Ten years ago, I found myself newly divorced, living back with my parents, out of work on an extended medical leave, and face to face with the terrifying realization that the life I had created up until that point, was one that I did not enjoy living.
Losing everything I had worked so hard to achieve and cultivate (namely; my marriage, my career, my health, my wordily possessions and the religion of my youth) gave me the unique opportunity to choose between two contrasting ways of being:
Having spent time in both camps, I decided to go with the latter and create a life for myself that felt authentic, hopeful and full of purpose. Here’s what I came up with:
Sam’s 2008 Definition of Success:
Today, I have achieved every item on my definition of success and created the life I wanted (Ok, I still have a thing or two to learn in the kitchen).
But what happens now? What do I do after I have achieved my definition of success?
Option 1: Enjoy it.
I realize I live a really fortunate life. I get to work on projects that I love with people I admire. And although I enjoy my life very much, the prospect of “retiring” feels anti-climatic and rather empty for me. My life would not be full if I did not keep learning and expanding.
Option 2: Come up with a definition of success that is bigger and better than ever before.
Although I like this option because it provides the opportunity to set more goals and live a life full of purpose and meaning, I can’t help but wonder if I will find myself in the same situation 10 years from now having achieved yet another Success List. Is this all there is to life? Making lists and checking off boxes?
Option 3: Re-Define my Definition of Success
My new definition of success is less about having to prove to others (and to myself) that I am a good artist, teacher and checking things off a list.
I have clear vision of the “ultimate” version of myself. When I am making decisions, I ask myself whether or not the idealized version of myself would do the same. If the answer is “Yes”, I know I am in line with my new definition of success.
One thing has not changed though: My overwhelming desire to inspire the people around me to live their best lives. If I can contribute to the personal growth and the happiness quotient of others, I believe I am contributing to a better world.
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This blog was created to share my belief that the art making process can be a vehicle for empowerment.
I am living proof.