I think of all of the ways I have defined “success” throughout my life. It’s a word which, like so many others, has a definition that evolves with where we are in that moment of our lives.
Success is defined by Webster’s dictionary as: “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Once, when I was very young, success was being able to ride a bicycle with no training wheels. I wanted to be on my own, supported by nothing except sheer will. This independence to ride alone on the sidewalk was what I then labeled as my greatest success.
Throughout the years, my goals changed. At twenty-seven, these goals became simpler but the chance to succeed was seemingly even more difficult. I only wanted to do everyday tasks known to the rehabilitation world as “activities of daily living”. I wanted to walk from one doorway to another. I wanted to get dressed all by myself. I wanted, believe it or not, to be able to change my daughters’ diapers.
Recently, I heard from a twenty-four year-old female. Her unexpected, unbelievable success came not long ago when she took a shower all by herself. She was even able to reach up and run a wash cloth through her hair! She, too, had a stroke at a young age. Labels of success depend on where you are in your life.
My most recent success was painting stripes on my daughter’s bedroom wall. I measured for the stripe’s length and width. Okay, it took several times measuring/removing painter’s tape/holding up the leveler again and again and again before pressing down the tape one last time. I found success in all the things I did during this project. I had enough eyesight necessary to judge the evenness of the lines where they met on opposite sides of the window. I had the ability to dip a brush into the paint and the strength and stability to hold onto this brush and color the walls. I had the balance to climb a few steps up a ladder. I made my daughter smile as we worked together to reach her goals.
Success should not be defined by others peering into your life. It is not a word which can be fully defined in a dictionary. Success is found in your own head and your own heart. Believe in yourself. Reach for your goals. Define your own success today.