The ‘only ifs’ of life bombards many of our thoughts daily. Only if I had a better job, only if I had a better car, only if I had a better home, and finally, only if I was successful. Success, we all yearn for it and if we had it, all would be right with the world. However, what does success really mean and can everyone attain it?
Success (n) –
If you are unsure of what you think success is, reflect on what you think about most of the time. What you always imagine yourself doing. Is it owning a company? Marrying the perfect person? Having a million dollars in your bank account? Having a lovely home in a great community? It could possibly be a combination of all of these things. Admittedly, every one of these has fit into my success scheme at one point or another in my life.
During my teenage years, I fell in love with community service. This strong desire led to a consistent record of volunteerism and a degree path of Sociology at university. No one could have told me that I would not be the founder of a non-profit organization focused on some aspect of women empowerment/development. Currently, I should be ten years into my role and should have already traveled the world as a result of this organization, doing development work. I also expected to own my own home. Nothing too big (I actually am a fan of tiny homes). However, something to call my own has been important to me for a long time. In addition, like most people I have always wanted to be financially secure. Not having to worry about money. Finally, I love to travel, so an income adequate enough to allow me to travel and have a decent amount of spending money would have been lovely. My dream trip is to Nigeria. I am fascinated by the thought of traveling there and one of the principle characters in my book happens to be Nigerian. I will explain this interest in another blog.
So let’s break this down:
1- Starting An NGO:
I haven’t officially started my own organization, but over the years I have worked with various organizations. I have served in positions from secretary to board member. I have also partnered with a few organizations and have done my own independent work. My approach to my advocacy, volunteerism and development work has been that of collective work and responsibility, hence Ujima Woman. I communicate the importance of women working together via this blog, in my actions, and in my conversations. Now that I think about it, I may not have started an organization the conventional way (though over the years I have tried many times) however, I have started and committed to an ideology of how to approach non-profit work and life in general, which I share in hopes that people see the significance in working together. People who I’ve shared this with have appreciated my efforts and have even said that they have also adopted this way of thinking. Again, it may not be conventional, but Ujima Woman has influenced the many of the individuals I know within the public and private sector. One drop in the success bucket for me!
2 – Owning My Own Home:
This one is very straightforward. There is no ‘feeling like’ you own a home. You either do or you don’t. I don’t, but I still have plans to. Here’s what I learned over the years though, where to own a home is important. I am now currently at a stage in my life of deciding where, as in what country, I would like to own my home. Owning a home is great, but I want to be happy in the environment also. I am not interested in buying a home and then selling it, then buying another one. I wouldn’t mind having two separate homes though. However, getting to the stage where I am not anxious to have a home just because I want to own one, but rather thinking about where I want to buy the home, is progress for me. I call this success in my thinking.
3 – Financial Security:
Now, I don’t have millions sitting in my bank account, not even thousands. However, I can say this, I have never been in a position where I was “spending my last dollar” (at least not literally anyway). There has always been enough, even if it was just enough. Financial security, in my humble opinion, is not always based on how much money you have, but using what you have wisely. Many people make hundreds of thousands of dollars and because of their bad spending, lending, and/or investment habits they never have enough, not even just enough. It is possible to have financial security at almost any pay rate if you use your money wisely. I will discuss this in a future post. So yes, I can say that I have been financially secure because over the years I have learned to use my money wisely, though there has not been much of it. Personally, though not conventionally, I feel I have been very successful in my finances. (P.S. Don’t always wish to be rich so you won’t have any worries. Money comes with responsibility and inevitably, worry. You should desire proper money management skills if anything.)
4 – An Income Adequate Enough To Travel:
If you live in a first world country such as the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. then you have access to some great travel deals. The smallest of incomes, if budgeted correctly, can give you an opportunity to travel internationally. Again, I never had a job in which I received a large income, but I always budgeted some money to travel. While I lived in America most of my travel was between states. However, I always wanted to take bigger trips to countries like France, Italy, England, South Africa, and Nigeria. Now living back in the Caribbean I have traveled to other Caribbean islands and I have hit one of the places on my bucket list, England. Traveling from the Caribbean to England is no cheap feat, but I budgeted and saved and once in England I felt accomplished at having made the trip! Oh, and you guessed it. I definitely felt successful at this time!
I charge you to take an inventory of your life and analyze what you have accomplished with the desires you’ve had for years. It is quite possible that you have already had some level of success. Most times it is the way you look at things. Take a look at Maya’s quote above. We oftentimes have a big picture before our eyes, and we miss the small or unconventional drops of success in our success buckets. Think about it!