My husband needed to go to the dentist recently, so I sent him to see an old classmate of mine in town.
“Wait,” he says, “You’re friends with a dentist?”
“I wouldn’t say we’re friends now, but yes, I went to school with him.” It didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I can think of at least five or six other classmates who went on to become physicians, real estate bigwigs, lawyers, and I think I may even know someone who works for a senator.
It’s not that I don’t think their accomplishments are notable—they are. But this is just their job; it’s what they do for a living.
We put so much weight and importance into the prestige behind our titles. Tack on a Dr., JD, or PhD to someone’s name, and we think it automatically elevates their status. I can’t buy into that line of thinking.
Success isn’t contingent upon a title or a paycheck. A successful person is someone who is unashamedly and doggedly pursuing their dreams—whatever they may be.
In fact, some of the most unsuccessful people are those who either aren’t pursuing their dreams or those who are living the dream that someone else has laid out for them.
Titles aren’t impressive but making the most of talents is.
I held a job for seven years that could have been my fast track to the corporate suite. According to society, I would have to be a fool to ever leave it. A salary, paid vacation, 401k, profit sharing, health insurance, and travel. This job had all the bells and whistles made to impress people, and I hated every moment of it.
I plugged away each day because it was what I’d been conditioned to believe I needed to do to be successful, but it literally ate away at my soul—day after day.
Was this really what I was meant to do for the next 40 years?
Leaving that prestigious role would be flushing any chance of success down the drain, wouldn’t it?
I left it.
I left and took the chance to pursue my talents and dreams. I wasn’t an overnight success, and I’m still not. In fact, I started so small that my first few paychecks didn’t even cover my expenses.
My success had shown up in different ways during the early days.
My back no longer hurt from sitting at a desk eight hours a day. I no longer felt tired and unmotivated. Success was showing up in my relationships with my children. I was able to enjoy them and their milestones while being at home.
Career success took a bit longer. It showed up incrementally, project by project. My greatest obstacle with success was believing in myself and all of my capabilities.
When society has been telling us that our success doesn’t measure up because we have chosen a different and almost reckless path, convincing ourselves that we can be successful is challenging.
Don’t let anyone diminish your success.
A stay-at-home parent is killing it if that is the way they flourish. You aren’t wasting your degree if you have decided your best contribution is being home while doing everything to ensure your children’s success.
My husband might have been impressed that I know a dentist, but I’m constantly amazed that he’s been able to overcome a checkered past and addiction and had become the man he is today. That not only can he rebuild a car, plumbing an entire home and business, but also build custom furniture and fix almost anything that breaks in our home. Add in the fact that he’s a wildly talented tattoo artist.
Well, my writing ability pales in comparison to everything he is capable of.
Success has nothing to do with the size of your home, the titles in your name, or the amount of money in your checking account. You are successful if you can wake in the morning with a smile on your face, if you look forward to your day and your work, and if you fall asleep at night either content or dreaming of what is next because you know what is possible.
A coworker from that “dream job” of mine recently made it to the corporate suite. My husband said to me,” That could have been you.” All I could think of was, “I’m so happy it’s not.”
Go ahead and live your dreams.
Pursue your success. Choose your titles and wear them proudly.