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Who’s Life Are You Living?


When I was a kid one of my favorite TV shows was The Cosby Show, I never got sick of watching it. I loved Cliff and Clair Huxtable, they seemed to have it all together and that's what I wanted.

Based on watching the show I wanted to be either an obstetrician or a lawyer. They made it look so easy. The work life balance was effortless. As a child I didn't realize there was much more to it.

As I got older and matured I realized obstetrician were not just the baby doctors they appeared to be. I wanted to work with babies but that was it. When I considered pediatrics, I shortly discovered science wasn't my subject.

So I still had the lawyer thing as an option. I was good at arguing and solving problems.

When I told my family about my career aspirations of course they didn't stand in my way. I mean who would, your kid wants to be an attorney you'd probably be thrilled. Why, because everyone thinks you'll be rich and money equals happiness, right?

That seems to be the collective view. If you have money you have everything, not a care in the world. While money may solve financial issues, it's not a universal remedy. But that’s something I had to figure out on my own.

I just got, you'll be a lawyer, make a lot of money and live happily ever after. Maybe not in those words but that was the gist of it. And this wasn't just coming from my family but teachers, guidance counselors, everyone that's supposed to know and help me.

So the general message was clear, making a lot of money makes you successful. It wasn't until after I was in college that I discovered that what I learned was society’s definition of success, and that I could make my own.

More importantly live my own.

They Told Me to Do It

It all started to make sense. I knew a number of people who by society's standards were successful but weren't happy. If you're successful you should be happy, right? I mean why not, you have what you want. But they weren’t.

They had what others thought they should have. They lived the way other people thought they should. They didn't bother with what would make them happy.

They all were lacking something in some major element of their life, relationships, health or career. They might have had a decent job but they didn't enjoy it. You can’t celebrate a successful career when you hate going to work.

I've been steadily employed since I was 17 and had my fair share of jobs I despised. I definitely didn't want a career I couldn't stand. So I started composing my own definition for success, which included happiness in the equation not as an unlikely sum.

In order to do that I had to figure out exactly what I wanted. So I clarified my goals and desires. I used that to gauge my success.

What other people expected of me didn't matter. My success would be defined by my ability to reach my own goals.

Do What You Want

While money is good to have (we all have bills) it's just a piece of the puzzle. To establish your own definition of success you have to identify priorities and examine them.

First you have to determine where you are and where you want to be. Uncovering this will help you figure out what being successful means to you.

For a lot of us, priorities include relationships, career and health. This is not conclusive but the commonality for most people, so don't hesitate to add to the list or subdivide it.

1. Relationships

If you’re not happy with your relationships, romantic or otherwise, all the money in the world isn’t going to change that.

Figure out what is missing from it, basically what you desire. Ask yourself if you’re happy the way things are, what would make you happy and how that can be achieved.

Reflect on relationships that you admire. Identify what draws you to them. That can give you greater insight on what you’re looking for.

Talk to your partner about it, because in order for this to work you both have to be involved.

Filling in those gaps will help to bring you and your relationship into a more content place.

2. Career

You can’t talk to me about crappy jobs. I’ve had them on varying levels. Now, I probably have not have the worst, but the levels of dissatisfaction with them were all over the spectrum.

I learned the most about the one job that I liked at the beginning but over time couldn’t take anymore. Basically I figured out what I loved about it and compared it to what I couldn’t stand. From there I was able to tease out what I wanted in my next position.

If you dread Sunday evenings just because you know it means Monday morning is right around the corner then you need a serious change. Your job should feel like your most hated chore.

Don’t forget to keep in mind your career aspirations for the future when painting the picture of your ideal job. Considering this will ensure the position can last the test of time.

3. Health

Nowadays there are so many different dietary needs. Some are for healthy living but some people just treat them as fad diets and trends.

The 21 day cleanse that your friend is doing sounds super healthy and has its benefits (as well as sacrifices), but that doesn’t mean you should do it too.

Instead focus on the shape you want to be in, and the health concerns you want to address.

If there’s a 10K that you’ve always wanted to run, then train for it. If you’ve always wanted to exercise more frequently to increase your overall stamina, add it to your schedule.

