This week, as I’ve been celebrating my two-year self-employment-aversary… I’ve also been sick. And we’re moving next week.
The culmination of these three separate occurrences has had me thinking a lot about my metrics of success – the determining factors that I use to determine how we’ll I’m doing, in the scheme of things.
A lot of my clients come to me struggling with success and enoughness, believing that they are constantly failing and falling short. They imagine that everyone expects super-human feats out of them… and that they just don’t stack up.
Together, we work on creating their own metrics of success, the barometers that allows them to check-in to see how well they are doing. Together, we talk about living our lives with intention – even when things don’t go the way that we might want them to.
Just as I believe that it is important to create our own life rules, I also believe that it’s really important to decide for ourselves when enough is enough – and when we’ve done a good job. I believe that we get to choose what success looks like for us.
A couple of years ago I was at an all-night meditation ceremony. During the moments of first light, the leader encouraged us to pause. He said that that moment, the moment when the sun is coming up and the sky begins to lighten all around you, is the moment to pray for exactly how you want your life to look.
I closed my eyes.
And when I opened them, Cookie and I were in a big kitchen. We had several sons. Everyone had the flu.
In the prayer, we were exhausted. Exhausted by taking care of our children. Exhausted by getting sick ourselves. Exhausted by trying to hold it all together. We looked at one another and laughed, throwing our hands up in the air and declaring that the week was pretty much shot so we should just relax into being sick and getting better all together.
It wasn’t a perfect vision, but it was all mine.
In the vision, we had time and space to be sick – to be human. It didn’t mean that we weren’t going to be able to pay our bills, because we had to call in sick to work. Or, that we had to pretend to be anything except for what we were – an exhausted, sick family, of imperfectly human individuals.
That is my prayer – to create a sustainable life. A life with space for living in it. A life where I can afford to be sick. To be sad. To cry. To be human. To hold space for my family to be human too.
An authentic life. Mess and all.
When I pray, I don’t pray for a life that is tied up with a beautiful bow.
I pray that I will be strong enough to be fully present in my life and work. That I will be able to show up – both for myself and for those that I love. That I will take care of myself so that I can continue to pour my energy into working with my clients.
When I was thinking about how proud I was that I had worked entirely for myself for two years, I wanted to say: Hey guys, GUESS WHAT?! I worked for myself for two years and guess what? No one died and I paid all of my bills on time.
For two years, that has been my metric for success: pay my bills and not die.
And when I’m feeling particularly fancy – I add in a few giggles and a bit of celebration every day.
Mostly, I try to have as much fun as possible, while also making ample space to be creative in my work.
I wanted to share these metrics of success with you, not because I think that they are in any way impressive.
In fact, I don’t find them impressive at all.
I find them livable. And human. They work for me.
To often, we are filled to the brim with the desire to make ourselves bullet proof.
We shun all sugar to eliminate our chance of getting cancer.
We pray to be so perfect that we will be above reproach – so that we’ll never be broken up with, fired, or wrong.
We pray that everyone will like us.
But, I’m wondering what might be different in our lives if we prayed for the space in our lives to be human.
To show up messy. To get sick. To have a headache. To need to curl up on the couch. To ask for a moment of silence. To ask someone we love to just hold us for a moment. To have needs.
Your life will never be perfect, but it will be all yours.
Of course, pray for the best outcome for every situation. Pray that you will have the capacity to navigate it all.
Pray for the courage to live to the farthest reaches and to the best of your abilities.
But, underneath it all… pray that you will be strong enough to know that you can control everything and sometimes, the best that you can hope for is throwing your hands in the air, laughing at the absurdity of it all, and not giving up on yourself.