The word “success” is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” It is a moving target for many and has diverse meanings during various stages of our lives. Success can be measured at the end of a day, the end of a year, or the end of your life.
As a high school student, success may be tied to achievements—peer acceptance, excelling in a sport, getting elected to an office, making good grades or simply attaining a high school diploma that results in college or a job.
For many workers and career enthusiasts, climbing the professional ladder and making valuable contributions in the workplace are their ideas of success. Money, homes, travel, and possessions often fit into the success dream. This drive to achieve may be transferred to various jobs and careers throughout a lifetime, and even extend into retirement.
The interpretation of success can be generational. The young people entering the workforce today differ from the Baby Boomer and Generation X workers. According to a blog by Lindsey Pollak, “Millennial women want to try it all. Rather than feeling compelled to follow a predetermined life path (education, career, marriage, motherhood) … they want to sample from the web of life.” According to her research, 87 percent of Millennial women worldwide define success as being able to shape their own futures.
It’s apparent that success has many different aspects and components. It is important to respect each person’s journey. What we view as success when we are in our mid-20s usually has a different perspective in our 40s, 50s and beyond. It is not unusual to redefine our goals and achievements as we journey through our life.
In our own community, women define success professionally and personally. For some women (and men), a large sense of their success perception is tied to the success of others. Holly McLaughlin, a PTC mother of two teenage girls, notes that being a stay-at-home mom has brought a good balance to their family. “At this time in my life, my definition of success is having my husband, my daughters and myself (and our dog) emotionally, physically and spiritually fulfilled and content.”
Holly continues, “I take my job seriously and I am always trying to balance everything so we can have a successful family life.” She believes that others may view success differently. “I feel that the desire to do more, have more, be busier and keep up with the newest is important to some people and makes them feel successful.” She says that many times we don’t “need more” or to “be busier” to achieve family and personal success.
Jessica Hoffman, a Peachtree City mother of two young daughters has this to say on the subject, “I base a lot of my success on if my children are having a good day. Sometimes making it through the day with only one tantrum is success. The younger me would never have thought success was tied to someone else’s behavior.”
Jessica’s definition of success, however, incorporates another dimension. As a Delta pilot, Jessica strives to be a dual role model for her daughters. “I want them to see that success just doesn’t have to be in one department—I want them to see that they can have a career and a family—that they can be anything they want to be.” She goes on, “They don’t have to stay at home, they don’t have to go to work, they can embrace whatever they want to be and whatever role they want for their lives. Options are the new success.”
Peachtree City resident, Chris McBarnette, says her success comes from having the two best jobs in America—a mother and a school teacher. Retired from teaching and coaching positions at J.C. Booth Middle school, the former Teacher of the Year, boasts that she, along with a dedicated and exceptional staff, taught some of the most amazing children. “I feel successful just knowing that I made a difference in the lives of my three children and eight grandchildren, and in the lives of the students I taught. “To have left an enduring legacy of love would be success in the highest order,” she says.
Long-time PTC resident, Lyda Miller acknowledges how fortunate she was to be able to be a stay-at-home mom with her three daughters. Her idea of success at this point in her life is keeping in close contact with her children and grandchildren and “knowing when to keep my mouth shut,” she laughs. Lyda, a tennis enthusiast who still rules the courts, generously reaches beyond her family to give back to the community by teaching tennis to special needs students at Fayette County High Schools and volunteering at her church, the hospital and with Special Olympics.
A fervent believer in giving back and successful living in our senior years, Lyda urges others to embrace aging and to volunteer in the community.
“We all have our own personal gifts and a responsibility to share them,” she says. She also believes that friendships drive success and well-being. “Develop and maintain friendships with people of all ages,” she sagely advises.
As we age and as life progresses, personal success beyond our careers is essential. You may find success as a friend, volunteer, mentor, spouse, advocate, parent or grandparent. Or you may seek success in a second career or in a profession where the intrinsic rewards outweigh the monetary returns. Success isn’t always pursuing money or achieving a long-sought goal; it is being satisfied with where you are at this point in your life.