Success and Failure. – A great message from Elizabeth Gilbert. A quick (7-ish minutes) watch and some good points…. plus if you watch this it will give you some context for my comments below.
In this clip, Elizabeth Gilbert speaks about the places of Great Success and of Great Failure and the impact of these experiences really have on our subconscious.
While arguably I have never experienced the level of success nor perhaps the level of failure that Gilbert or others have, I think there a very valuable lesson to learn here. A lesson we can all apply to our lives to recognize what truly sets our souls on fire. What drives us. What balances our lives out and stabilizes us – what brings us to ‘home’.
Over the past two to three years, I’ve faced a lot of choices. I’ve made a lot of changes.
I threw everything up in the air so that I could return to the things in life that I truly love.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I decided to leave the successful start to a career that could have lasted me for the entirety of my working years, one that provided many opportunites and experiences that others have sought and fought for, a career that was fun and exciting. I know that I had a good thing and truthfully I really loved my job. Sure there were stressful moments, and it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but overall my work-life was great.
And then I left that job. And honestly, shocked a few people (maybe even myself). And then I learned a lot about many of the people that were in my life. It was interesting to see who told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life and who came up and congratulated me on being brave enough to step out to follow what I found more important than the career that would have allowed me to have a very comfortable life. It was also eye-opening to see what rumors and stories circulated, the explanations that people tried to provide for themselves on why I would walk away from the clear path of ‘success’ that I had walked down the past 10 years.
Unfortunately, while our work-life does absorb a large portion of our lives – the Bureau of Labor states that the average American spends about 8.8 hours a day working (and honestly, some of us work a bit more than this… but we’ll stick with the stats). So if we assume we are an American with college degree working from age 22 and retiring at age 67, working 5 days a week with 2 weeks of vacation… an individual ends up working roughly 99,000 hours in their lifetime (around 24%). The rest of our time is largely spent sleeping, assuming 8 hours of sleep a night over those same 45 years, we have 131,040 hours (31%). This leaves about 45% of our time for ‘other activities’ – eating, caring for others, taking care of our living spaces, leisure/recreation, etc.
And that 45% was the why that drove me to make the changes I did.
There are certain things in life that we can spend energy on and they return an exponential amount of energy back to us. For me, that thing is relationships with my family and having a strong community to belong to, time spent open spaces and digging in the dirt, and of course the time I spend in pursuit of my athletic challenges.
After reading the book “Start with Why” and really working through my own ‘why’, it became apparent that I had to stop kicking the ball down the road as I had done the previous 10 years and make the changes in my life that I had been delaying. I always knew my return back to Eastern NY was inevitable, but often let the ‘the how’ stop me from pursuing it since I had such a good career in Syracuse.
Clearly, I did not use this as an excuse to stop working and move back in with my parents because I just ‘felt’ like moving back. Nor did I leave my previous situation without a plan and a path forward that would allow me to continue to support myself financially (just taking that free-loading millennial card off the table…). Looking back, my first plan may not have been perfect and I did have to adjust my sails midway through the transition, which was not easy, but even without a perfect ‘how’ I was able to take the leap and make things work to achieve my goals.
Taking that walk down a different path is definitely scary. Stepping out of that place of comfort is daunting. And the end result, I won’t lie, does not always feel 100% perfect. However, I can safely say that if you have a nagging feeling that just won’t go away and continues to grow – a desire for something different, something more, you shouldn’t ignore it.
If that feeling keeps growing it is time. Follow your heart, your gut, your intuition. There is a reason your body won’t let go of that little piece of inspiration and desire.
There is more to success than those accomplishments that we place on our resume or tout on our social media accounts. There is more to each failure than what anyone can truly express or relate. When we fail, we learn. When we succeed, we know it was through hours of hard work and effort which ultimately makes it appear effortless.
As Gilbert speaks of, both failure and success can be strangely disorienting. It is those times of disorientation that we need to remember and truly understand our own ‘why’ in life so we can fight our way back.