt and that you take a second to appreciate your life.
- Celebrate the wins – every completed application and interview invite is a huge win when you’re job hunting in a recession. You’re doing so well!
- Remember – every single win you’ve made this year has been despite coronavirus.
Maybe we’re not failures at all. Maybe we’re winners. Survivors. Successes.
It’s hard to keep your ideas of success and self-worth strong in 2020. If you’re struggling please have a look at my graduate mental health article.
My failure complex really grew when I was applying for graduate jobs in lockdown. The endless stream of rejections was tough to face, especially when I had put in so much work. Applying for jobs through DigitalGrads is a lot less soul destroying. Simply sign up, create your profile and click ‘apply’ on the jobs you want. No endless cover letters to write or forms to fill out. Easy peasy.