I’ve been doing a lot of “soul searching” or introspection the past few months, especially around the one year mark of living in Germany. Moving abroad and being an expat have certainly changed my life and mostly for the better.
It’s opened my eyes to a completely new culture, new language, new food and a new way of life. In the beginning, I found myself alone a lot with probably too much time to think. Now, I have a group of girlfriends that I meet for dinners once a month and sometimes lunch, as well as great couple friends who we are traveling with this year! It’s amazing how much can change in a year.
One of the biggest changes for me is how I’ve started to measure success, specifically with my career. The move abroad left me with great uncertainty about my career, the sole bucket I would use to measure my success. I used to say, I’ll be successful when I’m a manager. OR I’ll be successful when I’m making a 6 figure salary. OR I’ll be successful when I have an office with a door. But now I’ve totally redefined success to include more buckets of well-being and realizing that a career in an office isn’t the path for everyone.
I decided that I needed to redefine success because my career situation totally changed. I went from full-time, to nothing, to part-time. It was a difficult time for me to discover who I am outside of my job. I’ve worked my entire life to make it to the next phase of life: from high school to college, from an internship to a full-time job, from engaged to married. And after a life-altering decision to move abroad and being jobless, I became depressed. I was sad to be away from family and couldn’t pour myself into work. I found myself measuring a successful day by how many loads of laundry I did or if I cleaned the entire house or how many walks Copley and I took. Of course, these are important, but not exactly great for the mind or soul.
I started to realize that I couldn’t put all of my successful mindset into the career bucket. I began to measure success by my happiness in my everyday life. If my husband is happy, we’re doing things that make us happy, like travel, and we’re moving towards our goals in life, then I’m successful. If I can lay my head on my pillow at night knowing that I did something positive for someone else, then I’m successful. If I do something everyday to improve my German, then that’s a successful day. I can’t only be successful if I have a great meeting with a big wig at the office or if I nailed my presentation. Life doesn’t work that way.
One thing I will say about life in Germany is the mindset of work. It is definitely work to live and not live to work over here. It is something that I have come to appreciate about the German culture. It has taught me (and my husband) that having a career that is challenging and we are passionate about is what matters.
I still have career goals, of course, but it is not the only definition of success for me. I’ve expanded my mind to consider what success means. Of course, having a happy, healthy marriage has been a majority priority for me, but now it is a true measure of success. There’s a reason why it’s called a successful marriage. For me, the past few years especially have taught me that there’s more to life than work and that success is the combination of family, friends, community and work. Everything together is what true success means.
How do you measure success?
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