“Be happy with who you are and what you do, and you can do anything you want.” —Steve Maraboli
Looking back over the past few years, my life has been a crazy ride and something I never imagined. I started this website as a simple online journal, but today:
—Becoming Minimalist welcomes almost 1,000,000 visitors each month totaling 2,000,000 page views.
—Our Facebook page recently exceeded 500,000 followers.
—I’ve written three bestselling books (Simplify, Clutterfree with Kids, and The More of Less)—ranking as high as the #1 Self-Help book on Amazon and appearing on every major best-sellers list in the country except for the NYT.
—My wife and I started a nonprofit organization to change orphan care around the world. To date, The Hope Effect has raised over $250,000 for orphan care projects.
—And I’ve been privileged to speak internationally at various venues inviting others to find more life by owning less.
I include that list above for one reason: by almost every available measure, you could say it’s been a pretty successful past few years.
But here’s what’s weird. I don’t actually feel all that successful.
In fact, some days, I feel like I don’t even know what I’m doing. Other days, I’m evaluating my life wondering what I’m doing wrong, why things aren’t going even better, and wishing I was better at any number of different skills.
I look at other people and wonder why my growth hasn’t equaled theirs. I look at the long list of things I wish I could accomplish and wonder why I haven’t. Some days feel productive… but other days, I wonder if I’m too undisciplined or too undeveloped in the skills I need to move forward.
While things appear to be successful from the outside, I am often filled with doubt that they actually are.
But I’m starting to wonder, if maybe, this is just what success feels like.
I was texting with a friend one time—someone who probably looks up to me in both age and career. He kindly asked how things were going. My response went something like this, “Some days I feel productive. Other days, I feel distracted and undisciplined. As a result, I can never quite tell if I’m moving forward effectively or too inefficient to do so.”
And I’m starting to wonder, if maybe, I’m not alone. If so, maybe this is just what success feels like.
Maybe success feels more like challenge, than accomplishment. I look at people who make success look effortless. And to be honest, there are times when my work seems to flow naturally—entirely unforced. But most of the time, it doesn’t. Most of the time it is hard and calls me to question my skills and talents—always wishing I had more or different.
Maybe success feels more like discontent, than completion. Maybe success never feels like a finish line, or a goal that is ultimately crossed off a list. Maybe success, regardless of past accomplishments, always looks like it is off in the horizon on the other side of the next hill.
Maybe success feels more like giving thanks, than being thanked. I get emails of appreciation every day from readers. They are lovely and I find great encouragement in them. But I often feel their gratitude is misplaced as I consider all the men and women who built into my life to make all of this possible: parents, friends, my family, and fellow bloggers. They are the successful ones worthy of my gratitude.
Maybe success doesn’t always feel like it looks from the outside. (tweet that)
Take heart in this truth, regardless of your pursuit in life. Whether you are trying to be a successful writer, a successful farmer, a successful school teacher, or a successful mom, maybe success doesn’t always feel like success.
Maybe success just feels like this. And if so, maybe you are far more effective in your role than you ever imagined.