Just focus on what you need health wise.

Now that you have a better idea of what you want and what will make you happy. You are able to create your own definition of success.

Don't worry about keeping up with your friends, chances are they don't live on their own terms instead, someone else's. Work on what will make you happy.

Once you're happy with your life you'll realize the importance of individual happiness. You won't judge someone for not following status quo because you'll know from experience different things make different people happy.

Even at different stages in life your definition of success might change. Every now and then review your idea of success to make sure you are still in alignment with it.

Your definition can change as your life evolves and priorities shift. But as long as you’re changing with it, you’re still a success.


Tell me…

Are you living up to your definition of success? What would make you happy and successful?


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About Lea

Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!

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  • Hey Lea,

    You write about some points that I was so familiar with. That Sunday night dread that Monday was a five day working week. I can’t believe how many years I felt that. Such a heavy burden. I knew I was not following what I wanted to do, but I did search for it. Never giving up.

    I had often watched other people become what society had taught them happiness was and while I was not happy – I watched and wondered how other people continued steadily on paths that did not suit them or knew they did not like but did anyway. I was always fascinated. I felt a deep dissatisfaction about where I wanted to go, so I was always curious about how others maintained the status quo, or was it that they really were unaware.

    The answer lied in both areas. My lesson was a big turn around for me. I realised my time was far more important than money when I found my passion. Now I work at it every day always knowing that I’m on the right path and its easy to remain there without wanting to steer off. Thanks for the reminder.


    • Lea

      Hey Rachel,

      Isn’t it crazy how many of us have jobs that we don’t like. Glad you hear you found your way out of the rat race.

      I can completely relate with you on that note. I don’t get why people continue to do something that they can’t stand without even trying to get out of it. I would constantly be looking for an escape.

      Great realization Rachel. Everyone should make the effort to work towards or on their passion daily. I think too many of us just put it on the back burner, only looking at it as a hobby or something we can never really have.

      Thanks for sharing, hope you’re enjoying the weekend.


  • Hi Lea,

    Loved this post. It really resonates when you have lived all different ways of life and then get to the point where you can see what it is you want more importantly than another. It’s awesome how you shared the methods of figuring out what it is you want and how to get to that point. I think that is where almost all people get stuck.

    I used to think it was all about driving a career and making great money to reach success and then I learned success is completely about having a healthy balance with the things you want and desire the most. Each persons success is measured differently. I really believe when you sit down and look deeper inside yourself to learn what it is that you really want to be happy and content, it is an amazing feeling because you are able to enjoy the journey moving toward your dream better.

    Great post Lea. I absolutely loved it. You can bet I am going to be sharing it doll because there are so many that can benefit from this kind of thinking and understanding.

    Have a great weekend.


    • Lea

      Hi Irish,

      You’re right, it is where a lot of people get stuck. I’ve had that issue myself.

      Me too! I fell right into that trap also. Yes, a great salary is not directly related to happiness and success. There’s much more to the equation. And I think that and defining your own success is something that we all should be tough early on.

      Thanks Irish, I really appreciate it. You enjoy the weekend.


  • Hi Lea,

    Making money doesn’t necessarily mean success. I remember in the 80’s there was a saying “He who has the most toys wins” or was it the 90’s I forget…anyway society shouted that out to the mindset of people that we need to have lots of money in order to be considered a success.

    In my journey I’ve known many with loads of money that were so unhappy or ill. Money isn’t everything it is the life style we live. As long as we have our health, love in our lives and are happy what more can we ask for?


    • Lea

      Hi Donna,

      Yup, that’s probably exactly where it all came from. I couldn’t agree with you more Donna. Money isn’t the absolute ingredient for happiness. In some cases it causes more problems. You have to dig deep in yourself to find what makes you happy.


  • Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    Very motivational. Relationships, career, and health are three big areas (arguably the most important areas) in life. If you are doing things in those areas for someone else, you are wasting your time. You have to focus on your needs. Thanks for the great read.

    • Lea

      You’re so right Aliyyah. Where were you when I was trying to please others to be happy?? Lol. I had to learn the hard way but I can agree with you completely. Thanks for commenting 🙂