“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
~ Maya Angelou
It’s common for people talk about ‘becoming more successful’. In fact, Google the phrase and you will find approximately 401 million results. These results offer all kinds of thoughts, and ultimately this article will become one of them. But when it comes to becoming more successful from a spiritual perspective, what does that really mean? And is it possible?
Taking a purist stance, one could argue that as a spiritual being you are already perfectly whole and beautifully complete. In your spiritual perfection you cannot be more successful. Yet we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and it is in our perfectly imperfect humanity that we seek more success. Our challenge, and our opportunity for growth and learning then comes in how we define success from a spiritual perspective, and, once defined, how we set about achieving the success we desire.
My personal pet subject, and something that I have spent at least the past fourteen years learning about and developing, is the power of belief, both conscious and subconscious. This is never more relevant than when we investigate success. In my recent book, Igniting Success Beyond Beliefs: How to get from where you are to your greatest yet to be, I dive deep into the meanings we give to success, what we learned about success as children, and how we now get to re-evaluate our beliefs, re-set them, and ultimately get a much clearer idea about our current definition of success from a position of high consciousness and spiritual living.
In researching the book I discovered that many of us are living by beliefs and definitions about success that are not our own. They were acquired from parents, care givers, teachers, extended family members or even friends. They have become our default beliefs, but we have never taken the time to check in with them for who and how we are today. Here are some of the programmed beliefs I received about success, and some thoughts about how we might reassess our programming, taken from the chapter entitled, “I’ll be successful when…”
“Without a clear personal definition of success, how do you know when you arrive? If you believe that success is something to strive for, and eventually achieve, then you probably want to create a road map of what it looks like and how to get there. Without knowing what success means to you, you will be constantly striving and moving forward without an end in sight. Such an approach could result in the creation of feelings of failure more than feelings of success. To discover a definition of success that is authentically yours, I invite you to do some investigation. First look at where your beliefs came from. Then evaluate how true they are for you today. After evaluation, you may want to apply some critical thinking to any discoveries, and review how the beliefs apply to the values you have in life.”
“My definition of success has changed many times through my life and I’m sure yours has too. As a younger person, without realising it, I automatically wore many of my parents’ beliefs like a coat. These beliefs included an unspoken definition of success. If I were to capture that definition it would look something like this:
- Success is completing a university degree, getting a good, stable, job with a lasting future, one that pays enough for you to buy your own home and live in a good area.
- Success is getting married to someone of the same social and economic background as you, having two children and at least one cat.
- Success is taking a family holiday in the summer and driving a reasonably new car that is always kept clean and tidy.
- Success is having a well-organised, clean and tidy home, not too cluttered, that closely resembles a show home.
- Success is keeping yourself to yourself, staying out of other people’s business, and meeting for coffee once a week with a girlfriend.
If I were to actually apply this definition of success to my life, I would have failed on everything except the cat. If I believed that not conforming to this definition means I am a ‘failure’, I could easily find myself feeling bad or sad, but the truth is it’s simply not my definition of success. Ironically, it is only as I write this that I see clearly how much of my early struggle came from my not fitting into someone else’s unspoken and subtle but nevertheless very present definition of success. Could this be true for you too? Take a moment to think about any hidden, subtle definitions of success that may still be at work within you.
When we think about how success is defined in the developed countries of the world it is all based on external things. This would be an okay plan if people felt good about themselves when they ‘achieved success’, but on the whole they are miserable. What if the world has got its idea of success all back to front? What if we are defining success in the wrong way, and looking for success in the wrong place? What if success comes from the inside out and has nothing to do with what the Tao Te Ching calls “the world of the 10,000 things”? It’s not that achieving external results, or driving a sexy sports car, are bad things. But they come and go throughout our life. Defining our success by transient external things is unlikely to create the deep and lasting sense of inner wellbeing that most of us are seeking.”
Prior to reading this article, how would you have completed the sentence, “I’ll be successful when…”?
Always remember that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, simply your fresh awareness to old, habitual thought. The really great news is that you get to decide what you think and believe. As you allow your mind to meander around your beliefs about success, their roots, and the impact of them on your current state of wellbeing, could you be willing to re-write your personal success statement?
You get to decide. As the creator of your own life experience, you are the architect and the builder of your own success. Once you create the design and blueprint, then it becomes much easier to break down the steps to building the end result. No matter what programmed beliefs you may have about success, you get to decide right now what you want success to look like in your life.
My new definition of success looks like this:
I am happy. I am deeply fulfilled by the work and service I do. I have the time and money freedom to work, rest and play in ways that bring me joy, and make a difference in the world. I nourish and nurture myself daily, in body, mind and spirit. I spend time with people I love, and who love me. I live, love and thrive by means of my personal spiritual practise. I know that I am never alone, and that I am Infinite Life expressing in a carbon suitcase. I am blessed.
On this basis, I am already successful beyond my wildest dreams. Yet it hasn’t always been that way. Like every other mortal on this planet I have been on a journey. I’m continuing on it daily, and in each moment I decide where I place my attention, energy and focus. And you can too.
I invite you to play with new possibilities for your success, and start from the inside out.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
Juliet Vorster is a speaker, coach, author and broadcaster, based near Southampton on the South Coast of the UK. She is also a spiritual counsellor and an independently ordained New Thought Minister. Juliet is passionate about human potential and specialises in our ability to change our beliefs and thereby change our life experience. As well as her book, Igniting Success Beyond Beliefs, Juliet has a weekly radio show entitled Beyond Beliefs on Natural Health Radio (http://www.NaturalHealthRadio.co.uk), which airs every Thursday at 8pm UK time (noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern). You can find out more about Juliet on her website.
Her book Igniting Success Beyond Beliefs: How to get form where you are to your greatest yet to be, is available in print and Kindle from Amazon.
You can connect with her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JulietVorster, Twitter: https://twitter.com/Juliet_Vorster and LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/julietvorster