16 September 2013

Success: It's a Personal Thing

If you follow my other blog, the Journey of the Pudgy Pomegranate, you may have read my post last week about success.  Today I wanted to kind of continue on that subject. Success.  I've been thinking about it a lot because two weeks ago my wWeightWatchers leader asked me to speak about it to those that attend my Wednesday meeting because we're beginning a new set of discussions on it.   So each leader was supposed to ask two members to speak, and my leader asked me.  I questioned this.  Surely she had me confused with someone else because I have not been successful at all.  Seriously.  I've been attending meetings since February, and have only lost 15 pounds, so why me?   I have been plateauing for 4 months...maybe even 5 now!  Sandy assured me that she hadn't made a mistake.  She told me that I was successful because I keep trying.  I keep coming back.   Great.  So she handed me a sheet with 4 questions on it and asked me to present the answers at the next Wednesday's meeting.  Well that was the week before the Avon Walk.

So I thought about it.   I mean I did the Avon Walk.  I set out to walk 39.3 miles in 2 days and I did it.  So that was a success.  I thought about the fact that I was walking with my brother, and my sister-in-law by my side...and my daughter, sister and my husband were working on crew.  My younger brother was texting me while I was walking for updates.  And I thought about how blessed I am to have a close relationship with my family.  Was that a success?  For me, yes, although I think success usually is goal related, and has a positive outcome or objective met, right?  I thought of my past history with breast and colon cancer.  My objective was to fight it...and I did.  I was walking and I am healthy. So I am successful when it comes to that.  So all was good.  I mean, I just thought about it.  A lot. What is success?  What makes us successful?  Do you always have to reach your objective to be a success? This type of thing. 

So last Wednesday, I went to my WW meeting with my questions in hand.  But at weigh in, after walking over 40 miles that weekend, I got to my weigh in to find my weight up 1.8 pounds.  Really???  I mean after walking over 40 miles this past weekend.  After all the training.  And then to add salt to the wound, my friend who started the same week as I did back in February, hit her 40 pounds lost...and I just felt so low and defeated.  All this negative speak was going on in my head.  How come I can't have that success? Seriously. There was no way I was feeling successful.  And the thing is, that I work so hard at it. Tracking my intake, drinking my water, staying active, eating healthy when my highly successful friend doesn't do any activity and manages to consistently have the scale heading lower and lower every week.   So I'm sitting there all disappointed, and trying to hold it together and be happy for my friend.  But inside, i'm just feeling really sad.  

And then our leader gets up and introduces the next topic and invites me to come up and speak.  So I start off telling everyone a little bit about how I felt prior to joining.  This part was fine.  I told them I used to weigh much more that I do now...but I had also weighed less than I do now as well.  And the whole thing about the empty nest when Ani got married, emotional eating and how I needed to get things back into balance and control so I re-joined.   Okay this was all fine.  

But the next question was, "What helped you believe that you could succeed?"  That was a tough one because really, the way things were going, I don't really know if I can succeed.  I mean, I'm doing all that's humanly possible.  So I explained that believing in success is one thing.  And believing in fighting for what you want is another.  I told them about how I was a survivor...and how I had just walked this amazing 39.3 mile walk.  And then....I went there...to the dark place.  I told them that despite all my efforts the scale was not moving. I told them about the plateau.  I told the how frustrated I was...and then, I got all choked up.  Tears were coming out.  I felt totally stupid.  My nose was running.  I told them how it was so difficult to sit here week after week and listen to their successes.  By this time, I can't make eye contact.  I'm standing up there, looking at my little paper and reading from it.  I told them that I had no idea why Sandy had chosen me to speak about success.  That I wasn't a success.  Blah blah blah.  I mean, it was difficult.  At this point, I look up at the people in my meeting, and guess what they did?  Half of them were standing up....to support me.  One lady yelled out..."You are a success! What about the 60 pounds that you're successfully keeping off? What about fighting cancer?" I was genuinely touched by their support.  Sandy went and brought me a tissue and threw an arm over my shoulder.

It's true, yes.  But those aren't the successes that I was focusing on at the moment.  Flash forward to this afternoon, because I kept thinking about it.  We were at dinner at my daughter and son-in-law's home, and I asked them what they felt was the meaning of success.  Ned (my husband)'s answer was "You set a goal. You achieve it.  That's success. Plain and simple." Boo.  I didn't like that one.   

My son-in-law had a different take on success.  He said, "There are two types of success. You set a goal and have the outcome according to how you planned it.  That's one type of success.  Or you set a goal, have a plan, work on achieving the plan but you may not be able to meet the objective HOWEVER, if you've learned something along the way, then you're successful."  I liked that one better.

And Ani's response, "You have a goal and a plan.  You work toward the goal.  You're a success if you continue to grow and keep trying.  Goals change.  You have to learn and keep going.  Once you stop learning, you stop growing.  Once you stop growing, you stop caring."  How true is that?  Right?

So I came home and looked up meanings of success: Dictionary.com stated success as "The achievement of something desired, planned or attempted."  Another site said, "The accomplishment of one's goals.  The attainment of wealth, position, honors or the like."  

The thing is that our successes are individualized and personal.  I may achieve exactly the same thing as someone else yet not feel as successful as the other.  Or vice versa.  It made me remember high school geometry (worst subject EVER!!!) I'd feel successful if I could just pass the test.  Yet, if my friend didn't get an A on her test, she felt like a failure. 

So going back to my meeting, I added, there are other successes.  Like perseverence, and trying. And I guess for me,  that's what I will need to measure my successes by.   I'm like the Little Engine That Could.  I keep saying, "I think I can, I think I can."  It's not easy.  I have a lot of stresses in my life.  Dealing with cancer, follow ups and check ups, family, taking care of my mom, running a homeless outreach, trying to build my own business, holding down a full time job. There are things that I can control, and things that I have no control over.  I can do my best to stay on plan (which I do).  I can track my intake (which I do).  I can do everything I'm supposed to, and one of the most important things that we all have to do is to be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for our actions (which I do pretty well  most of the time).  So if we're doing all these things and the outcome is still not as planned, then what?

Well, I think we have to not necessarily change the goal as much as we need to re-assess. What have I learned along the way on this journey?  Discipline.  Control.  Perseverence. Patience.  And then were there positive outcomes other than the scale that I achieved? Well, yeah.  Being healthy, maintaining weight loss, getting a grip on emotional eating.  So I guess it's about seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty.

Finally, I noted a couple quotes on success that I wanted to share with you all:
Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final; failure is not fatal.  It's the courage to continue that counts."

How about this one:  Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value."  Albert Einstein

And here's a great one:  "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome."  Booker T. Washington.

I am on this journey.  The goal is to be healthy.  I know what I need to do.  All I can do is do the best that I can do.  Honestly.  If I am doing my best, taking responsibility for my actions, and learning along the way,  then I can call that a success.  My  body has its own personal agenda.  As much as I wish I could measure my success by the scale, my success has to have a different measure.  It has to be measured in knowing that I am eating right, that I am well for now, that I am being honest, accountable and doing the best that I can on the road to being healthy.

And finally one last thought from Dale Carnegie:  Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.

How do you measured success?  I'd love to hear from you.  Leave your comments here! And have a fantastic and successful week!  Let's all try to focus on our successes, however they may be measured.  

1 comment:

Ani Kohar said...

Just this blog post is proof that you're analyzing the past and moving forward. You're growing as a person and that's the important part. I love those quotes you found... great motivation. You should write them on a sticky note and post them up on your desk or on your mirror in the bathroom just to remember them! :) Love you - xox