Recently I attended one of those "exclusive, by invitation only" book signings where the author/speakers were a locally famous, mega-super-team #1 award winning, husband and wife Realtor duo. True to every other event like this, the fluorescent lighting illuminated the sort-of-kind, sort-of-side-eying-everyone-else, weathered faces around the room. As expected I was in a small group of some of the top ranking Real Estate pros in Phoenix.
Now, on the way to these kinds of events I usually talk myself into being amped to hear success stories and I show up ready to be moved to action on some aspect of my life or in my business that I'm unhappy with. And as I sat there in my usual front row fashion I just wasn't moved. At all. I felt icky, actually. Like I was in the WRONG place, and I wanted to bolt.
Don't get me wrong, the hosts and speakers were great people. The crowd wasn't wrought with the kind of negative, griping complainers that so often pop their heads up during the Q&A segment at speaking engagements. I was grateful to be among a good group of people, and I was uber flattered to be on the guest list. And yet, I felt SO out of my element in there with these folks who have achieved the very thing I thought I was out to achieve myself. Or so I thought.
I had to gut check myself as I stepped out to the restroom. What in the heck is going on? Was I being a freagen snob?
I finished the event out politely. Gratefully(because you should show gratitude when it'd due) and then it hit me as I pulled away.
I'm not unhappy. Not at all. I'm not displeased by the pace of my personal life, nor do my accomplishments seem dull in comparison to my dreams. I was all queued up to get a pick-me-up in the room that morning, and I didn't need one! Jeeze, I thought. It's as though I was trying measure up to other's definitions of the term "success." I've been trying to Keep Up With The damn Joneses.
Popular notions of the phenomena of Keeping Up With The Joneses would depict a character as trying to climb social ladders, or hurdle socioeconomic categories into maximum potential wealth and status at a cost to their underlying security and goodness. In short, a superficial phony who might lease the newest Mercedes because a neighbor just got a new Lexus. Or one who might buy a too-big-for-your-own-good home at 37 years old because their younger sister just bought a luxury home of her own at 35. Keeping Up has lead to much suffering and strife for many- and it's definitely important to watch yourself about it.
But, Keeping Up With The Joneses isn't all a bad thing.
I believe, as humans, that we can elevate our energy and our abilities when we're in the presence of others who draw us upwards into our own unique and peaceful fulfillment. Sometimes these external influencers can shift our mindsets directly, or sometimes passively. A book recommended to us by a friend, a neighbors planting an organic garden, the co-worker who got debt free last year after refusing to vacation until he accomplished the goal.
And that afternoon as I planted myself at my laptop I made a short list of thoughts about Keeping Up With The Joneses. Because I have a love affair with lists and I just needed to get it off my chest and on to digital-paper.
No monumentally long essay about the very simple, clear ideas I had at the moment- here I go sharing them with you as they came to me.
1. Looking outside of yourself for templates in the lives of others will not lead you to fulfillment.
2. It's absolutely OK to reach forward, to desire progress, to desire financial and professional wealth. It's actually more than OK. It's fantastic to desire, it's what makes you human and beautiful. Desire away!!
3. The right way to pull yourself off your own course of fulfillment is to fall prey to that very charming temptress that is telling you to prove yourself. You are already worthy, and you can do it on your terms.
4. On the spirit of saying fuggedhaboutit to a preoccupation with worthiness, you don't have to prove yourself anyone, including yourself. Let it go. Just let it go.
5. Success is a vague, shapeless term that speakers and authors and conversationalists use in place of deeper words like "peaceful," or "anchored," or "liberated," or "financially healthy." Be specific. And then realize that success is relative.
Could it be time for a gut check? Are you living your life comparing yourself to others? Are you choosing or declining certain things while keeping a close eye on what others are doing?