One of the things I love about Instagram and the people I follow there, is the conversations that are sparked. Whilst I love scrolling through beautiful images and cannot think of a happier way to ease myself into each day, it’s the social side that really captures my attention and enriches my life. One post that gave me pause for thought recently was the question of how we measure our success?
Katharina at Heitermagazine (and if you don’t follow her, you definitely should) raised the question ‘what do you associate with a fruitful life? How do you measure success?’ For Katharina it’s about giving herself time to enjoy life and celebrate those small cheerful moments. Heiter moments. Heiter is German for cheerful but if you follow Kiki on Instagram, you will realise that it’s so much more than that. Her feed and blog are full of ideas and images that celebrate this feeling of cheer, from summer day picnics to cosy blankets and candlelight.
So is happiness a measure of success?
Her post gave me pause for thought. I realise success can mean such different things for each of us and probably changes throughout our lives. It might be tied up in making people happy or achieving an academic qualification. An income goal or a fitness target. I know that for me and probably many people, the ultimate measure of success is feeling happy. Success and happiness, one balances the other beautifully, like the perfect couple riding off on tandem into the sunset. I also know that the things that make me happy can be so very small. Kitchen pottering on a Saturday morning, a long walk in the Suffolk countryside, sewing a beautiful old button onto a fresh new piece of linen or pausing to enjoy the shadows cast on the table as the light hits it just so.
How does a business measure success?
As a business owner, it is necessary for me to regularly review and analyse how my business is performing. I might be running a small hand made business, but this is not a game. I have bills to pay and targets to meet. I have to regularly measure the success of my business by way of spreadsheets and figures. My working day is long and packed with tasks from start to finish. Does making the columns on the spreadsheet add up feel like success? Does it make me happy?
Hmmm. Well it certainly is a relief to see those numbers balance out and to know that things are ticking along. I’ve never wanted to run an empire and during what continues to be a difficult time in retail, I should perhaps give myself a little more credit for keeping on top of things. I’m not complaining for one moment and I feel incredibly grateful to be continuing to trade, because it’s tough out there right now. But I’m not sure it makes me feel successful. I feel there could be more. More time in each day. More time do do those small things that make me happy. That is what success would feel like to me.
What if success is simply measured in time?
If I make a list of all the things that make me happy (and therefore, to follow my logic, equal success) it seems that what they require, more than anything else, is time.
Time to boil a kettle and slowly pour the water onto the tea leaves. Time to wait a few minutes before pouring and then the time, the glorious time, to sit and gently sip from a favourite cup. Enjoying the taste, savouring the moment. Not quenching the thirst, but rather salving the soul.
I wish for more time in every day to do the things I love. That would feel like true success to me. Daily dog walks that are slower and longer, dog walks that allow the time needed to let the spaniel pup scurry more and time to watch the old dog do his watching. More minutes spent sitting and marvelling at the dust as it sparkles and dances in the sunlight. A long pause each day to knead bread and knit socks. Not skipping Savasna at the end of Yoga practice. More time to feel gratitude.
This would feel like success to me.
But where do I find this elusive time?
It seems to me that slowing down the ticking clock is the holy grail we are all in search of. The other day I heard someone on the radio put forward the idea that employees should be paid for the time spent commuting. The argument being that so many of us are plugged into our digital world from the moment we wake, the lines between work and play have blurred. The daily journey includes emails checking and the reading of reports, office hours stretched. Of course there is another argument to say that this time spent on the peripherals of the working day goes in some way to make up for the working hours now wasted. The time lost whilst employees check in on social media, play a game or look something up the online only to fall down the rabbit hole of digital distraction.
So there we have it. I’m not unhappy but as I ponder how the next few years of my business might look and any change in direction I want to take, it strikes me that considering how to carve out more free time should perhaps be a priority. So what does success look like for you? Do have an income goal or fitness target? Or perhaps, like me, you just want a little more time to drink the tea.