Is Yours an Innie or an Outie?

Image by Still Unique Photography

Image by Still Unique Photography

No, I’m not talking about belly buttons, I’m talking about success. Where do you get yours from? Are you an outie who believes success comes from reaching specific goals, making money, being popular, receiving approval, or having power? This is definitely how our culture defines it. We are constantly striving for more likes on our Facebook page, more followers on our blogs and websites, more customers, increased sales, more supporters, higher test scores, more income, higher ratings, more recognition, and more…. Success is determined and measured by getting something from out there, and there is a great deal of external pressure to ‘make it’.

Or are you an innie who believes success is about personal fulfillment? If you are an innie, you’re focused on following your heart and believe that you are successful when you’re true to yourself and doing what you feel called to do, regardless of the outcome. True happiness and satisfaction come from following your inner passion, not from extrinsic rewards. There is a great freedom being an innie because your success isn’t measured, defined, or determined by others. It is totally an inside job.

While it isn’t easy to change from an outie to an innie, it can be done, even without surgery. All it takes is desire, commitment, confidence, and patience. And when you find you’ve slipped and your innie has popped out, just take your finger and push it back in!

Nice But Not Necessary

Image by Still Unique Photography

Image by Still Unique Photography

What are the things you think you need to be happy? Do you have a list? Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at each item on your list and see if it is really necessary, like water, or just nice, like a glob of whipped cream on top of a mug of hot chocolate. I know that some of the items on your list will be a tough call and your ego will insist that every item is necessary. But that isn’t true.

What if your happiness, peace, fulfillment, etc., was never dependent on the attainment of these “things”? What if it is really the result of being free of them, or at least free of most of them? Take some time to examine your list and see how many items you can move from the Necessary List to the Nice List. Now, don’t you feel freer? Even happier? So, the next time your ego tells you that you need some “thing” or condition to be fulfilled, happy, safe, etc., stop and ask yourself…. “What about this?” I believe you will be surprised by how many times your answer will be…. “Nice, but not necessary.”

A Success Story

Image by Still Unique Photography

Image by Still Unique Photography

I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately.  And what I discovered surprised me.

In the beginning, all I had was a yearning, or perhaps it was more like a beckoning:  to nurture my creative side by pursuing my passion for photography.  This yearning soon expanded to writing insightful messages about my photographs, which expanded yet again to wanting to share these with others.  Following my bliss and doing what I felt I was meant to do, filled my soul to the brim with joy and peace.

Soon, however, a little nagging voice emerged saying that if I really wanted to experience fulfillment and satisfaction, then I needed to have a “real” purpose; one that involved something of true value and worth, such as earning money, helping others, and receiving recognition.  As I listened to this voice and believed it, a hole in my soul began to develop, and so down that path I went trying to fill it up.

I enrolled in an on-line “start your own photography business” course, got a logo, a Facebook page, a website, an Etsy shop, a Pinterest page, a blog, and hooked up with Fine Art America.  I read books about how to create the life you desire, took on-line courses, and read blogs and articles about how to get noticed in web searches and promote your business.  The more I learned, the more I realized how much I needed to do if I wanted to be successful.  I felt like a rabbit hopping quickly down the path chasing a carrot on a string that is always just out of its reach. I set goals, visualized, affirmed, and believed. I reached deep down and felt what it would feel like to be a successful still life photographer and blogger.  I did my part daily and trusted that the Universe was working in the background pulling it all together.  I believed that success was just around the corner, and that I would one day “get” there.

In the meantime, the hole in my soul grew wider. The joy and peace I once felt was slowly leaking away, until one day I woke up, empty.  Fulfillment and satisfaction were replaced with anxiety and inadequacy. I looked around for my motivation, but it was nowhere to be found.  I realized that my enthusiasm, joy, and contentment had suffocated in my pursuit of success.  Right then and there, I stopped, looked around and sensed that I might be on the wrong path.  As I contemplated this, several questions surfaced:

  • What is it I really want?  A deep sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction
  • What is my definition of success?  Attaining specific goals such as making money, helping others, and having a certain number of Facebook and blog followers
  • What is the relationship between those two answers?

Wait a minute….didn’t I experience personal fulfillment and satisfaction in the beginning when I was following my heart’s desire and doing what I enjoyed?  I wasn’t making money, helping others, or receiving recognition.  Right then and there, I realized that I had been duped and was on the wrong path!  I had bought into our culture’s definition of success.  I fell hook, line, and sinker for the belief that fame and fortune are not only more important than following your heart, but are also the true pathways to peace, fulfillment, and joy.  Not wanting to venture down this path any further, I quickly  gathered up my camera and tripod and headed back home.  To my surprise, when I arrived, I found my passion and my authentic self waiting for me.  As I wrapped my arms around them and held them to my heart, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be and my soul was once again filled to the brim with peace and joy.

From time to time, I believe we all wrestle with success.  What is your success story?

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