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Erin Cox Headshot

Reframing Your Measures of Success

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One of my best friends and I were discussing our once-wonderful, but now aging and battered vehicles the other day, and how nice it would be to have a dazzling new one. You might imagine what my backseat looks like, with three car seats absolutely crammed in. If you took those car seats out, the food crumbs could sustain a small animal for a week! My son has spilled sippy cups of milk on the floor during our road trips enough times that I can't seem to lose the faint, nasty smell of rotten milk. As each week progresses, my car gets progressively full of papers, socks, gloves, raisins, and toys as I schlep my kids to piano lessons, gymnastics, and running errands around town. I can't always clear it out since I have a 1- and 3-year-old to unload into the house. So please, don't ask me for a ride anytime soon -- my face would blush with embarrassment.

I've been lusting after a sparkly new Audi Q7. That... would make me feel successful, organized, and overjoyed, for a few months at least. The nature of three small children is that they are incredibly tough on cars. And, why would I have my family go from having a completely paid off vehicle to having a substantial car payment? My wonderful old Acura has been a trustworthy, problem-free vehicle. When I ran the numbers, it made me realize that I can wait a little longer.

What I really am craving is a clean and organized car. An appointment is being made for my car to be detailed (then no more food in the car), and I am saving tens of thousands of dollars... until my kids are slightly less destructive! That car payment would have made me feel like I need to work more. That is not freeing. Not at all.

As you know by now, I measure success as freedom.

I desire the financial ability to travel at will. Wrapping up the cost of traveling around the world or one-year worth of an Ivy League college education into something I drive around town just doesn't feel right at this time.

What does feel right is having the freedom to work from home, part time, so I can focus primarily on being a fabulous mama, making enough to pay for my part-time nanny plus enough to pay myself a decent salary. What feels successful is paying off every bit of my family's debt and planning to purchase an airplane to further support our love of travel.

So would some new Christian Louboutin shoes or a sparkly new SUV make me feel successful? Definitely, but not in the way I am craving success at this stage in my life.

Here are the top things in life that define success to me at this time:

1) Raising joyful, well-adjusted children.

2) Sustaining a loving and fun marriage.

3) Creating a home environment that is comforting and joyful.

4) Having the luxury of working in a way that fulfills me, feeds my soul, and lets me know I am making the world a better place.

5) Making enough money to pay the bills with enough left over for the luxury of traveling.

What does success look like for you at this point in your life? Please share!

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