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“Success” – that elusive, desirable thing that I personally, and I’m sure many of you, are striving to attain. Starting my own brand just under two years ago, I have wrestled with the idea of professional success more times than I can count. What does success really mean? How do I reach it? Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Success is not an end point.
As I celebrated milestones on my blog (10,000 fans in less than year! a segment on national TV!) it became clear to me – there is never, ever a moment in life where you can relax and say “I’ve made it.” Even if I publish a book, I still need sales to do well, and then after the book, I need something else, another project, to sustain that momentum. In other words, it can be a real rat race if you allow it to be. Success is never, ever a destination and you will never be done searching for it. So what’s the trick? The trick is to enjoy the journey. Take every single day and be thankful for what you have in that moment!
2. There is no such thing as overnight success.
Okay, let me re-phrase that: some things may seem like overnight success, but in pretty much every situation, there was a lot of hard work to get to that point. Take Bethenny Frankel for example - Skinny Girl margaritas may seem like a very quick rise to popularity and her reported $10 million check only a year after launch may seem like overnight success to us. But by watching her show, you see that she has been working towards that business idea for something like 10 years. And that she heard “no” more times than she could count. So everyone repeat after me: there is no substitute for hard work! Success takes time and effort.
3. Success is just as scary as failure.
No really, I promise. What happens when someone gives you TV show? Oh right, you actually have to do that TV show!! No pressure! It may seem like you really, really want something but at the moment when it’s time to step up, it can be just as terrifying as failure would have been. There is also a huge responsibility that can come with some types of success – more money means more decisions in life, a huge following means you should conduct yourself properly because you are now a role model. It may seem like rich/famous is the way to go, but most days I’m pretty darn comfortable where I am. And I try to be patient for success knowing I might not be mature enough yet to handle it!
4. Success is a roller coaster.
Every business has ups and downs, but there is one phenomenon you should know about – good and bad usually comes lumped together with other good and bad. In other words, when good things happen, they usually happen in one big chunk, leading you to feel energized and high on life. A few weeks later, everything seems to be going wrong, you receive bad news, and traffic is down. Over time, I have adapted my emotions to minimize the swing as much as possible. I celebrate success, but I also know that that feeling is temporary, and I won’t always be at the top of the roller coaster. And I do the same when I’m down. I don’t let it get to me, knowing that I will be climbing back up another hill soon enough.
5. You have to define success for yourself.
Success means different things to different people, so how you define it is something you have to determine for yourself. I really struggled with this question. I knew money wasn’t my motivator (I waited more than a year to monetize my blog), and while I absolutely love the satisfaction of helping women with fashion, I always felt like my definition of success was helping women on a larger scale. I recently came up with this definition:
"Success (for me) is not a certain number of fans, or money, or people reached, or even getting my own TV show. It's being able to say that I changed fashion journalism. That I made it more accessible, more realistic, less intimating and something all of us feel welcome to enjoy. That I earned the respect for everyday women from the fashion industry."
How do you define professional success? What are some lessons on success you've learned through the years?
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