On Success, Fulfillment, and the Social Media Rabbit Hole. (Or, How a Dictionary Saved Me From a Mercury Retrograde Meltdown.)

“The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Guess who’s back?

Mercury. Effing. Retrograde.*

Yep. Does anyone else feel like Mercury is always in retrograde? Sigh.

Mercury retrograde is astrologically known as the best time to stop, reflect, reexamine, redefine, reevaluate, redirect, and pretty much any other word you can think of that starts with “re.”

(See also:  recreate. Which:  Count me in.)

Essentially, it’s about slowing your roll — and, well, our collective roll — and taking time out to make sure things are moving in the right direction and you’re doing what you want to be doing and that your ducks and your rows are all arranged in the appropriate — and, ideally, the most fulfilling and self-honoring — way.

And if they’re not? Devising a plan to get them there.

Mercury retrograde also invites you to look closely at beliefs and deeply ingrained thoughts — about yourself, about the world at large — to ensure they are aligned with the person you know yourself to be now and the person you are on the (perpetual) journey of becoming.

This part, I assert, is always the most difficult.

Because life circumstances change, and you collect new experiences and perspectives, and your desires and dreams evolve over time. But often, you continue to think the same thoughts.

Unless you consciously choose to think differently.

And you might hold fast to the same beliefs you’ve always had because you’ve never stopped to deconstruct them or ever realized that, for you, the boundaries they once put in place no longer apply.

Personally, the one topic I keep coming back to again and again is:  How do I define success?

Although I thought I had this one figured out a while ago — and even wrote about it on this here website — Mercury has apparently decided that this question of how I determine my own level of success in life is the most pressing issue I get to address during the current three week retrograde.


I’ll be honest in saying that I’m still working on this one.

Because, for me, trying to once again dismantle this idea of success has led me down some interesting roads and unearthed some fascinating emotional skeletons and has, ultimately, gotten a whole lot more complicated than I ever thought it might.

At this point, I am left with more questions than clarity…

     Whose idea of success am I chasing?

     How do I determine my worthiness in the world?

     Can I feel content and grateful for what I have while simultaneously reaching for more?

     If I lost everything, would I still love myself?

     On what in my life do I place the most value?

These are big questions, and I’m slowly working my way towards the answers. But I can tell you one thing I know for sure:

Success looks a lot of different ways. And has absolutely nothing to do with money.

And you must define success for yourself if you want it to mean anything at all.

Because if you look at your world through the lens of someone else’s life choices and use what you see to define your self-worth, you are always, ALWAYS, going to be disappointed.

And doing this only leads to a giant rabbit hole of drawing comparisons and feeling less than. Which, by the way, our society not-so-subtly encourages.

Most of Facebook and Instagram, for example, is all about cherry picking the best and most beautiful and most impressive moments ever, and then stringing them together like a storyboard of lies (lies, I say!) that makes it look like everyone else is pretty and perfect and always at the beach.

(Spoiler alert:  They’re not.)

Yesterday I was out for a run when the following question suddenly hit me:

     Where is the intersection between success and fulfillment?

Being the huge English nerd that I am, I came home and consulted a dictionary:

     Successful:  accomplishing an aim or purpose; having achieved popularity, profit, or      distinction.

     Fulfilled:  satisfied or happy because of fully developing one’s abilities or character.

I think I’d rather feel fulfilled.

So, what if you choose to focus more on cultivating fulfillment than on living up to some externally-constructed, arbitrary idea of success?

I don’t know, you guys, but it sounds like something worth seriously considering.

I’m still very much exploring this idea in my own life and I guarantee there will be more in the future from me on this topic as I wade through the very deep waters of self-worth, contentment, and defining myself in the world.

For now, I leave you with this quote written by one of my favorite authors in one of my favorite books:

“Perhaps that is why desire causes men calamity. By identifying with our desires and taking them too seriously, we not only increase our susceptibility to disappointment, we actually create a climate inhospitable to the free and easy fulfillment of those desires”  ~Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

* To learn more about Mercury in retrograde – and this particular retrograde cycle – I encourage you to visit Chani Nicholas’ website here, and to read this post, specifically (also linked in the beginning of this post).