April 6, 2012

Let's Discuss: Success

Credit: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Success” – that elusive, desirable thing that I personally, and I’m sure many of you, are striving to attain. Starting my own brand just under two years ago, I have wrestled with the idea of professional success more times than I can count. What does success really mean? How do I reach it? Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Success is not an end point.
As I celebrated milestones on my blog (10,000 fans in less than year! a segment on national TV!) it became clear to me – there is never, ever a moment in life where you can relax and say “I’ve made it.” Even if I publish a book, I still need sales to do well, and then after the book, I need something else, another project, to sustain that momentum. In other words, it can be a real rat race if you allow it to be. Success is never, ever a destination and you will never be done searching for it. So what’s the trick? The trick is to enjoy the journey. Take every single day and be thankful for what you have in that moment!

2. There is no such thing as overnight success.
Okay, let me re-phrase that: some things may seem like overnight success, but in pretty much every situation, there was a lot of hard work to get to that point. Take Bethenny Frankel for example - Skinny Girl margaritas may seem like a very quick rise to popularity and her reported $10 million check only a year after launch may seem like overnight success to us. But by watching her show, you see that she has been working towards that business idea for something like 10 years. And that she heard “no” more times than she could count. So everyone repeat after me: there is no substitute for hard work! Success takes time and effort.

3. Success is just as scary as failure.
No really, I promise. What happens when someone gives you TV show? Oh right, you actually have to do that TV show!! No pressure! It may seem like you really, really want something but at the moment when it’s time to step up, it can be just as terrifying as failure would have been. There is also a huge responsibility that can come with some types of success – more money means more decisions in life, a huge following means you should conduct yourself properly because you are now a role model. It may seem like rich/famous is the way to go, but most days I’m pretty darn comfortable where I am. And I try to be patient for success knowing I might not be mature enough yet to handle it!

4. Success is a roller coaster.
Every business has ups and downs, but there is one phenomenon you should know about – good and bad usually comes lumped together with other good and bad. In other words, when good things happen, they usually happen in one big chunk, leading you to feel energized and high on life. A few weeks later, everything seems to be going wrong, you receive bad news, and traffic is down. Over time, I have adapted my emotions to minimize the swing as much as possible. I celebrate success, but I also know that that feeling is temporary, and I won’t always be at the top of the roller coaster. And I do the same when I’m down. I don’t let it get to me, knowing that I will be climbing back up another hill soon enough.

5. You have to define success for yourself.
Success means different things to different people, so how you define it is something you have to determine for yourself. I really struggled with this question. I knew money wasn’t my motivator (I waited more than a year to monetize my blog), and while I absolutely love the satisfaction of helping women with fashion, I always felt like my definition of success was helping women on a larger scale. I recently came up with this definition:

"Success (for me) is not a certain number of fans, or money, or people reached, or even getting my own TV show. It's being able to say that I changed fashion journalism. That I made it more accessible, more realistic, less intimating and something all of us feel welcome to enjoy. That I earned the respect for everyday women from the fashion industry." 

How do you define professional success? What are some lessons on success you've learned through the years?

You may also enjoy: "Let's Discuss: Creativity"


  1. i totally relate to #4..it is So true...when it rains it pours haha! have a wonderful weekend!
    xx Kelly

  2. J - I love it when you discuss topics like this on your blog.  I always get to know a little more about you while at the same time walk away with points to ponder.  I subscribe to the belief that success and excellence takes more than just luck...it takes hard work, dedication, passion and a gift.  You've got it all girl :)  XO - Marion

  3. jseverydayfashionApril 6, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Exactly lol! Have a great weekend!

  4. jseverydayfashionApril 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Thank you Marion! And I love that recipe for a success cocktail - it's equal parts hard work, dedication, passion and having a gift. :-)

  5. Love this, and #5 is definitely the one I struggle with the most.  It seems like no matter what path you're on, people will have a whole lot of assumptions about what should define "success" for you, and those assumptions seem to be pretty narrow. I'm in the middle of a PhD right now, and colleagues, advisors, etc. seem to have only one post-graduation option in mind that is worthy of the time put in, and it's unfortunately something I want nothing to do with.  So going against the grain of how others define success can be hard sometimes.  But if there's anything I've learned so far, it's that living someone else's dream can end up being your worst nightmare.  Thanks for this encouraging post!

  6. jseverydayfashionApril 6, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Aw, I'm so sorry to hear about that. It sounds like you know what you want though, which makes me think you are going to wind up just fine, and is really half the battle! Hang in there! :-)

  7. I really love this post!  I'm training to qualify for the Boston Marathon for the first time and was just thinking about these things this morning on my run!

