The price of success
I’m worried this could turn into a post full of complaints about how awful it is when things go well, or how stressful it might be if I was really successful. That’s going to make me sound like an idiot. I would be an idiot. Let me explain a few things and hopefully you won’t just think I’m nuts…
What I mean by success
In this instance, I mean success in my job. This includes winning new projects and clients, gaining notoriety in my field, and getting books published in my own name.
I’ve recently won some new business. I’ve also been commissioned to write an ebook. Next week I have a meeting with another potential client. These are all marks of success and they’re the kind of thing I’d like to encourage. At the same time, I’ve been thinking about the price of the success I want.
Success can bring stress, just like failure
I’m aware that my situation in life is much, much better than it is for many other people. Some people can’t afford to eat. I’m stressed out because I may have a new client. There’s a world of difference but I still find myself worrying about these things.
Meeting new people and developing professional relationships
If my meeting goes well it will lead to further contact. This means worrying about how to communicate and continuing to make a good impression. This takes time and energy.
The initial meeting is always particularly worrying. I don’t have smart work wear anymore – only maternity things. I don’t like expressing myself vocally – it’s harder than writing.
Gaining notoriety means I’m more likely to get new clients and new work. See above for reasons why this stresses me.
Getting books published in my own name
This feeds into the notoriety issue. It’s my name, out there in the public domain. Anyone can see it and say “O, I know her from…”, or, “this is terrible – she should quit!”, or, “so you do this for a living but you wrote about this? Hmm.”
My mortal enemy
I hate stress. Out of all the people who’ve ever been mean to me or annoyed me, stress is still my biggest enemy. I used to worry that I worried too much. Now I just worry about doing things that I think will make me worry. Pretty stupid, right?
But despite all this whingeing, I shall be going to my meeting next week, and getting the ebook finished and published. That’s life. Being terrified doesn’t get you out of stuff – it’s not a sick note. It’s not a good enough reason to let yourself down either.
This post brings to mind something that comes up a lot in life coaching, which is the need to define success on our terms. The kind of success that stresses us out usually isn’t a balanced view of success. We need to think about success at a broader level, with the balance being fundamental to our goals.
I’m not sure I agree with your comment that “success that stresses us out isn’t a balanced view of success”. Every goal I can remember having in life came with some difficulty (and therefore some stress) but they have been extremely worthwhile attaining. This includes a lot of social achievements like making friends and falling in love.
The fact that we set ourselves goals and have aspirations automatically opens us up to stress, as there is an element of risk involved. The risk is failure. I agree that some people follow goals at great expense to other areas of their life, such as their mental health and emotional well being. This is never good, however, life without stress or goals could mean you’re just treading water and wasting your life.
I am a much happier person than I used to be and that is because I took risks. These risks caused me a lot of stress but I don’t regret taking them.
Thanks for commenting, Marie.
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