Is "creating" a part of how you define success?

How to define success on a personal, not societal level

Have you ever submitted a project, and you just know it’s great and it’s gonna impress people because you worked really hard on it? That’s the feeling I go for every time I write an article for #TheLifeofJLOWE, because for me, this is an outlet for self-expression in writing. It’s an outlet for creating.

Creating as a big part of my definition of success

A few weeks ago, I discussed how to define success for yourself and talked about how various communities and contexts can shape our definition of success. I talked about how growing up in Jamaica, I’ve been exposed to an idea of success centred around building something for yourself and putting your all into something to call yours.

I’ve been giving that idea more thought, and after a session with my personal life coach, I realized that my definition of success isn’t just about “building something for myself” in the sense of a business or something revenue-based, but rather, on a much more human level, my idea of success is centred around creating.

What do you find fulfilment in?

When I think about what gives me a sense of self-pride, a sense of true accomplishment, or more accurately - of true fulfilment, the moments that come to mind first aren’t the times when I came first in something, won a trophy, passed an exam, or was praised for something. What comes to mind for me are the times when I did something that involved some aspect of creating.

Rather, for example, I think about when I recorded a reggae cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You” on the steelpan back in 2012. I get that feeling of “success” when I write an article that I feel good about. I get it when I watch my scotch bonnet pepper plant bear new peppers. One of the biggest projects that I get that feeling from is a charity foundation that I started back in 2018 at my high school. It’s something that I sat down with for months on end to put together, drafting a constitution and everything, and created in my own vision.

Shameless plug for The Mr. & Ms. Campionite Foundation:

Success is defined on a personal level

I say this to say that uncovering your definition of success doesn’t necessarily mean doing something life-changing, or something that defines your “career”. In fact, I’d argue that defining success for yourself as something like “becoming a doctor” or “getting a job at XYZ company” or “getting promoted to XYZ position” might even be a bad thing. Of course, those things are awesome, and by all means, constitute a form of success, but my point here is that when I talk about “defining success for yourself”, I mean it on a much more intimate and personal level.

Success is not just about achieving things that were built to be achieved.

Read that again.

Success is not just about achieving things that were built to be achieved. Your own definition of success has to be personal and removed from the constructs of society, because when you take all of that away, when it’s just you with yourself, the question of “am I successful?” is not one that can be answered by the standards of other people.

Success as a creator/creative

As I continue to explore my own definition of success, I’m realizing that as a creative, and as a creator (which by the way we’re all creators, by the very nature of being humans), my definition of success is very much enveloped in doing tangible things that involve self-expression. I find success, happiness and fulfilment in doing things that I know you can see me in.

One of the reasons why I really appreciate visual arts is because it’s one of the most transparent ways that you can see into the mind and perspective of an artist. It really embodies what it means to be able to “see the artist” through what they’ve created.

As a writer and musician - my two main forms of creative expression - I hope to always put a piece of me in whatever I put out into the world. When I play steelpan, one of the messages that always goes through my mind is that the melodies that I play are like my “voice”, in lieu of singing lyrics in a song. I do my best to convey emotions through dynamics and how I feel about the music through my playing style.

Conclusion

Defining success isn’t something that’s done overnight. Nor is the definition that you come to a static one. As we go through various phases of life, success will come in various forms, and fulfilment will be found in various things. For me, as a creator, recent grad and young professional, my definition of success seems to be shaping up to be centred around creating something for myself. What that means is a question that I have to answer as I go through the process of creating.

So as you go through your different phases of life and continue to do great things in your own timeline, take some time to think about what success means for you. It could be similar to me, where you find fulfilment in creating, or it could be wildly different. Whatever it is, once you understand how you define success for yourself on a very personal level, you can begin to feed that part of you to gain fulfilment out of what you do. Defining success is just the first step.

Once you know your definition, the fun part is putting it all into action.

As always, I’d love it if you could like, leave a comment or share this week’s newsletter! We recently passed 200 subscribers, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks for all the support, and remember to subscribe if you haven’t yet joined the mailing list!

Until next Sunday,
Justin

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