  8. J! I heart your fashion & your philosophies on life! This struggle with success has been racing in my head recently too. I received a promotion at work and now the pendulum swings from coming from the top to swooping to the bottom of what comes what the new job. You rock girlie!!! Keep doing what you love and the success and glory will follow :-) Thx for being an inspiration to all of us women!!

  9. Success is having peace of mind,.....that that deed, doing that job, helping that teenager, donating that time or that  money, etc. was a Godly purpose for which I was intended. Those moments fill my whole being. Maybe this isn't a definition of success for most because there's nothing to see, or measure, in terms of materialistic rewards. However, there is  more joy in changing anothers life than buying more of anything. This I know from experience.

  10. jseverydayfashionApril 6, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    I love this Karen! Thinking about these points in terms of training for a marathon, almost all of them apply!

  11. jseverydayfashionApril 6, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    I think this is a great definition of success! In fact, I think you just described the "why" behind my own definition. Everyday, I get notes from women who say I've helped them, and I feel so honored to be spending my time doing that. I only have so much of me to go around though (and I'm already struggling to keep up with the style questions I receive), so I think how I can help the most # of women in my life is by making a bigger change in journalism overall, so that women can feel more welcome to enjoy fashion, feel empowered and feel better about themselves overall. Helping others comes in many different forms, I just want to do it on a huge scale. You can think of me as your friendly resident fashion lobbyist, lobbying on behalf of everyday women everywhere. ;-)

  12. What a great post! The "overnight success" one really is important to me. Sometimes I feel like I am working so hard whether at work or on my blog and it's getting me no where & I have to remind myself "Rome did not get created in a day". I also think you're right, enjoying the moment but not getting caught up in it too much is important. Everything can be taken away in a blink of an eye or it can get better. I once heard life is 30% action and 70% reaction to something. It's all about how you handle things. <3

  13. Totally agree with you Judy. Peace of mind is priceless.

  14. jseverydayfashionApril 7, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    Ooh, I love that! (30% action/70% reaction). I might just post that on my bulletin board! :-)

  15. Megan_LongLiveClassyApril 7, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    I definitely needed to read this today. :) Thanks so much for sharing your advice! It motivates me to keep on going!!

  16. Ahh! I feel so special! lol Thanks so much for the response! <3

  17. I've been out of town;  but when I read this  *w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l.*  post now, it just instantly made me feel energized............ i.e., you simply write so, SO well, you know!!

    In your sincere desire, J., to help the MOST women in your life............ (i.e., by making a bigger
    change~~on a larger scale~~in Fashion Journalism overall!!)............ what it honestly made me think of was Stage 7, (i.e., Generativity vs. Stagnation), of esteemed psychologist Erik Erikson's #8 Stages of Psychosocial Development............ (Source:  http://gonzerik.tripod.com/id12.html ): 

    **************************************************************************************************************"GENERATIVITY VS. STAGNATION, STAGE 7: 

    The seventh stage is that of middle adulthood.    It is hard to pin a time
    to it, but it would include the period during which we are actively
    involved in raising children.    For most people in our society, this would
    put it somewhere between the middle twenties and the late fifties.    Although the majority of people practice generativity by having and
    raising children, there are many other ways as well.    Erikson considers
    teaching, writing, invention, the arts and sciences, social activism,
    and generally contributing to the welfare of future generations to be
    generativity as well -- anything, in fact, that satisfies that old 'need
    to be needed.'
    Generativity is an extension of love into the future.    It is
    a concern for the next generation and all future generations.    If you are successful at this stage, you will have a capacity for caring that will serve you through the rest of your life." 

    Anyway, maybe your own genuine CONCERN, J., (i.e., as in the last excerpted paragraph, directly Above!!)............ *F.O.R.*............ "everyday women everywhere," is what brought to mind............ the very influential work of psychologist Erik Erikson, (1902 – 1994)!!

  18. jseverydayfashionApril 8, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    I love this Rosanna, thank you!! :-)

  19. jseverydayfashionApril 8, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Yay, so glad to hear you enjoyed it Megan! 

  20. wow! so inspiring!!! 
    well done! 

  21. Thanks for this. Its so hard to remember to keep living every day fully and not waiting for the day you've "made it".  I'm very guilty of doing that! Good luck on your own road to success!

  22. jseverydayfashionApril 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    You are very welcome. And good luck to you too Irene! :-)

  23. jseverydayfashionApril 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading.

  24. Thank you for this post, J!  I love all the points you shared, but 4 & 5 are particularly things that are sticking with me.  I've definitely felt how success can be a roller coaster with lulls and highs, and it's good to know it's not just me!  And #5 is something I've slowly been learning as I've blogged for longer now (coming up on a year in a few months!)  I've always admired how you've marched to the beat of your own drum in many ways...though, not in one of those ways that make people think you're crazy!  haha.