I recently read an interview with an 80’s rockstar. Something she said really moved me, which I will repeat here: “I think people who are in business for the accolades rather than for passion set themselves up to fail. Because even if their careers take off and they hit it big, their worth will always be contingent upon how they’re being received. Anxiety will be constant and joy will be scarce.”
I got the chills when I read this. For a long time, I’ve been asking friends what they would still do if they knew they’d never get credit or make a dime from it. I’ve asked myself the same question over and over and it’s been majorly revelatory. So revelatory that today I do those things full-time: I am in graduate school studying art and consciousness; I help people heal and create “fuck yes” lives; I make art that I share with the world (and art that I don’t); I am constantly surrounded by and creating with the people that I love.
This fulfilling way of life did not come naturally to me. In fact, it’s been a real process of transformation to get here. I would say that, without a doubt, the most significant change in perspective I’ve ever made has been redefining and reinventing my definition of “success.”
Like so many of us who grew up in 20th century America, I was raised to believe that hard work guarantees success, and that success guarantees security – both of which are necessities if one plans to have a “good” life.
Since there was zero emphasis placed on enjoying the day-to-day or doing things just because they lit me up, I graduated from college and spent my twenties in a constant hustle to hit goals and “get somewhere,” all the while being nagged by a constant feeling that my “real life” would start in 50 yards. Once I sold the TV show, met my husband, got discovered, signed a six figure client etc.
Today I see being successful as being in love with my everyday life and feeling healthy and fulfilled. It means not being on the rollercoaster ride of life’s ups and downs but being happy and content all unto myself.
This radical shift in thinking came about 14 months ago. I had just started studying legendary scholar Joseph Campbell (he’s the guy who coined the term, “Follow your bliss”). Campbell was notorious for turning down high paying gigs, speaking opportunities and book deals. His M.O. was that he would only say yes to a job if it were also something he would agree to do unpaid: “I just can’t do it if I don’t love it.”
Last year, when I lost a bunch of cash in a business venture I hadn’t been particularly enjoying, I thought: “If I’m gunna live a life with so much risk involved, I should probably be doing it for something that I’m fucking stoked on.” As an experiment, I decided to try Campbell’s M.O on for size.
I told my friends and family that I was adopting a new GPS system for navigating life: I would only be saying yes to things based on how I thought they would make me feel, as opposed to what I thought they would get me.
I definitely got a lot of eye-rolls… Until the experiment started yielding some remarkable results.
In the first week of my new practice, I noticed I was having way more fun than usual. I felt light and inspired in the mornings when I had previously felt heavy and lethargic. Within one month it became apparent that I was also more stable and emotionally-rooted: when challenges arose, I dealt with them swiftly and moved on without the usual emotional tumult or resistance. The nearly-constant pain in my upper back disappeared.
Two months into my little experiment, I felt that I had learned to prioritize my intuition above my mind chatter, to focus my attention more on how I felt than on external rewards.
I would be horribly misleading you if I didn’t admit that there was absolutely an adjustment period that accompanied this transition. I had to turn down enticing gigs; I had to say no to going to birthday parties I would have previously felt obligated to attend. I was awkward; It was awkward. Thank God my new GPS yielded quick and undeniable benefits that kept me motivated.
My take-away from this life-research is that, when we realize that it’s the journey that determines the quality of our life experience – rather than those few-and-far-between moments of hitting our goals – an incredible evolution begins. We start prioritizing the day-to-day over the destination. We start taking better care of ourselves and become present. Joy becomes a priority rather than a luxury; we notice moments of discontent rather than letting them to be the background soundtrack to our reality.
I have learned that there is no quicker means of getting what I want in life than letting go of how my mind thinks it ought to look, while staying committed to how my heart wants it to feel. To me, this is the cornerstone of manifestation. And mark my words: I will never go back to the other way of living again.
Here’s a super relevant piece of data I think ties it all together:
When researchers interview people on their deathbeds, they report that almost nobody talks about how much money they made. Dying people talk about the extent to which they lived and loved and felt alive. In fact, findings have shown that people in hospice care say they wish they had actually worked less, and spent more time with the people they cared about and explored their hobbies and passions more. Learn more here.
I leave you now with a simple question:
If you were to fast-forward 50, 60, 70 years from today… Would the old you look back on the life you lived with a sense of deep satisfaction? Would he or she smile knowing they had given it their all? Or would they feel a sense of regret and remorse knowing they had followed a prescription for life that never provided them with the fulfillment that they truly yearned for?
Please allow your answer to dictate what changes you do or do not need to make for yourself…
Life is just too precious.