How Do You Measure Success?

How Do You Measure Success?

As a parent and educator, I want my children and students to be successful. Many of us spend most of our 20s and 30s working towards a successful career. But how do we measure success? Is it making a 4.0? Is it being recognized for your accomplishments? Are you considered successful once you’ve accumulated a certain amount of money? Let’s consider an alternative that doesn’t include approval from anyone but you!

A Well-Rounded View 

What if we decided to look at success differently? Let’s say we measure it by the state of our mental health, the way we help others, and the amount of joy that we feel daily. Of course, every day will not measure up, but centering our lives around what we enjoy could make a big difference in our level of happiness. 

After years of trying to find the right work-life balance and knowing deep down that happiness comes from within, I have continued to feel stuck. This is why I’m trying something different. I’m working on accessing the internal peace that we all can experience much more frequently than we do. It seems like every mom I talk to is exhausted, overscheduled, and in need of a break. Is this sustainable? I am certainly not an expert on this topic, but I can share a practice that has been pivotal for me: aligning my actions with my values.

Creating a Balanced Life

Try this: find a list of values like this one from Brene Brown. Write down the values that resonate with you the most at home and/or work (8 – 10 values to start). Reflect on your current life in a way that feels comfortable to you. Maybe you like to write in a journal, go for a walk, or simply enjoy a rare moment of solitude. As you reflect, you may notice that there are aspects of your life that do not bring you joy AND are avoidable. Unfortunately, we can not opt out of parenting our toddlers during a meltdown, but we can put our phones out of sight for a while. Additionally, you can find small ways to add actions that align with your values. I think this is the easiest way to start experiencing more joy.

For example, one of my values is creativity, so I try to engage in creative activities with my kids. One simple way to do this is to turn in when they ask me to draw and color with them. I can’t always drop what I’m doing and join, but I have found that after reflecting on my values, I’m more likely to pause with the laundry and draw. Coincidentally, this leads to one of my other values which is connection. I feel more connected to my kids and they feel more connected to me. We all feel loved (another value), and life begins to feel a little less stressful and more enjoyable. Before you know it, you’ll realize that the small adjustments are adding up, and you may gain the confidence to take larger leaps like finally applying for your dream job! 

Reflection as a Practice 

As you know, circumstances change. Mom life is complicated. Years ago I read a quote from Steve Jobs that resonated with me, “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself:If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?‘ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  When I feel the need to change, I now look to my values. When my actions are out of line with my beliefs, I adjust. Of course, it’s not practical to live every moment of every day in alignment with your values. Part of this practice is self-compassion. When you find yourself off track, give yourself grace. No one is perfect. Self-reflect and redirect yourself as needed. When our children see us being self-compassionate, they will take up that practice as well. 

Success is Being True to Yourself

The less you have to compromise your values, the happier you will feel. Feeling happier in your day-to-day life will improve your self-confidence which could lead you to reframe your ideas of success for you and your children. Should you still have external goals? Absolutely. Should you measure your worth based on whether or not you accomplish these goals? No. I’m working to guide myself and my children to seek happiness from within, and it certainly feels like success to me.

Misty is a Louisiana native and a graduate of LSU, where she studied Elementary Education. After graduating in 2008, she promptly began her teaching career in Baton Rouge. Misty is married to her college sweetheart, and they reside in Kenner with their two children, Heidi and Maddux. After sixteen years of teaching in both public and private settings, she is making the transition to homeschooling. Education, social-emotional learning, and being in nature are her passions in life. When she’s not parenting and teaching, Misty enjoys reading, hiking, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.


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