SELF PORTRAIT SERIES 3/52
Last year we went to Hawaii for a month to visit my brother Spencer and his family. While I was there he took me through his strategic framework, which he does for a lot of his clients and taught me a few things that have helped me better navigate my life. The most impactful thing he taught me was how to define what success means to me. I didn’t realize the freedom, direction and peace that would come as I defined success for myself.
Defining My Success
Most people are motivated by three things - money, fame and power. But things present a problem when used to measure success. How do you measure yourself against something that literally has no limit? A person can always have more money, more fame, and more power. If you allow those thing to define your success, chances are you’ll always be left wanting more. You’ll never feel satisfied. Spencer pointed this out to me when I expressed how hard it is to grow on IG. “When will enough be enough?” he asked. The truth is, it will never be enough. That’s when I knew I had to reevaluate my definition of success because I was running fast in the wrong direction.
As I’ve taken the time to really think about what success means to me, I’ve found that I measure it based on health, feelings and relationships. I know we need money to survive and I've had to define that as well, but as I have focused on the things that matter more to me, the money falls into place.
My mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health are ways that I’ve begun to measure my success. How do I connect to myself and my higher being? Am I becoming the person I want to be? Learning to track these things has been tricky. It’s easy to become overwhelmed or impatient with myself, but I’m learning to take care of myself through small and simple steps each day. Waking up early, brushing my teeth, breathing deeply, reading, praying, pondering, listening, and enjoying small moments in the grind of life. These are the things that contribute most to the success of my health.
The older I get the more I realize how precious it is. I try my hardest to find food, products, supplements, etc. that will build me up. When I stick with a routine and plan better, I feel like I have way more control and happiness. It's not just about what I put into my body physically, but spiritually, emotionally and mentally, as well. It is always a balancing act, and I’m not perfect (my screen time can get out of hand fast), but I am always better when I set boundaries and stick with them.
To measure my health I check in weekly. I check in with myself and I check in with God. I have a few questions that I answer honestly, and whether I did good or not-so-good, I thank myself and recommit to keep going.
Feelings - Again, this is hard to measure. I love feeling all the feelings--it makes me feel alive. I love knowing that I get to experience sadness and pain, happiness and joy. I also love learning to feel with others. I measure this by how I react to scenarios that creep up. I am learning so much about how my health and my feelings mix. It is insane how when we are healthy we can manage our feelings so much better. When the kids spill milk all over the couch I’m not as quick to blow a lid. I’m learning to honor my feelings and hone in those deep emotions. I feel more and more successful the more I feel and the deeper I go.
When I do feel anger, or a feeling that probably needs more time to process, I compartmentalize. This has been key in my feelings process. Sometimes we can’t deal with things and we need to put the feelings/situation/emotions in a little box and shelf it until we are in a safe place to deal. For example, Aspen stabbed the side of our new car interior with a pencil making deep marks in the side panel. We were on our way to her birthday party when Ammon and I both noticed. Old Abi would have lit up and freaked out. It’s a brand freaking new car! But I realized that those emotions and scolding her in that moment probably wasn’t the best move. So I chose not to react, but to hang on and chat with her later, when the time was right. That is just a quick example, but I’m learning there are a ton of small moments like that throughout my day that I can check myself and ask if I want to deal with that now, or later.
There are not many things we can take with us when we die, but relationships are one thing I believe are eternal. I recently learned I’m an enneagram 8, which means I like deep relationships with a small number of people. I measure my success off of the connections I have with others and how we can learn from each other. Again, it’s not easy to measure this, but I know that if you can pinpoint certain things inside your relationships, they will thrive. Here are a few questions I have for myself:
- Did I spend a little time one on one with each of my kids today?
- Did Ammon and I go on a date this week and connect?
- How many times did I show Ammon I loved him in the way he likes to receive it?
- Is there anyone I need to forgive this week?
- Is there anyone I need to apologize to this week?
- Is there someone specific that needs my help this week and what can I do for them?
This category is all about service and time. These are the only things I’ve found to measure my relationship status. It might be a phone call, it might be a prayer or even a thought or it can be a huge gesture.
Something I'm super excited to do with Ammon, now that our kids are in all day school, is go hiking with him on Mondays. We also plan to take a scripture class together. These are two things I know will strengthen our relationship. Taking time and making it a priority will pay off ten fold. I promise.
Defining Your Success
I wanted to share these things with you in a self portrait post for two reasons:
- I know that if you decide to define success in your own way, and set clear goals to achieve it, your life will change for the better.
- By understanding me better, you might get clarity into understanding yourself better. I find I do when I see an example first.
I would love to hear what you use to measure your success. What is most important for you to feel fulfilled and successful? Are there things holding you back from reaching more happiness?
Can’t wait to hear,