Guess which one of these women I can relate to?
A) The woman who learned to speed write and complete a novel in 10 months while raising twins.
B) A single mom I worked with who told me one morning in the coffee room that because she was wearing a bra, clean clothes and shoes that matched, she considered herself the winner of the day!
The answer is B.
It's not that I've never accomplished a goal. I have. But in the long run, I have many more days like my former colleague than I do the Wonder Woman in the Example A. And that's OK. For Wonder Woman, she set a goal and accomplished it. My colleague did the same. They are both winners, but their definitions of the word "winning" vary greatly.
I'm happy for Wonder Woman, but I will never be her. Her goal won't work for me, just like my goal of finding the best burger in town probably won't work for her (this is really a goal of mine). We have different strengths and weaknesses. I couldn't have written a book in 10 months when my (twin-free) household included two small children. But I finished graduate school while pregnant with my oldest. I also know I couldn't have done it after having a baby like my friend Michelle did. We each determined our own best path.
There are many ways to fail, and trust me, I've tried a lot of them. By making our goals too difficult, we set ourselves up for failure. By comparing ourselves to others, we fail, and by letting others dictate the parameters of our success, we fail.
But there are also many ways to succeed. For me, it was listening to that inner voice that told me what I was doing right. We each get to set the bar as high or low as necessary, and define the goal. We can even change our goals when they no longer work for us.
Knowing yourself is the key, because success comes from within. For some of us, it's speed-writing a book in 10 months. And for others, it's just getting out of bed each day and heading off to work wearing a bra, clean clothes and matching shoes. So define your own success, and go for it!
Mary Horner's story Shirley and the Apricot Tree was recently published in Kansas City Voices. She has written for numerous publications and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges, and earned the Writing Certificate from UM-St. Louis.