What is success?

Am I successful?  I guess the answer to this question comes from what you define success as, is it money, power, happiness, position.  Looking at all of the different parts of what my life has been the past few years I would say that I am pretty successful it parts of my life, and want to start working on other parts.  I started doing some of this work when I was in my first trimester.  Dissecting the areas of my life that I felt were succeeding and fixing the areas that weren’t.  This wasn’t an easy process but I want to walk you through my discovery of my personal definition of success now.

In 2015 I finally started ‘adulting’.  Yes, I know the whole marriage thing was supposed to kick that off, and it did but I knew I was letting a lot of things slip.  So I started going to the doctor to figure out what was wrong with me.  It wasn’t normal to hurt everyday, and be exhausted all the time, and the multitude of other things wrong with me.  After a lot of “please test me for more things” I finally got a kernel of information that my immune system was messed up.  So after more doctors and more tests I discovered that  I was one of the lucky people who had the markers for an autoimmune disorder without any actual autoimmune disease.  Which is lucky I guess.  This allowed me to get on some medication to help with the pain and I was started to be able to function without being in pain every step.  It was glorious.

Then near the end of 2015 my husband and I decided we wanted to move out of Peoria.  We weren’t sure of the timeline, but we had decided to start a family and we knew it was important to have the little one raised around family.  By the time 2016 rolled around we had started looking for jobs but with the way family medical leave works and maternity leave we decided to wait until after the little one was born to make the move. This was hard because at this time both my husband and I were unhappy at our jobs.  We weren’t connecting to them anymore, and we found ourselves dreading going into work everyday.  Not speaking for him, but for me I felt stuck.  The state budget had basically locked down my program, and I found myself doing less of the program I loved and doing more just to stay busy.  I wasn’t happy and I am pretty sure anyone who spent two minutes talking to me at work recognized that as well.  But I needed to make it work, after all I was “successful” I was running my own program that I had been doing since out of grad school, I was part of city-wide initiative to integrate social service agencies, and I had even been asked to speak at meetings in Chicago due to the success of collaboration between myself and other agencies.  But none of this mattered, I felt utterly useless going into work and just defeated leaving work.

So despite this I made priorities and redefined my outlook.  It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, but it was paying bills, and the insurance was keeping me from drowning in medical bills (having babies is expensive). I knew that the PTO at this job would mean that I could basically take 6 partially paid and 6 full paid weeks of maternity leave.  I was set, so if I just redefined my role and  changed my perspective of work than it would be ok.  And it was, this job allowed me the freedom to attend my doctors appointments, and to relax when my feet decided to balloon up to the size of grapefruits and at the time that was what I needed to work.

However, this all adjusted my mindset for what success was.  Since on paper I was “successful” in my job yet it didn’t feel that way.  Than clearly I needed to adjust my definition of success.  So I started looking towards the future for success.  With this I started to plan for the future.  I donated more to my retirement plan through work (mental note reminder I need to get that merged into my current retirement plan).  I started pushing money into my savings whenever possible and then a fortuitous thing happened.  A good friend of mine left her job and joined a company that was entirely meant to help people plan for the future and set themselves up for success.  Initially I met with my friend as a trial and test thing for her but when getting the information it was actually really beneficial so I decided with a “hmm maybe this is a legitimate thing I should be looking into.  So we did.  And with many signatures later we had a plan to protect ourselves and our future.  FYI the underwriters for our insurance required more information than the underwriters for our house, and yes this did entirely surprise me.

I started defining success with what I was doing to plan for the future.  When I started doing this, work became easier. I knew it wasn’t my end all job but it was helping me plan for the future, it was the responsible choice to be making.  I wasn’t getting any reward at this moment, but by meaning with a financial planner and life insurance it helped me feel like I was “adulting” correctly.  Then once the baby was born (look at my blog about everything that has happened since then What a crazy hectic time it’s been…) success was measured completely differently.

I am so glad that while I was pregnant we started developing good habits, clean up before going to bed, make the bed in the morning, regular grocery shopping.  Because it has been easier to adapt and feel like I have kept everything together.  I am really good on routines, and because of the habits we started before he was born I think overall we adjusted pretty well.  I mean not going to lie post baby hormones are an evil thing because I definitely sobbed on the couch because he wouldn’t take a nap and all I wanted to do was shower. But things have settled and now that when we are in our own place I feel good.  I feel successful.  It was a weird thing as I write in a blog about success that even doing this more regularly is part of that.

Once life started settling down and we were forming our own routines in our own home, it was easy to see what my new definition of success was.  It didn’t matter how much money I was making because I loved my new job.  It didn’t matter the number of material objects we owned as long as what we owned made us happy. It didn’t matter what I did with my time, as long as what I was doing was bringing me joy and not hurting others.  My definition of success now is that I am living each day trying to make the best of it.  I don’t strive for the perfect life, because perfection isn’t realistic.  I just find my life pretty successful knowing that life is pretty freaking awesome right now.  And even when exhausted, I know its success because I wouldn’t change a bit of (well that’s not true, I would always accept more coffee).

~~~~

As I am trying to do games I played this weekend included: Potion Explosion, Legendary, Mansions of Madness, Karuba, Arcadia Quest, Clank, Harry Potter Battle of Hogwarts, and 7 wonders.

Game review: Harry Potter Battle of Hogwarts – I bought this game mainly because I am a fanatic about the original Harry Potter series.  So when I was lucky enough to find this 50% off after Christmas this year I picked it up.  Knowing that at least I would play it with a couple of my other HP fans.  I expected it to be like most licensed games and be honestly quite awful.  But to my complete surprise it has actually been really good.  It thematically is pretty great and it actually plays very similar to Legendary or Sentinals of the MultiVerse.  You play a character you buy cards and beat up evil death eaters.  It is a pretty smooth game, the roles are similar to any other deck builder and the flavor is great because it works and doesn’t feel disingenuous to the source material.  The game is broken out between the 7 books with an expansion incoming (I may or may not purchase it).  So far we are through book three, despite Draco and Lucius doing their best to end us.  It was pretty great and probably one we will continue to pick up over the game weekends.  Will definitely play again.

~~~

Until next time go listen Josh Groban’s cover of Evermore from Beauty and the Beast

~Reave~

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