Measuring Success & Being Grateful

Last week I was invited back to my University to give a talk on blogging and social media, which I wrote about here. Quite apart from the usual nerves and the unusual emotions of being back there, it started me thinking about success or more-so how one might quantify it. On the way I texted my best friend, who I’d met at Uni, to tell her where I was. “Ahhh how exciting,” she replied “How long since we left, 6 years? How the hell did we both end up all successful and stuff?” and so I started writing this article in my head…

How do you quantify success? Is it money in the bank? Is it making a difference? Is it being perceived to be a someone by others? I personally feel that it’s not one thing that makes any of us feel successful, it’s a combination of many elements. As always I’d love to read your opinions and ideas in the comments please.

Being excited about work

And I’m not just talking generally here. Everyday I wake up dying to get up, log on to my computer and get to work. Even on the tough days I still love what I do. Running your own business is hard but oh boy is it worth it. How do you feel every morning? Are you looking forward to what your day might hold or are you dreading it? If the latter, what small changes could you make to your day to day tasks in order to feel better about it?

Feeling like you’re helping others

It’s not all roses and sunshine in my line of work, but it’s amazing that I do get almost daily reminders about how my blog helps brides struggling with their wedding planning. Making enough money to support my family, whilst also doing something I love is one thing, but doing a job where I’m able to help others outweighs that entirely.

If I stopped being able to help people I would have a very different feeling about my work. Even the tough weeks and tight deadlines all pale into insignificance when I get a gushing email from a bride or newlywed saying something I’ve written or stood for has helped them.

Money

Obviously I’m not some kind of martyr (far from it!) but who wouldn’t feel incredibly blessed to be making a decent salary from doing a job that they love? Of course it’s not the be-all-and-end-all and I’ve always said I’d rather be poor and happy than in a high earning career that I hated, but being able to indulge in the odd extravagance, whilst similarly earning enough to live off is a very satisfying feeling indeed! Travel too is something I never really put a lot of emphasis on, however recently I’ve realised that being able to travel for work is freakin’ awesome. How lucky am I to be swanning over to NYC in a week for example? Er…very!

A happy home and a good work/life balance

Gareth & I have a very chaotic and busy but an incredibly happy home. Sometimes it’s like a roller-coaster and others its more like a placid lake, no two days are the same but that suits us perfectly. Being able to do something that enables us to live the kind of lifestyle that we thrive in is awesome. The fact that we get to spend so much time together and do something we both love at the same time is truly incredible. How is your work/life balance and how does running your own business improve your home life? Be sure to make note of the things that you know you wouldn’t be able to do if you weren’t in the line of work that you are… it can be simple things like picking your kids up from school everyday or the unadulterated joy of not having commute on a rush hour train! Knowing I don’t have to put a suit on and stand on a packed train for 2 hours a day makes me feel pretty damn lucky I have to say!

Having time for yourself

The great thing about running your own business is that it’s yours to do with as you please. Sure, you have to think about things like costs and overheads and tax blah blah blah but ultimately the world is your oyster! I’ve never been one to conform and being able to do things my way, without having to answer to a ‘boss’ is the best. thing. ever. Being able to follow your own path and thrive is a surefire way to feel successful.

Learning

No one has all the answers, not even me (I know, shock! horror! haha) but I actually never want to either. Sitting back and thinking ‘you’ve made it’ is not a way to measure success it’s a way to ensure (future) failure. Being in a career where I can constantly learn, progress and evolve is awesome. Resting on your laurels is never a good thing and jeez wouldn’t it get very very boring? All of you are in the same boat so I hope you’re all feeling pretty smug about that right now! Get out there and keep pushing yourself to improve. What skills have you wanted to sharpen? What goals have you been striving for? If you get nothing else from this article let it be this – always keep learning and always push yourself to improve!

Making a difference

I didn’t set up Rock n Roll Bride with the motive to make it a full time career. All I knew is that, as a bride, I didn’t like the limited choices I felt I was offered when planning my wedding. I was sure there must have been alternatives if only I could have found them. Looking back though, in sharing my distaste about what I saw as a very outdated industry, whilst simultaneously offering an alternative view, I was really able to use my blog as a platform to bring other like-minded brides (and later suppliers) together. In a small way I do feel that I have helped push the UK wedding industry in a much more positive and open direction.

In actual fact I remember saying to a friend (who was also in the industry) back in 2008, “Imagine if one day being ‘alternative’ or wanting to do your wedding your way, not the way the magazines told you to do it, was the norm?” Well look at the UK wedding industry now! Of course there are still many traditionalists, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, it’s the quirky and different suppliers who are totally ruling the roost.

