What does success look like to you?
Over the holidays, 2 of my friends got together and did an IG live about what success looks like for them (@dorcas_solomon & @dorcasola). Naturally, it got me thinking about what success means and has meant for me in the past. I have spoken on the blog many times about glorifying busy, but we will get to that.
The beautiful ladies started the conversation by talking about their old definitions of success, and their new definitions of it since “freeing” themselves. If you know either of these women you know that they are BOTH incredibly talented, “successful” women in business, personal life, relationships, skincare, drip lol you get the drift, etc….. On paper and in person they are “successful” millennials who have great jobs, great side hustles, and glorify God ultimately through it all BUT this conversation just peeled back the layers of this success. If you haven’t listened, I recommend you check it out on either of their Instagram pages…. but I digress! They talked about the difference between what was expected of them in their respective Nigerian homes and what they ultimately decided for themselves. They both talked about transitioning from a rigid definition that was rooted in striving to find actualization to one that was grounded in freedom, flexibility, and joy. The whole conversation was uplifting and insightful.
When I started to think about what success has meant for me, I found that it was somewhat rooted in perfectionism. Growing up, the scariest thing I could be was being labeled as “mediocre” …..it was almost a swear word in our household 😂 😂 😂. It was imbibed in me that striving for greatness and excellence was the goal, to be the point where failure is even better than being mediocre because failure means that you actually tried. So, for the longest time, success has always looked like KILLING yourself to produce results because RESULTS/OUTCOMES is the only thing that is worth celebrating. The sentiment that says, “If you can’t tangibly show results/impact then your efforts were in vain” always lived with me. My mom always said, “what isn’t measured can’t be assessed or evaluated” and I believe that (to an extent). However, it took me a while to realize that maybe that’s just not my definition of success. That is a very scary thought for an entrepreneur and a member of this metrics-driven society, where numbers literarily determine if you can get funding or if you eat, or what your value is. On the flip side, can you imagine having a “great” year on paper but waking up and realizing that you don’t remember the last time you had a moment of genuine joy (not on the gram BUT like in person)? Can you imagine waking up and realizing that you don’t have any hobbies? …** A hobby is considered to be a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one's leisure time, not professionally and not for pay**……Dorcas Solomon talked about discovering hobbies and trying out contemporary dance; NOT to become the best or to start a business or to show off or even for health reason but SIMPLY for enjoyment. Can you honestly say to yourself that you are well-rounded?? I’m sure you can say you are a 9-5iver or the CEO of a side hustle or completing your masters, Ph.D., undergrad, etc. which are ALL great accomplishments but are they the things you want? Or are those the things society or your parents say you should want? I would encourage you to ask yourself those questions and then answer them HONESTLY.
Of course, you know I asked myself those questions; or else I wouldn’t be encouraging you to do the same. The answer to all those questions led me to a couple of truths in terms of what I consider success…..you ready for my list?!
What does success look like to Ibiyemi…..
Being able to take care of myself – I defined this initially as being financially independent and also physically taking care of myself **cue all the self-care gurus on Instagram** . BUT what I’ve come to realize is that being connected to the ultimate provider (Jesus) is all I actually need. The thought that I am in control of my own resources and I alone determine whether or not I have money is actually laughable…..if I have learned anything in the last couple of years, is that God provides and it’s my job to steward Oton…..(**Oton means “finished” in Yoruba).
Being passionate about what I’m doing – this is NOT defined as being passionate about the results of my hard work, it's genuinely being passionate about the daily, weekly, monthly activities of my hands and mind. For instance, take this blog; this blog has been a BLESSING but there is noooooo pressure….Like NONE. If I want to post, I do, if I don’t want to post I don’t, if people read it, that’s amazing, if they don’t read it that’s also ok…..I just genuinely love writing and sharing my thoughts and there is no “GOAL”. There is no desired level of achievement here…..the world would say, you should post on certain days or certain times consistently so you can build a following, or you should connect it to this or that and I’m just like WHY??...... I don’t want to turn a TRUE joy into a chore…. that is literarily the opposite of the point of the blog.
Finding REST – you might be thinking “really Ibiyemi? Rest is a definition of success?” and I would say yes, ABSOLUTELY. Rest is so underrated and so misunderstood; so many people think rest is “escapism” like let me just binge watch 8 hours of TV so that I can rest or dive into a great book and discover a new world……and to an extent, those things can be restful, however, the way I define rest is actually PEACE. There are only a few moments of true peace in my life between dealing with the pressures of life, work, school, side hustle, anxiety, and relationships, so when I find it, that to me is SUCCESS.
Understanding that results are a by-product of working hard and working smart. – This thought is very freeing to me because it means I don’t have to strive for results. I don’t believe that I am above the traditional definitions of success that exist, I just believe that it doesn’t have to be my focus. When I think of the word by-product ** by-product is a secondary product derived from a production process** I realize that I don’t have to focus on achieving that desired “GOAL” 24/7. I just have to set up a production process that would lead to those results which is why the “start” of a thing is always so harder for me than the middle or the end.
My last definition of success is that structure and consistency are needed for success BUT flexibility is required for sustainability. I first learned that concept in a sermon by Vous church, you should check it out. This message freed me up! Literarily every fitness coach, business coach, career coach, etc. will tell you about the power of consistency, and all through last year the word “consistent” was a trigger word for me. In my head, to be consistent means that I can’t trip up, I can’t falter, and I have to go on and on and on forever and never give up. So, I would get excited about a new diet or workout program or a new bible plan or even a new friendship and then all of a sudden get scared because in my head I’m like how can I ever be consistent in all those things. When I would ultimately “fail”, it was like a confirmation bias, “you see, you can never be consistent with anything” when in reality NO ONE can be consistent in anything forever…… like think about it, no one on this planet does the exact same routine, the exact same way every day of their lives, they would go mad PLUS things change CONSTANTLY so, in my opinion, it’s not even wise. What I’ve learned is that you have to leave space for seasons of adaptability, of growth, of fatigue, and so on. Now I know that just because I want to do something CONSISTENTLY doesn’t mean that I have to be a slave to this thing! It simply means that I would like to do this thing BUT if something gets in the way (depending on what is it though), I’m not going to crash and abandon the whole idea of even trying.
So there you have it…..some of my definitions of success. I encourage you to think about your definitions of success and challenge them if they are NOT truly your own thoughts but the thoughts of the society you live in. Going home to Lagos for 2months allowed me to challenge a lot of “absolutes” I once had…maybe I’ll share about them in subsequent blogs but for now, I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing.
Have a blessed day!