I care less about money than I ever have before. But accolades get me every time.
Last spring was one of the most successful seasons of my life—at least in worldly terms. I released a book, Clutterfree with Kids, that spent two weeks as the #1 Parenting book in America. On the exact same day, our Facebook page passed 100,000 fans (now at almost 250,000). And, with over 1 million visitors each month, Becoming Minimalist was reaching more and more people with the life-giving benefits of owning less.
I felt like I was on top of the world. It was an amazing season. And I enjoyed it for almost an entire two weeks.
You see, later that spring, during an evening session of answering email at my dining room table, I began to notice some interesting chatter on social media. A friend of mine had been featured on a popular news website. Immediately, it seemed, everybody was talking about her, heaping praise on her accomplishment.
I should have been happy for her. But I wasn’t. Instead, I was jealous. I wanted that level of exposure.
And in a heartbeat, everything changed.
Later that same week, I noticed another author’s Facebook page was growing faster than mine. And then a different blogger’s post was going viral. To make it worse, my book was no longer on top of any bestsellers list. In fact, there were several parenting books selling better than mine. I began to regret that I didn’t title my book, The 5 Love Languages to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Rather than celebrating one of the greatest seasons of my life, I had become petty and envious of the people around me. And this was not just a superficial jealousy that fades in the morning—this was a jealousy deeply rooted in my heart that I could not shake no matter what I tried.
My work and accomplishments immediately seemed less impressive.
A short while later I was listening to Anne Lamott speak at a conference in San Diego. She was speaking about writing, but she was also speaking about life (as she so brilliantly does).
During one of her answers, she made an important observation. She said, “If you are hoping to find your self-worth and fulfillment in other peoples’ opinion of your writing, you will never find it.”
Her statement caught my attention immediately. I thought back over the last several weeks and suddenly realized that is exactly what I had done. I had based my self-worth and happiness on the number of accolades I received from others. And as they began to turn elsewhere, so did my opinion of the life I was trying to live.
Finding our self-worth in the approval and accolades from others is always a foolish pursuit.
It negatively impacts the decisions we make and the life we choose to live. But they never fully satisfy our hearts or our souls. Even those who have reached the pinnacle of fame and prestige in our society long for more. As Eric Hoffer once wrote, “You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.”
The life you live is the life you live regardless if anybody notices or not. (tweet that)
Our goal is not to secure accolades. They are empty and fleeting. Our goal is to live the one life we’ve been given to its greatest potential—whether anybody praises you for it or not.