Recently while picking up my youngest daughter from school one of the teachers noticed me doing some work as I waited in the car line. She asked about what I do. After talking about my job as a blogger and how much I cherish the flexibility to be with my kids as much as I am, she asked me to write a letter to my daughter about becoming a successful woman.
My first thought was: Me?!
I thought about that task for a while. Some days I was full of ideas and eager to write but failed to sit down and do so. Other days I found the topic to be so broad that it overwhelmed me. SUCCESS…what do I want my daughter to know about success? What really makes a person successful?
Am I even successful enough to be giving advice on this topic? After a lot of consideration I decided the answer is YES! While my view of success may be different from others, I do have a thing or two to say to my daughter about becoming a successful woman.
These are my thoughts, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments below.
Dear sweet girl,
As you grow up you’ll think about what you want to become and what you hope to accomplish in life. People will often talk about success, and you’ll probably spend a lot of time daydreaming about the future you want. Most often when people discuss success they do so in terms of careers and finances. And while I’m happy to help you navigate finding success in your chosen career, I encourage you to also pay attention to a different kind of success–success in life. When I was younger I didn’t quite see the distinction between career success and success in life, but the difference is significant and to be truly happy you’ll have to understand that. I’m not saying you can’t have both, but you’ll need to consider them both in light of each other in order to find your own version of success.
If I’m being honest with you my dear girl, I may not always feel so successful. There are days when I let my to-do list dictate my priorities. There are numerous times when I question whether I’ve made the right choices. And there are moments when I just don’t want to accept that I can’t have it all. Truthfully there are times when I’m certain I’ve failed completely. Our minds have a way of creating self-doubt, and it takes a very strong woman to quiet the various doubts running through her mind and focus instead on the positive things she’s created in her life.
You should know that being successful doesn’t mean living without doubts or being happy all of the time. Unfortunately that’s just not possible. How you handle those doubts and struggles however does have an impact on whether or not you will be successful. To be successful in life, a woman needs to…
Know herself and her priorities. The only way to focus on what you really want in life is to truly understand your own personality, needs, and aspirations. When you are clear about those, you can begin creating the life you want.
Be confident in her decisions. Unfortunately knowing yourself and your priorities isn’t enough. You’ll find that often some of these are at odds with one another, and you’ll have to pick and choose which priorities rank highest on your list at different times in your life. Once you decide, own your decisions and don’t apologize for them!
Work hard. Simple, but so important. Whatever you choose to do, do it well.
Embrace that things may not go as planned. Success is often thought of as a checklist of things we hope to accomplish. There will be times–for a variety of reasons–when that list crumbles and you’ll find yourself on a completely new path. Don’t fight it!
Use setbacks as learning opportunities. Accepting that things won’t go as planned gives us the chance to reaffirm our priorities and learn more about the direction we are moving. Although it can be scary, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and your own strength in the process.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, consider how far you’ve come. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. It’s so easy to look at others who have accomplished this or that and feel like we should be doing something similar. But the fact is we’re all different people, with different priorities, and different approaches. Forget what other people are doing. And always remember that whatever you see on the surface is only part of the story. You don’t know how hard they’ve worked or what they’ve sacrificed to reach their goals. Set your own goals, and then celebrate the progress you’ve made.
Accept that she can have a lot but not have it all. Ugh, I wish this weren’t true. And there are still days when I refuse to accept it, but you will be both happier and more successful at whatever it is you choose to do if you can embrace this truth. For me (and many others) there is just not enough time in a day/month/year to do all the things I want to do, so it’s important for me to revisit the priorities that mean the most to me and then plan accordingly. When I do that, I still don’t have it all but I definitely have more than enough of the things most important to me.
Be content with the life she creates. Often we get distracted by what we think our lives “should” be, what things we think we “should” have, what goals we think we “should” have achieved. These may be pressures we’ve put on ourselves because of societal norms, parental or peer influence, or–perhaps more often–our own expectations. But if you’ve done all of the things above, then I’m quite certain you’ll have created a life to be proud of. Forget what “should” be and find joy in what “is.” Be content with your life as it is right now in this moment.
As you work toward your own success, I’ll be your biggest advocate. I’ll be right here beside you cheering you on, holding your hand, and helping you get back up when you’ve fallen down.
And when you’re not sure whether what you’re doing is making a difference and you question whether you’re even successful at all, I’ll be right there to help you chase those doubts away.
Watching you grow and mature has always been a reminder to me that I am successful in the ways most important to me, and I know that you will find your own success too.
What else would you add? What actions do you think are most important for finding success? Let me know in the comments.