Feathers may have been ruffled along the way but you know what, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs (insert other cheesy metaphors here). I’m not for one second saying I’m wholly responsible for the way the industry operates today (although unbelievably some people who aren’t big fans of my work do seem to credit me to being ‘the problem’ and ‘the reason the industry is in the state it is today’ haha!) but I do know, deep down, that I have made a difference, and for that reason I feel incredibly successful.

There are still things about the industry that irk me, I’m sure there always will be, however if something I do makes a difference to how just one bride feels about her wedding or if one of my tidbits of business advice encourages one wedding supplier to make positive changes then its totally all been worth it.

Sometimes it’s incredibly easy to focus on how difficult running your own business is. However today I’d encourage you to look at the positives and the doors that have been opened to you and your family because of all the hard work you’ve put in. You’re awesome, do you know that? So come on, I want to read some positive life-affirming stuff in the comments today. What are you feeling successful about?

All Photography Credit: Tinywater Photography (taken while in LA last August)

26 comments

  1. you are definitely making a huge difference to me personally. i am in the throws of planning my wedding now, and having been a rock n roll bride reader LONG before actually getting a husband to be, i am not hesitating in making our big day OURS and every time i get a bit of slack for being too weird or out there, i think of you kat, and how awesome you are at being yourself, and how every bride on this blog is the same.

    rock on ladies!

  2. Great article! I think the pride you get from building up a business all by yourself from scratch, even if that means you may have made less than your employed friends, is totally worth it. I really value having time, plus the luxury of an afternoon nap on a tired Monday!

  3. Well, very timely. Today I’m feeling grateful for starting something for fun, falling in love with it and getting to do it full time. Feel like I’m living a dizzying version of one of my wildest dreams. My biggest ambition in life was to be a writer and I get to do that on my own terms and for a magazine, which is a serious lifetime ambition I never dreamed would actually come true.

    I don’t have to drag myself into an office and deal with office politics, I can choose my hours, I can choose who I see or don’t see. I’m really grateful for the massive boost in confidence since I started my blog. I’ve never felt so happy with my life or with myself, and even though I have the odd wobble, my life has totally transformed. I’m so grateful to have a partner who supports me in every imaginable way and is my biggest fan and vice versa. It’s not a bad life living with someone who will always be your own personal cheerleader.

    Very grateful for the speed at which my business is growing, even if it feels like sometimes I’m panting along after it, trying to keep up.

    It’s so easy to focus on the negatives, the long hours, the stress and strain of putting your heart and soul into something, but hey, for the first time in my life I’m seriously living – I’m just making the most of every second while it lasts because this is one amazing journey!!!

    Anyway thanks for prompting the affirmations, I definitely need to stop and be proud of myself more often, I am always the first one to play things down or to stomp on my own excitement and success!

    As for what success means? I think as long as you feel like you’re doing what you love in a credible and honest way, you’re successful! xxx

  4. Hi Kat

    I’ve been following your blog for some time now and haven’t commented before…but felt compelled to today as your writing really resonated with me.

    I too look forward to getting up every morning and love writing my flower-inspired blog…it really doesn’t feel like work.

    Admittedly, it’s very early days and I’m looking forward to things improving financially…but I’m determined to keep writing and providing people with a place to escape to when they’d like a little inspiration.

    It’s wonderful to have such aspirational people as yourself championing the blogging world.

    Thank you for a brilliant blog post…

  5. Spot on Kat. Sometimes it’s tough being your own boss but waking up every morning looking forward to what the day holds just can’t be beat!
    I get to spend more time than most with my little girl, get to work in my PJ’s (not every day!) and watch Desperate Housewives/Grey’s Anatomy/ Coronation Street (I know, I know…) in my lunch hour.
    Best of all, I get to make people happy with pretty pictures x

  6. I totally love this post – it’s cheered me up so much this morning and given me a well timed reminder of all the reasons why actually I’m pretty fortunate to be able to live the way I do.

    I’m a history blogger and self publish my own novels, both of which enterprises have recently blossomed to the extent that I’m now making an actual living wage from my book sales. In fact, I’m just about to sell my 10,000th book!

    I feel so blessed that I don’t have to work for anyone other than myself and am just about to celebrate that fact by teaming the pink hair and goth look that I’ve clung on to since graduating many many years ago with some piercings and tattoos that I’ve always wanted IN VISIBLE PLACES. I celebrate every day as it is when I do the school runs myself and never have to go and pick parcels up from the depot because I’m at home all day writing. Hurray! ;)

    Even though I write a history blog, which is rather different from a wedding blog (I have romance going on but everyone’s dead, alas), I would have to say that your blog and that of Gala Darling are the most inspiring around and although I wouldn’t slavishly copy anyone, I often think ‘What would Rock n Roll Bride do?’ and then post Mighty Boosh videos in the middle of otherwise serious posts about Jack the Ripper… ;)

    Anyway, thank you! xxx

  7. I’m a musician in the process of making a huge step and committing to a whole new career. I found this blog when I was preparing for my own wedding in 2010 – it ended up not happening, but this was the only wedding fix I couldn’t give up! I spend most of my weekends at other people’s weddings, and actually I really enjoy (most of) them.

