I drove into the quiet village of Tofino, BC in the early afternoon.
It was pouring rain. The sky was grey and black. Miserable sums up the vibe very well.
That is, until I walked into my waterfront cabin to check-in.
Sitting at the check-in counter was this guy, probably in his 20s or 30s. Long, shaggy hair, red and black checkered flannel shirt. He looked a lot like a Californian transplanted in the dreary Northwest.
So, I asked him about it and he said it was his. Apparently, it was great to get up and down the coast to surf.
Jokingly I said, "Yeah, if this weather would stop."
His response was heavy. "This is the best weather to surf, man. No one's out there. Just you and the waves."
I went on to ask him where he was from – how he came to be in little Tofino on an island just northwest of Vancouver.
He was a "local" from Vancouver since childhood, moved to California for a few years, but left the rat race to come home. He gave up his high paying job and flashy California lifestyle because his heart was somewhere else.
I walked out of that conversation changed. I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to live a simple life with no stress. Just doing what I love.
In my mind, that was true success.
Fast-forward 9 months and I am that guy, more or less. I quit my high-stress job, moved to a small resort town in North Idaho, and work at a ski resort.
Free season pass, chair lift seconds from my office door, and the nicest people I've ever met surround me.
There's just one thing wrong.
I didn't feel successful.
My ambitions to succeed had gotten the best of me. I wanted to build something big. I wanted to be someone.
I saw entrepreneurs of the world building tribes and starting movements and that's what I wanted.
I wanted the never-ending workdays & loads of work. A purpose for life.
You see, I had a problem. A problem I'm sure many of us have had.
There was an ideal me that I wanted to achieve and I could never be happy with the person I currently was.
Whatever I had at the moment, it was wrong. I wanted something different. I was constantly chasing success and no matter how big of a leap I made toward it, it would shoot off in the opposite direction.
I had, what I call, a Sinatra moment: "I want to get away from it all, but not too far away."
We often view success as one of two things:
- A life with a prestigious job and a mortgage and two cars and college savings accounts and a boat and a 10 burner barbecue and….
- A life where experiences trump anything else.
How do you effectively work toward being the person you want to be while being happy with the person you currently are?
Well, I asked that question to my Facebook clan and I got a great response that I think shines light on what success truly is.
"Partially by trusting that you are a wonderful work in progress and at your core you are absolutely a perfect ray of light."
That is what true success is: Being okay with who you are at this given moment and understanding that what you're meant to be, will be.
Here are 5 ideas that have helped me and will help you when you find yourself unhappy with your current place in life:
- Hold a mirror up to your past. – Reflect on what you've accomplished already. We tend to focus on the future and lose track of what amazing things we've already done. Being mindful of your accomplishments will help you be okay with where you're currently at.
- Get competitive – It's okay to compare yourself to others. The key here is to find others in your similar pool but who have not accomplished as much as you. Not to brag or even get cocky, but if you're like me, you often compare yourself to others who are better than you. People you aspire to be. Take some time to look at others who may aspire to be you.
- Write it all out – We often have big dreams and aspirations but never write them down. Not only is this a bad idea because you won't hold yourself accountable, but it's hard to "check something off" when you finally do accomplish it. Even worse, you may just completely forget about it.
- Dig deep – Take a couple of hours to work on the question: "What does success look like to me?" Because success is different to everyone. As I've shown, what was success for the Tofino Surfer wasn't necessarily success for me. When working on this question, really dig in past the superficial junk. Keep asking yourself "˜why' when you have a reason something means success for you.
- Pre-evaluate, evaluate, and reevaluate – Always be cognizant of your happiness and success. Take the time to work through what success means to you, how you're successful right now in this moment, and what you can do better to remain successful in the future. You can't just go along in life, not defining what success means to you, and expect it to show up.
So, being a professional ski bum or surf bum isn't necessarily the life for me. Neither is being a fast-paced, corporate drone.
I failed twice at trying to be successful when you look at each situation separately.
But if you look at my life from a 30,000 foot view, I have succeeded.
I've experimented with my life and found what I like and don't like. I took chances and asked myself very clearly what success means to me. I've reached a point where I am at ease with who I've become and what is yet to happen.
How about you?
Do you feel you're currently working toward success like it's an end-result?
Or do you understand success is an ever-changing journey that we are all constantly striving for?
It's time we let ourselves be okay with being successful in this very moment.