Learnings from Arianna Huffington : What type of life do you want?

At the moment, I’m reading a book by Arianna Huffington called Thrive. The book is based on her experiences of what it means to be successful – especially a successful woman.

The material trappings of success – such as fancy cars and expensive holidays – are just a tiny bit of success. Sure, these things do show the outside world that you’ve ‘made it’. But, Arianna says, you only attain true success when you enjoy a sense of well-being.

What do you want out of life?

What struck a chord with me is the story of Kate Sheehan, who started out in corporate communications – very much like I did.

She quickly climbed the corporate ladder until she was writing speeches for the CEO of a large, successful corporate.

Then – one day – she turned around and asked herself what she wanted to get out of her life, rather than what career path she wanted to follow.

After I had read this, I asked myself what type of life I want to lead. I went further, asking myself if – currently – I am leading the life I want to lead…

Am I happy with my life?

When I worked in corporate, I found myself doing everything I thought that other people wanted me to do. I worked harder – not always smarter – and I thought that it was a sign of weakness to ask for help or say that I didn’t know something. I thought that if I admitted ignorance about some part of my job, the powers-that-be would be all too happy to send me packing.

I lived under a constant cloud of stress, which showed up in my body with symptoms such as chronic neck pain as well as a dicky digestive system. This wasn’t the life that I wanted to lead but I thought that I needed to grit my teeth and bear all these unpleasantries because I was ‘climbing thr corporate ladder’ towards this ethereal notion of success. What success would look like when I got there, I didn’t know, but I was determined to get there!

I now have a work-life balance of sorts

At the end of last year, I made the jump to being a full-time law student as well as a freelance editor and writer.

I can honestly say that – 90% of the time – I have the life that I want. (I say 90% because there are those inevitable days on which I do wish that I had a 9 – 5 job again as well as colleagues.)

One thing that is the most precious thing to me about my freelance life is that I dictate how I spend my life and where I work. The amount of time that I spend behind a designated desk is immaterial. All that matters is that I get the job done – and I don’t have the stress of having a manager breathing down my neck, every single second of every day.

Do you need to ask yourself is not if you have the job you want but if you have the life you want. This – I believe – is the foundation for true success.