    I’ve struggled to work out what sort of music I want to do, who I want to be as well as who I really am, where I want to go and and what I want to say . The Green Room is really helping me explore all these, and is a great source of inspiration both in terms of good advice, sharing of experiences and seeing people who are making it work as you mention in the above piece. I’m loving the journey, and at the moment I’m in that wonderful place where fantastic, big ideas are popping into my head constantly.

    Success is such a tricky one but I think you have listed off all the important indicators of it. Fab post!

    thanks x

  8. Post author

    Thanks for all your ace comments! Yey for positivity and feeling the loooove. You guys really are the absolute best. Group hug?

  9. Yet another fab green room post Kat. For me, especially recently having my work noticed and appreciated by industry peers has made me feel successful. One year on from starting my business I never thought I’d be featured on one of my favourite blogs! Everyone likes a pat on the back from time to time and acceptance of a submission definitely feels like that. The next bit for me to master for success is the work/life balance- I’m exhausted right now! Moving to running the business full time will feel like a huge success and the realisation of a dream.

  10. Awesome post, Kat! LOVE it!

    For me, I feel successful in that I quit an awful job last October…a very soul-destroying type of job. When I quit, my plan was to just find another job and one that was hopefully less stressful and tear-inducing while learning more about photography and to possibly turn my dreams of having my own business into a reality. And while I lean on my husband for emotional and financial support (he’s the best!) and still haven’t found that job, I have learned a lot about photography AND myself. I’m in better health and better spirits. I’m still working on the business dream, and people keep pushing too with their opinions…of course! I am determined to do it my own way, on my own terms, and in my own time though.

    Btw, LOVE the close-up image of you. You’re beautiful and an inspiration. Can I jump in on the group hug!?

  11. Great post and a great time for me to read it, seeing how I’ll soon be back at the sharp end of my own business after mat leave! You’re right, it’s easy to get dragged into the downers about self employment – you never leave it behind like you can when you work for someone else. But, when you look back and think about how much you have achieved – for YOURSELF, no-one else – it’s an awesome moment, as well as an inspiration to drive yourself forward and achieve new and better heights.

    Well done Rock N Roll Bride for coming so far, (so far!) and a tiny little pat on the back to me for the same!

  12. Post author

    Madame Guillotine – your comment made me grin from ear to ear like a big old goon. i totally think the same ie ‘what would jasmine star do?’ ‘what would gala darling do?’ I feel a little giddy that someone might think that about ME. thank you!

  13. Post author

    Shawna – yes yes yes! group hugs all round!

    Belinda McCarthy – your comments always make me smile, thanks for being so ace!

  14. As another self-employed business owner, I’d love to say I bounce out of bed in the mornings too. However, being a burlesque photographer involves a lot of late nights and inevitably my mornings involve lying in and trying to catch up on sleep!!

    I love what I do, the people I work with and the amazing opportunities it brings to travel and meet new people. Plus on top of that, the thing I love doing most in the world (taking photos) is enough to pay my bills and allow us to indulge our dreams a little, which to me is the greatest success.

  15. warly

    haha look at me being all inspirational and stuff!

    This is a bit gooey but I’d just like to publicly state how bloody proud of you I am. You’ve come so far, in a business sense and by overcoming personal hurdles to create the rock n roll bride world you now live in. None of it has come easily and you deserve every bit of success in whatever way it comes.

    It also cracks me up how different our day to day activities are – I’ve dealt with all sorts of plonkers today!!

    Love you long time xx

  16. Post author

    aww Warly my BFF! i love you! although to be fair i have to deal with some plonkers in my line of work too…not many though thank god!

  17. A while ago I tweeted that I had asked the universe to throw me a rope, and I would climb it – and it sent me your Green Room!

    On Thursday, I am going to be at your School of Rock, and tomorrow I move out of our spare bedroom and into my own rented studio, surrounded by other creative types.

    You are an inspiration, and my work life just gets better and better each day!

  18. Aww, shucks! :)

    I meant every word! You are fabulous! And seriously, ‘What Would the Rock n Roll Bride do?’ gets me into SO much less trouble than my other mantra of ‘What Would Courtney Love do?’ ;)

  19. I needed to hear this. I’ve been feeling rather down lately; like a failure, going nowhere, etc. I need to keep steping back an seeing how far I’ve come and how much I’ve done and to remind myself of the big picture and all the little, positive things I do.

    thanks so much for posting this <3

    XO Sahra
    EffortlessCool

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