No one ever told me to watch out for "success."
For me, success meant money, material, and recognition.
In 2015, work had what felt like exploded at the time, everything was going well, and my definition of achieving "success" seemed like it was within reach.
Money, material, and recognition are not bad things at all. But if they are things you are chasing that simply do not align with your core values of what you truly treasure in life, you will burn out.
I was running what I thought was my race and I was going after all that I thought success was. But the crazy thing was, the closer I got to these things, the more drained I became.
So I went to the doctor. I contributed the burn out to some "low" measure of something in my body. Medicine was prescribed and I was ensured I would be back to my old self in no time. But the days continued. Sluggish, no drive, no ambition. I would try to get back to the grind, but the chasing of a pay check just continued to wreak havoc on my already worn out mind and heart.
This went on for about six months. Dead end after dead in. I prayed, I journaled, I complained, but nothing helped. Sensing this was becoming more of an internal struggle rather than a medical issue, a friend directed me to some wise counsel. I explained to him what was going on: the constant unrest, the overwhelming feeling of heaviness, the emptiness of achievement.
After patiently listening to what I had to say, in short, this was his response to me: You have a conflict within your core. You say you want certain things...you say you have a definition of success, but everything within you is telling you this is the wrong definition. You are chasing after the wrong things. There is a major misalignment going on between your heart's values and the way you are living your life.
But the problem was, I didn't want to hear what he had to say. The world had told me these were the things you were suppose to go after. They were in effect, "sure things." I had approached them as guarantees. But for me, they had become a trap. A mirage consisting of a list of achievements that promised a good life yet only led to perpetual emptiness.
Given I had tried just about every other option, I knew it was time for some professional help. So I started seeing a counselor. He was someone who specialized in helping people work through spiritual strongholds. The old me would have been completely skeptical of this approach, but I was tired and willing to try something different.
And then that dear man who told me my core was out of alignment became my business coach.
And this is when things started to change. Slowly but surely and with the help of these two individuals and many others, I started to ask the questions: If success is not money, material, and recognition, then what is it? And why I am I running so hard after something that does not fill me up?
It took some hard processing and what felt like a mini life breakdown. But as the days rolled on, I could feel a sense of hope that had not been present before. In a sense, these individuals were safe spaces where I could process life's darkest "basement" moments and thought patterns. The ones that had been suppressed and internalized and were ultimately the driving force for this chasing lifestyle I had developed.
And so I laid the armor I had worn for so long down. I simply could not carry its weight any longer. And I couldn't keep continuing to run. I came out from behind the walls I had constructed and knew that whatever exposure I may risk, the Lord would be guiding me on this off roading adventure.
It has been almost 7 months since this new way of life started. To be honest, it has been excruciatingly painful at times. Because the truth is when you take off that armor you have been wearing, the pain of a blow can knock the life right out of you.
But it was and is so worth the exposure.
I have been calling 2016 the year of recalibration. It has been one of immense pruning and rewiring.
While I have miles to go on this journey, in summary, these are the biggest take aways for those of you who may relate to this post:
Know your framework. Practically speaking, know how you are wired. Take behavioral assessments. For me, the Myers Briggs test has been a critical tool for growth and understanding. It has been a benefit in more ways than I can count and is great for understanding both who you are and who the people around you are.
Get around people who embrace your framework. There are a million ways to make a buck. Go after something that is true to who you are. Don't be afraid if this path looks drastically different from those around you.
Own and embrace your framework. Don't be ashamed. Don't try to be someone you quite frankly were never meant to be.
Know what success looks like for you in this season. It will change and is likely to be an evolving definition. But make sure it is clear in your mind. The noise of the world is so loud on this topic...it is far too easy to get distracted with things that simply are not for you.
Work on your best "yes." Lysa Terkeurst wrote a great book (The Best Yes) on how to make choices that are "best" and not "good" in the midst of life's endless demands. There is no end to the amount of "good" things out there. Seek the best and have the confidence to say a bold "no" to even the good things.