Friday, August 22, 2014

Success is What You Make It

When you're working towards a goal, there's this feeling you get which says accomplishing your goal will make all your stress go away. You feel that you're working and working and working, after all; achieving the end product will be the End Of Work and signal a time of celebration and dancing and sleep. Right?

But then you get to the end and for about five minutes you feel that high, the I Did It moment... Then you fall back down into the daily grind of all the other things you have to do that were forgotten while you finished up that project.

In other words, there's always more to do.

I recently achieved something big--for me--after months of work leading up to spending an entire weekend working followed by an all-nighter. I did it: I reached my goal, I set out what I wanted to do and I got there. It felt good. Really good.

The first thing I wanted to do in my excitement was start working on the next project.

I had to stop myself and think for a moment. Am I such an accomplishment-junkie that achieving something just makes me want to achieve something ELSE, so I can feel the feeling again? The result of that is that even my moments of triumph are swallowed up by the press of doing, doing, doing more. I will never really get to celebrate what I've done. The success will fall by the wayside as if it means nothing.

As I thought about starting another project, I realized that doing so would just incite another round of months and months of working hard, following by 30 seconds of feeling good about myself. Wow. So much work for so little pay-off. That's pathetic.

Are my accomplishments really worth so little to me? No; they're worth a lot. So what's the problem? The problem is that I think the triumphs will celebrate themselves. I think I can have a party and go to work at the same time. Gives new meaning to having your cake and eating it too.

I've had my cake sitting there for months now. It's been in the oven making the house smell tantalizing since last October. Time to eat it.

I took yesterday OFF. I slept in. I lay in bed and read half a novel. I ate junk food, including lots of chocolate. I played my favorite music really loud and packed up the house for moving (which was, despite how it sounds, rather enjoyable). My spouse made me dinner--the best leftovers I've ever had. And I didn't do an ounce of work for my job.

People say things about "deserving" a break. But I don't care whether I earned it or not. The fact is, I accomplished something that I want to celebrate. My way of honoring the end of one run isn't to jump on the next treadmill and start running again. I celebrate the victories by stepping off and enjoying a few moments standing still.

My success is only what I make it. It can be a big deal, if I make it, or not, if I don't. I decide how much I want to make of it, how big of a milestone it will be in my life. I want this milestone to be important. So instead of getting back on a stress-ridden life, I choose to stop for a moment and smell the roses.

There's always more on the other side. But that doesn't mean you can't stop for a bit and celebrate where you are.

Word count: 598.