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Deciding the Meaning of Success

With the birth of White Dahlia Design being the first step of living life consciously I had to ask myself the question "What does success look like?" and more importantly what shaped my vision of success and why do I believe it to be true?

When you're a kid, the ideas behind success are painted by your parents. Having been raised in a poor immigrant family, the vision that was painted for me was that success = wealth. Understandably so, since sometimes it takes having something like wealth to realize it doesn't provide as much happiness and contentment as you had thought.

Business School Graduation

When I left home for University, my vision of success continued to form in business school. The feeling of competition was fierce and we were all told and trained to be the next CEO of a multinational corporation. We were deeply immersed in the culture of getting to the top through competing in case competitions, landing the best co-op jobs, and comparing grades with your classmates. Without knowing it, my vision of success quickly became about ranking higher than my peers. Now I've learned that nothing kills happiness faster than comparing yourself to others.

Fast forward to graduation where we all dreamed of having a "career". In our cultural conditioning, this meant striving for one promotion after another to build up that image of success. Seven years into my "career" I was finally able to slow down for a minute to begin examining my ideas about success. I realized that with these ideals, I hadn't thought about why I want them, it was just natural to want a great career with lots of money, recognition, and status, right?

Everything so far conditioned me to believe that vision of success. Then I thought, if I was hit by a bus tomorrow and hovered over my body would I be glad I focused on my career so much, or would I say, take me back so I could do this all differently? I realized it would be the latter. My new vision of success became being gentler and kinder to myself instead of pushing for more achievements and feeling guilty if I didn't reach my goals. Putting people first instead of getting things done. I take pride that as an entrepreneur where the to-do list is never-ending I always make time for my friends, family, and my love for travel. I realize that when I'll hover over my dead body, what will make me think "okay I did it the right way, time to go now" is the fact that I took the time to consider what truly felt right to me. For me, what felt feels right is having strong relationships where my people can depend on me, feel loved, and know that they have always been my priority.

I'm not going to lie, the demands of running a business eat up a lot of my time and I have to work hard every day to remind myself not to fall back into "achievement mode". It's easy to slip into the more growth the better, the bigger the business the better, the more money the better. I have to work hard to fight against my inner narrative that entrepreneurs should be doing nothing but working on their companies. That they have to sacrifice their social and family life in order to be successful. Instead, I try to check-in and ask how are my relationships doing? Am I seeing the world still? Am I still having fun? Who am I doing this for?

Steph, a loving friend that reminds me I'm enough

I'm grateful for the friends and my loving husband that gently remind me that I am enough, that I don't need to keep pushing harder since my default mode is already to strive for more. Instead, I need to work on doing less and enjoy the process more. Just like in Forgetting Sarah Marshall when Jason Segal's character tries to learn surfing (a hobby I'm also trying to master) is told the key is to do less. So, what have you been conditioned to believe is success? where did those ideals come from ? and is it truly the story of success you want to live? - Gloria



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