I recently had someone congratulate me on the success of my business. I thanked them and then thought, appearances aren’t always as they seem for one and secondly, what defines success is an extremely personal and individual thing. How do you define your success?

It’s not always about money

I quit my ‘real’ job at the end of last year for several reasons one of which was to make a go of this photography thing I do. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say that’s not really the smart way to do this because having your income really helps you fund your business and you know, pay the bills. I agree to a point, but it was time for me to go and get back to doing what I love instead of spending my time involved in something I did not care about nor have any interest in — never mind the toxic person I worked with. Sometimes success is about your own well-being, mental and physical health and just being happy.

I am happier being on my own, responsible for my own work and not having to deal with any sort of corporate b.s. or coworkers. My blood pressure is the lowest it’s been in years — that is a success for me. I’m working on what I want to work on, my art, helping others with their creative journeys, being who I am and not who I’m not. Those are all successes that are not financial in nature.

Celebrate them all

If we take each project, each day, each week and stay focused on the positive it really helps to keep us motivated and driven to move forward in our pursuits photography or otherwise. Count the small successes along the way. Had an image accepted to a gallery show? Success. Edited an image to turn out exactly how you had it in your head? Success. Learned a really cool new technique? Success. Connected with some great new photography group? Success. Updated your expenses spreadsheet? Success. The list goes on and on. Pay attention to the good, the positive and what you accomplish instead of beating yourself up for what you didn’t get done. You’ll feel better about yourself and your work.

Societal success

Yes, society dictates a lot of what, why and how we feel about life in general. According to a generalized belief in order to be successful, you should have money, have material things to show for your hard work and keep working hard to earn the money and get the things. I hope and believe this is slowly changing. As I said, our definitions of success all vary and are personal. Yes, we need to live and pay bills but at what expense?

What matters to you

A good friend and photography mentor of mine posted this yesterday and it summed up a couple of sentences of notes I had written earlier in the day in my own article notes document.

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value” – Albert

“So often we chase ideas, enterprises and education because we believe it will help us be successful and make money. If you are like me and desire to make an impact, to live a life of significance, then the core motivation needs to be that of value and not accomplishment. When you do this it leads to success because it creates an atmosphere of integrity, enthusiasm and passion that becomes magnetic.” – Ron Clifford

Lead photo courtesy of Ron Clifford