Chasing Success vs. Following Inspiration

success themed street sign

I’ve chased success most of my adult life.

I set big goals. I worked hard to achieve them, even to the point of burning myself out.

I’ve read books, sought out mentors, coaches, and mastermind groups, attended seminars and conferences, and dropped a boat-load of money, all in search of More.

More success. More money. More recognition. More of everything because I thought More was the path to success and happiness.

Until I realized that despite all the time and money I’ve invested in growing my business I’m still making pretty much what I was making in 2004 when I started on this path to More.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see myself as successful back in 2004, despite having a six-figure business, because there were others who were more successful and had seven-figure businesses. The message to myself was I wasn’t good enough or successful enough.

Eight years and $200,000 later (yes, ouch!) I now know that I was already successful.

While I love learning and do believe in investing in yourself, going on a wild goose chase for that one missing puzzle piece that will finally make you a success is not the way. There is no one missing puzzle piece. Someone else’s path to success isn’t necessarily yours. Buying into promises of quick riches and easy success only lead to disappointment and a shrinking bank account or growing debt.

Success takes work. It takes following your own path.

It’s not about plugging into someone else’s system and copying their success. That’s THEIR success. We all have our own path and each path looks different. I’ve learned the key is to embrace that.

Where it all started.

I always wanted to be a teacher. But in college, I made a decision not to be a teacher, and to instead study business because I thought I could make more money. My parents were both teachers and while we lived comfortably, I now see I’ve had many limiting beliefs around money that I trace back to messages I received as a child growing up in that environment. I don’t blame my parents, I’ve just recognized these beliefs and experiences have shaped my life and led to the choices I’ve made, both consciously and subconsciously.

The Money Path.

When I made that decision to study business back 1981, I stepped onto the money path, and I’ve been on it ever since. Yes, I’ve made choices along the way to follow my heart and find work I find fulfilling, but I now recognize all those choices were made ON the money path.

I never felt bad about it. I mean, isn’t that what we’ve all been raised to do? Go to school, get a job, make money, make more money, and keep up with the Jones’?

Until I realized that just because you achieve more, make more, have more, doesn’t make the quest for More stop. It’s a never-ending journey. You never get THERE. There’s always More to strive for.

The Fork in the Road.

In 2007, I hit a crossroads. After four years of chasing more, I found myself running five businesses and lost in the shuffle of it all. I had no focus. I was running in too many different directions. I was frustrated that most of my business ideas weren’t “hitting it big” (the way I thought they should be) especially since I had done all I’d been taught to do. I started doubting myself. I didn’t know what to do.

That’s when my husband reminded me of all we had learned about the Law of Attraction, spirituality, and the power of the Universe. He helped me see it was time for this life-long control freak (yes, me!) to let go of trying to figure it all out and make it happen. He helped me see what I really needed to do was get out of my own way, stop trying so hard, and be open to inspired ideas and what was next on my journey. As hard as it was for me, I made a decision that day back in April 2007 to let go. Mostly out of desperation because quite frankly, trying so hard to make it happen wasn’t working, and I didn’t know what else to do!

When I let go, something amazing happened.

When I got out of the driver’s seat and just listened for inspired ideas, they started showing up immediately…within 24 hours. And, they kept showing up. I started following them and over the next few years they led me to close or sell all of my businesses except one. (I talk about this in much more detail in my Get Clear! Program where I share how to find and follow your inspired path).

I’ve continued on that journey ever since. And while I’ve definitely gotten side-tracked more than a few times (hey, I’m human!) I’ve learned the money path and chasing More is not the way, at least for me.

The Following Inspiration Experiment.

In December 2009, I started an experiment. I decided to fully commit to following inspiration without concern for money, ego, pride, and all the other things that have driven me for years on my quest for success. As a business mentor and planner, this was a huge leap for me, but one I felt was truly necessary at this point in my life and career. While I’ve been following inspiration for four years, it became clear to me that I still had one foot firmly planted on the money path. It was time to step off it completely and see what happened. To be totally driven by inspiration. To see where THAT leads me (initial results are very promising by the way!)

Changing the Conversation.

For quite some time I’ve felt a strong sense that I have a big message to share and now I believe this is it: My mission is to change the conversation around success…about what it takes to be successful, about what it means to be successful, and about how we define success.

I see so many people like me, caught up chasing what they’ve been conditioned to chase (money, success, prestige, accomplishments).  This “proving” mentality is crazy.  We don’t have to prove we’re better or more successful than anyone else. We are who we are. We’re all individuals. We all have our own path and mission in life. And when we can step out of the competitive arena, and stop succumbing to the messages that surround us that perpetuate the More myth, that is where we find true happiness, success, and wealth in the truest sense of the word.

30 Years Training for This.
Some would say everything I’ve been through was necessary to bring me to where I am today. I had an epiphany on my run the other day about this. I believe that back in 1981 when I made that decision to step onto the money path, when what I really wanted was to be was a teacher, that it was part of the grand design. If I had become a teacher back then, I would have ended up teaching in a traditional school, and probably teaching children. Instead, the Universe (or Spirit or God or whatever you choose to call it) orchestrated a 30-year journey for me to learn what it was I’m really here to teach. After 30 years of education, experience, and investment of time, money, heart and soul, I am now prepared to teach. And that is what I intend to do on this blog. I invite you to join me.

Please Share your Thoughts.

I really don’t want this to be a one-way conversation. I invite you to share your comments on anything you read here, whether you agree or disagree with me. Share your experiences of following inspiration. And, let’s start a conversation.

About Debbie

Debbie is an author, blogger, online teacher, business owner, and mid-lifer. She's writes on a wide range of topics, from marketing, money and success, to finding meaning at midlife. If it's on her mind, you'll find her writing about it!

1 comment on “Chasing Success vs. Following Inspiration

  1. Debbie – I need a ‘like’ button! :) Thanks for sharing your story – I can relate to it in so many ways and it’s validating on many levels. You are so courageous to step out in this way and lead people back to finding their own ideas of success. Thank you for following your inspiration! Can’t wait to read more…

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