With the year - and the decade! - coming to a close, I can’t help reflecting on where I am in relation to where I’d like to be. There are so many measures of success and, as much as I try to follow my own compass, comparisons to friends and colleagues and people I follow on social media are inevitable. It’s difficult to turn off those “should be” thoughts: I should be making more money, I should be further along in my business, I should be contributing to my IRA. But I recently came across some old photos of myself and it got me thinking about a different definition of success: making my younger self proud.
When we are in a rut personally or professionally many life coaches and career counselors advise us to think about what we loved doing when we were kids. I think there’s something special about the age just before puberty when we are old enough to have opinions but not yet consumed with relationships and impressing others and mostly just interested in the things that bring us joy.
When I look at that girl with the ridiculously feathered hair I can remember having very clear opinions about what I thought was cool at that age. I admired older girls in school who dressed weird and had bold, short haircuts. I looked up to single, strong-minded career women on TV like Laura Holt from Remington Steele and Maddie Hayes from Moonlighting. I loved British new-wave music, animals, nail polish, and modern design.
It’s a fun exercise to imagine what young Carrie would think about me today. I am single and child-free. I don’t own a home and I am self-employed. Honestly, my life looks pretty different from most of my friends. When I have moments of self-doubt about what I’m doing or how successful I am, it lifts me up to think about how impressed my 11-year-old self would be with my job, my apartment, and my makeup collection.
As we are heading into 2020 let’s all try to turn off those “should be” thoughts and instead tune in to our individual definitions of success. I encourage you to let the younger version of yourself be your guide, that person who was more interested in following their own bliss than getting likes on their latest Instagram post.
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