As a successful entrepreneur and business coach who has worked with thousands of thriving business owners, I can say with absolute certainty that success is not about working harder. It’s also not about working “smarter” – and it’s not as simple as just “knowing your why.” Many uber-successful women think they know what drives them. They have the six- or seven-figure salary, the beautiful home, family, friends, etc., but they aren’t happy, and no amount of success or working harder or scaling new heights is going to change that.
These ideas all play into what I call The Success Myth, which arises when women succeed and achieve major career and business milestones and believe it’s the desire to make an impact on the world and follow their purpose that’s driving them – when, in fact, their motivations are much less healthy. The Success Myth traps successful business owners into a life of anxiety, depression and, in many cases, misery.
Trust me, I’ve been there. I had all the pretty things, lots of money and success and thought my “why” was helping people. But underneath it all, it was really about proving to my mother that I was good enough. I was miserable. That misery became a gift because it propelled me to stop, dig deep, and change what I was doing and how I was doing it. The benefit of that change is that I reclaimed my real self and my happiness, and now I get to help other women do the same.
Peggy is one of those women I have been blessed to work with. She was extremely successful early on in her career, long before we met. But her mental health was suffering, and it was taking a toll on her physical health and her relationship with her daughters. I’ll let her tell you the rest and then see where you identify. This may be the story that will save your life.
I was living the life that many little girls dream of – especially girls that grew up like me. My mom would have been proud. I was a self-made, successful entrepreneur, taking private jets with fancy people, dining with royalty, living in a gorgeous house that I had designed, and married with three beautiful children. I had everything, yet I realized that money couldn’t feed my soul. Success couldn’t love my children. A beautiful house couldn’t mend my marriage. It was time to walk away. I had to leave my marriage and my career in order to save my daughters from following in my unhappy footsteps. I needed to save myself. How did I get here?
Turns out, I was living my mother’s dream: to marry the prince, to travel, to live the high life. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for living an abundant life, but when you have to choose between happiness and sanity – well, let’s just say that’s not a choice you should have to make. I was medicating myself with money and alcohol and was deeply disconnected from who I am. If this feels like you or someone you know, keep reading.
After the divorce, I downsized my life, took an ample dose of self-reflection, and went back to school to finish my degree. During that time, I met my now-husband. After I graduated, my husband suggested I do something nice for myself – like a spa day – to honor my hard work. I looked at him like he was crazy. I didn’t want a facial; I wanted an MBA! I was driven by the fear that I wasn’t smart enough and was well on my way to repeating the mistakes of the past. So, I dug a little deeper.
As Carolin once said: changing this thinking and these patterns is like dealing with an addiction. It takes time. It’s deep. But it can be done. I wanted to help other women like I had been helped, so I started following my intuition and instead of going for an MBA, I became a Proctor Gallagher Consultant. I even started a business with my husband that had a corporate component to it and the potential for one-on-one coaching, but deep down I knew this wasn’t exactly right for me. There had to be a better way. That’s when I went down a path that changed my life.
That’s when I met Carolin.
Carolin helped me find the better way – meaning more alignment with who I truly am, as opposed to the person driven by the values and dreams of my mom or society – so that I could live a life I love, whether that’s staying at home to work with my daughters or helping women reclaim their lives and purpose. She helped me realize that as much as I’ve loved working in the corporate sector, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I don’t like following rules – I like making them! She supported me in doing just that.
Being able to work with someone you can trust, who can help you discern what you really want, is invaluable. A good coach or advisor will help you see the value of your story, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. They will help you navigate the difference between wants and shoulds, and provide a meaningful framework for you to engage with so that you can finally uncover your pain points, your fears, and, most importantly, your greatest dreams. Carolin provided that, and today I can honestly say that I’ve found peace and fulfillment and know that those qualities lie at the center of my success. I wish the same for you.
Peggy became aware of false drivers that seemed to promise “success” but actually drained any chance for fulfillment and happiness. Once she took the time to ask herself tough questions, she was able to give herself the gift of freedom. That gift is waiting for you, too. Ask yourself:
- When I think about my career, what do I feel? (You may experience a range of emotions. Just jot down some one-word answers.)
- What were the stories I was told about success that influenced my choice in career and lifestyle?
- Was there a time when I went against my instincts because of a “should”? (e.g. You want to take that class, but you should really take that other class, job, or opportunity.) What was your gut telling you?
You don’t have to do this work alone. To connect to others, join the Beyond Fulfilled Community and start your journey towards a Beyond Fulfilling Life here https://www.beyondfulfilled.com/challenge. The best is yet to come.