Our coloumist, Sapphire Bates, founder of Coven Girl Gang, writes about how chasing success often means chasing your tail.
Success seems to be everywhere you look; you’ve only got to open Instagram, or have a quick browse on Twitter, to be bombarded with hoards of people achieving big things.
Ambition is great, obviously. I love seeing people smashing their goals… but what about those of us that aren’t that ambitious? Are we in some ways lesser than those that have reached ‘success’?
I worry that we are putting too much pressure on ourselves, and others, to smash bigger goals. Goals that are getting harder to reach each and every time.
As the founder of Coven Girl Gang – a platform focused on helping people achieve their goals – writing this might seem odd. Please, bear with me, whilst I try to explain.
I’m not averse to people achieving goals. In fact, I spend a lot of time harping on at people to set themselves goals.
I spend my days encouraging people to figure out what their goals are, and what sort of time span they want to achieve them in.
I think that, without goals, we can end up aimlessly drifting, with no destination in sight. However, as I head towards my mid-twenties (gulp!), I think my views on life and work are shifting.
I entered into the world of work at 16. I was a scrappy, eager and determined little thing. A weekend job at Debenhams wasn’t enough for me – even being at college full time too. I wanted to be trusted with overtime, and pushed for more and more responsibility. In my naive eyes, more work meant more money. And more money, meant more success.
By 18, I’d switched to a seemingly better job in retail, and was quickly pushing for a promotion and longer hours; both of which they granted me three months in. A year later? I was bored of my job, again. (And I’d been kicked out of college.)
Working at a floristry, making tea and sweeping the floors to get by, my eagerness for success crept back. I chased more pay rises. I joined the gym. I ran a marathon (never again, 26 miles is A REALLY LONG WAY!).
I wasn’t satisfied. Can you see the cycle?
Today, I’m 24, with two businesses and very little time off. Now – before you think this article is just me being a narcissistic arsehole – I want to say that the nearing of my 25th birthday, and mounting stress from a far too busy work schedule, has led me to a rain check.
This pattern may seem obvious to you, but I’ve only just come to realise the cycle. Every year, I was trying to ‘one up’ myself. I continuously mounted pressure to achieve something more impressive than the year before. But, I’ve finally come to realise, that it’s had a detrimental affect on my happiness and well-being.
I haven’t been taking time to focus on my achievements, or stopping to re-check if I still wanted what I thought I did. I was solely focused on achieving success, which led me to miss out. I didn’t have any reckless teenage years, or do anything crazy and spontaneous, because it didn’t fit into my self-implemented timescale for success.
I was achieving, for the sake of achieving. My slightly egotistical fear of appearing ‘unsuccessful’ held me back.
So, I stopped. I took a deep breath, and told the world that I wouldn’t be taking on any more. I made the decision to create goals that led me towards happiness, not success. But really, happiness should be the definition of success – right?
And so, through all of this doing and this thinking, I’ve ended up here, writing this article.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the pressure social media is putting on younger generations to be successful.
Should we really be pushing ourselves into a stressful strive for success, or should we be encouraging each other to discover what makes us happy? Should our goals be leading us towards the perfect lifestyle situation, instead of having such a focus on success? I know which one sounds better to me, what about you?
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Said by the queen that is Michelle Obama. Today can be rough for some of us and that’s OK to let yourself be with those feelings but remember that no matter what everyone else is posting of their best bits, their highlights of 2018 etc… it doesn’t affect what you’ve achieved this year. You’re no less successful because your highlight reel doesn’t look as impressive as someone else’s. Success is personal to you and you alone. Success is about achieving the things you wanted to achieve, if that’s getting out of bed 9/10 then that’s OK. Success isn’t always about glamorous holidays or six figures in the bank. It’s whatever you want it to be.