• Jessica James

How I Understand 'Success'

It all started when he told me one thing, she told me the exact opposite...

‘It’s about the money.’

‘Money means nothing.’

‘It’s hard to be successful in creative careers.’

‘If you are pursuing your dream, you will be successful.’

‘Study and finish something.’

‘Studying is pointless when you have the school of life to learn.’

‘Take risks.’

‘Be realistic and responsible.’

Yes and no. This and that. YES both – SIMULTANEOUSLY.

"My way worked for me, my way worked for me and this guy."

"My way worked for me, this guy, and those 1,000 other people."

'Why do we value every other opinion but our own?'

Then one day, underneath this heavenly illuminated rock I found something, ‘Maybe… this is my success…”

I would like to share my success with you. Knowing that you will have your own beautiful ideas about what success means. But I hope that maybe we could collaborate our perspectives to continue paving the path for alternative views on this question – What does success look like for you?

I see success as the embodiment of these four elements – Filling up, acceptance, getting beyond and growth. When I have these four things in harmony, I am successful.  This is my belief and thus it is so, as simple as that. Success is ascertainable at any stage and moment in life, you don’t have let it be a feeling reserved only for external achievements. Redefine your beliefs and you will be happier.

Filling Up

There are so many analogies for this one and for anyone that has been reading my work for a while will know, I love myself a good analogy. You would not try and drive a car without petrol or drink a glass without water, you would not try and use your phone without battery and you don’t turn on lights without electricity. So why is it so difficult for some of us to FILL OURSELVES UP? Oprah once said in an interview that she used to feel ashamed when people said she was ‘full of herself,’ now she considers it a compliment to be FULL of herself. She is full, whole, and therefore has the capacity to give from the overflow.

Filling up is an individually unique practice. We all have our own ideas about what practices fill us up. I guess this is a similar idea to self-love, but I’m hoping to articulate a concept that goes beyond the conventional view of ‘self-love’ as bubble baths, quiet nights reading and lighting candles or meditating.

For me, filling up involves communicating my needs and confidently holding boundaries around those needs. Filling up is drawing and listening to music or audiobooks. Filling up is taking the time to get myself prepared for the week. Filling up is putting music on to sing along with in the shower. Filling up is going to the doctors when I need to. Filling up is running. My gosh, my biggest filler! Running and letting my thoughts just be. Filling up is meditating every morning and night and filling up is loving myself enough to feel it. From there, when the ideas start flowing about how to create in this world, I can get beyond myself and not be attached to the outcome.

Getting Beyond

Getting beyond myself is a concept I am recently beginning to acknowledge. I LOVE IT! I am one of those people who is empowered from seeing their global insignificance. I love being the underdog, the one without external expectations. I thrive knowing that I don’t have to be spectacular, that no one is relying on me to do something great. I like approaching things from a beginners mind and I think this has stemmed from a need to acheive in high school and the pressure itself stiffled me to actually do it. Whereas when there is no expectation or bench-mark, I generally exceed it if I want to.

Whenever I feel as though my cup is full, I go beyond myself, extending energy to those around me. I love it! Today was a really beautiful example. I am filled up and so I spent my time working, I made a little gift for my friends and drove it around to their house, I wrote my housemates a little message on our whiteboard about all the things I love about them. I went running, effortlessly and felt super! I wanted to push myself, I felt strong and it didn’t matter. I’m not training for anything, I’m not doing it for any other reason other than I love it. But from that place, now I want to challenge myself to run everyday for the rest of the week. This is getting beyond myself, but because I filled myself up first, the outcome of this challenge does not dictate my worth or fill a void for validation. I do it purely for the fun of it and I find this is a really beautiful way to live.

Bringing more love and joy into the lives of other people isa success, to me. Filling up and going beyond work together to establish my personal foundation. The building blocks to extend high a castle high into the sky!


Knowing what I can change and accepting that which I can’t. I have been learning and relearning a valuable lesson in the past few years which is to focus on what you DO WANT in life and not what you don’t. Took about 10hours of listening to Abraham Hicks’ teachings and positive affirmations but thinking about how you are scared you will never reach your dreams because you are scared of your dreams and when will I find a boyfriend, when will I have enough money to travel. DOES NOT bring you dreams, boyfriends and money. They just don’t.

Accepting the things that do not physically show up in your reality is a great first step to seeing what you DO WANT. Then you have to go beyond yourself and think, yes in the past my thoughts were directed towards lack and that is why I feel like these are lacks in my life, but now I have the opportunity to bring these things into my reality and find evidence of them already!

For me, the boyfriend thing is really weird. I have such high standards for myself and a partner that my thoughts and beliefs have to be absolutely clear and I need to be thriving in life to attract soulmates. The universe does not bring me the stud-muffins when I’m so-so, but man are they abundant when I am in love with myself and life. Accepting that this is how the world works, we attract to us what we believe we are capable of having and knowing that these things take time but only if we need the time. Then that is so.

Acceptance expresses itself in other ways too. Like when experiences and circumstances appear in your reality that you do not expect. Like when a love one passes away or a friend is really distraught. These are moments in which acceptance is important because there is no action required, circumstances like these are often out of our control and the best thing for us to do is just hold as much love and space for ourselves and others in this moment. We will feel a lot of emotions swirling around us, anger, frustration, heart ache. Truly feeling through every emotion is fundamental to move through them, and this process starts with an acknowledgment and then acceptance.

I could do a whole other post on acceptance. I find it such a fascinating topic. Acceptance of who we are a person and comparing our lives and accomplishments to other people. Learning that we are all here for unique purposes and our personality traits, ambitions and life circumstances DO all align for our highest purpose. I don’t think I’ll ever be a world reknowned anything, but I also have no desire to be. Where as other people just KNOW they will be famous and are destined for that. Accept yourself and be grateful for what you have. Success.


Mmm. This one is delicious. I can see ‘filling up and getting beyond’ likening to a cute little couple and then ‘acceptance and growth’ are our second pair of love-birds on this double date. Once we accept our circumstances, we identify the areas we want to improve. Where we want to grow. Enter – time – attention – persistance – growth.

Growth and I have a love-hate relationship. Growth is illusive on a short-term timeline and frequently I wish he would pipe up more often and make himself known to me. We can’t SEE growth. But whenever we put time into anything, we are growing, improving. To me, as long as I am in the game, trying, front line failing maybe, but trying – I am growing and that is a success.

The pathway of growth is not to be confused with an exponential trendline. Curving up and up and up towards the heavens. Not quite. Nor would I liken the enperience to a swirly directionless line gradually going up either. I don’t know when we decided that up was better than down but growing is an expanding and contracting ever-moving sphere of energy. When we push our limits, take risks, try new things – expand – we grow. Juxtaposed to this, when we reconnect with ourselves, stop doing so much, take wrong turns that force us to reevaluate, break any of our physical or spiritual bodies – contract – here too we grow. We need both, the doing and the being.

These pillars I have just described, are my indicators of success. But I have a confession to make. They are immeasurable. They are subjective. They can also be problematic. Because I have no intention of giving myself any gold stars just for participating in life. But I think we have gone so far the other way in beleiving that success only comes from the reaching the top 1% in anything, and I simply wish to suggest the possibility for a more hollistic definition of success that is individually determined. Not by our peer groups, our culture, our society or our parents. But by ourselves. Living lives to our own measurements of success and only then, do I think we can have a real chance of feeling internally successful.

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©2020 by Jessica James.