If you are a baby boomer like myself, you remember the opulent 80’s. It was a decadent period of time when having more material things like big houses and fancy cars was a sign of success. Even fashion was extravagant with big hair, shoulder pads and glamorous dresses. Dynasty was the show to watch and everything in our culture glorified money and the accumulation of expensive material items.

I was in Real Estate in the late 80’s and I remember one of my colleagues used to always say “He who dies with the most toys wins!”

In the 80’s having more was a symbol of success.

I bought into that idea of success as a young Mother, not because we had a lot of money. On the contrary. We struggled a lot to make ends meet. However I felt as though I was some sort of a loser for not being able to make enough money to live comfortably. We were a “paycheck to paycheck” family and I thought that there was something wrong with me. According to the world we lived in-I was not successful.

We struggled with money and I often got depressed and angry that we couldn’t find a way to make more money and still be great parents. I came from a blue collar family that equated working hard with making a great living. That meant dollars for hours and I simply wasn’t willing to be away from our girls.

I chose to give up my new career in acting, something that I went to College for, to go into Real Estate so that I could schedule my work around when my husband was home to take care of our daughters. Because my career was in second place to my desire to be a good Mom, everything we made went to braces, gymnastics, expensive pre-school, etc. for our 3 daughters. We made sure that they had everything they needed. Most importantly to us, we gave them our time.

For personal “selfish” reasons- I wanted to “witness” their life-to hear their stories when they came home from school . I wanted to be their soft place to fall when someone was unkind to them and their cheerleader when they needed confidence. I wanted to be the one to drive them to their activities, read books with them, teach them to be nice people and still be strong. I wanted to love them up. And I couldn’t seem to figure out how to do that and still have a lucrative career.

As I look back now I see things through a different lens. I see that I was successful at what was really important to me. Instead of focusing on the material things we didn’t have or the struggle for money-I wish I could have focused more on the real success that I created by following my heart.

Our 3 daughters are amazing women-smart, kind, loving and successful. They light up my life as they journey into exciting careers and Motherhood.

With a more mature meta view of my life I realize that the struggle was worth it for me.

Here’s the thing-we often have to make choices about competing things that we value or want and one of those competing choices will sometimes have to trump the other one. That is life!

Real success, ultimately, means having the courage to follow your heart and, as my daughter Cosette says “Go big or go home” in whatever way suits you!

Success is unique to all of us. What lights us up and fulfills us is as unique as your DNA. This is NOT something to be judged. The important thing to remember is that it is up to YOU to determine that for yourself.

It is not always the easiest path but it is always the most fulfilling!

Now that is what I am talkin’ about!

Cheers to YOU and your success,

P.S. Ironically the same guy that said “He who has the most toys wins” found himself divorced and broke a few short years later.

For all of the toys he had, everything fell apart for him. Life is funny that way…….