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.
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.
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)