“There are countless places where we can learn about Success with Less. Mine came in Tanzania, Africa. In the Spring of 2015, I was invited on a journey to climb Mount Kilimanjaro; the highest mountain in Africa, with an elevation of 19,341 feet. By summer our trip was booked and on the eve of Thanksgiving I found myself at REI getting ready. I spent the following 10 months preparing.
To say my ‘press pause’ experience involved putting myself out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I was going to leave my family, take two weeks off work, travel to Africa, and climb a really tall mountain. I told myself the best thing I can do is be prepared. So, I trained physically and mentally. I followed conversations about Kilimanjaro on social media, and I asked my family, friends, and complete strangers their advice and opinions. The preparation paid off.
I spent six nights and seven days on the mountain. On September 18, 2016 I reached the top.
This ‘pause’ in my life continues to have a significant impact on me. This pause was a time of reflection. It was a time where I asked myself, ‘why are you doing this?’ I found the answer and the answer was about the life I want to live and the type of role model I want to be. This journey wasn’t just about the climb. It was about the preparation, putting myself out there, and seeing what happens.
Coming into 2017, I told myself that I want to have that feeling every year. I want to set-out to achieve something extreme, something that requires preparation, something I never thought I could do. And, I want to do it.
‘Don’t dream your life, live your dreams.'”
“I’ve pressed pause in every aspect of my life but made a conscious decision to start with my career. I was the person that strived to be the ‘hero’ at work–the go-to person everybody could rely on–for everything. I became the person I never wanted to become: the person who said yes to every new role and every new project presented to me, even if I wasn’t the best person for it or if it meant I’d be working long nights and weekends to get it done.
For over 15 years I juggled multiple roles and quickly jumped from one project to the next at the expense of my health and social life. In addition, this juggling and jumping was sending a horrible message to my team.
The Success with Less Career Companion challenged me to take a much needed pause and think about my natural strengths and how I could ensure I was leveraging them in every new assignment–work that added the most value to my company, my team and myself. It allowed me to define my ideal role, what it included, and most importantly, what it didn’t include.
My goal was simple: To discuss my Career Companion with my boss by early January and to have each member of my team create and discuss their own Career Companions with me by the end of January.
I felt empowered, energized and inspired. Empowered to define my career and ask for what I wanted. Energized by the unwavering support my manager provided. Inspired by my team who rose to the challenge and defined what they wanted out of their careers.
The result? As a team we created a new way of operating. We each have roles that leverage our strengths. We received additional staff and resources to help balance and advance our team’s vision.”
“My favorite chapter was “Success with Less in your Relationships”. I, like Karen have hung onto expired relationships way too long, many kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones. I have found myself working and working to improve relationships when the wiser choice would be to walk away, or to minimize time spent working on the relationship. We hear that people have relationship problems often, but what I love about Karen’s book, is her ability to actually give advise on how to improve the situation. I have never read such wonderful concrete advice on how to change your relationships. It really resonated to see relationships changing as a process, “Here’s the key: I didn’t end those relationships all at once”. I liked the idea of starting with one toxic relationship at a time. I also really liked the concrete advise “choose one person to add to your calendar, as you are phasing out two toxic relationships” in this way you are still continuing to expand your social circle. I have been practicing this since reading the chapter, and I have added some wonderful people to my calendar.
If you aren’t aware, my story is in Chapter 10, and when I read it for the first time I cried. I thought, if there is even one person in the world who can say these beautiful things about me I am blessed, and loved. I thought, I should never feel alone or sad when there is someone out there who can say such amazing things about me and my life. However, even though chapter 10 had an ending and to anyone reading the book, it may look like, wow she has it all figured out she is a success with less success story, the truth is most of the time I don’t feel like a success, I just feel like a very average woman living a very average, sometimes very difficult and sometimes very beautiful life. I am human and I am on a journey just like everyone else. Success with Less is process, and no one gets it right all the time. I have so many goals, and as I achieve them I am in the process of setting more goals. Remembering that life is a journey helps me to always be setting goals, and always working towards achievement of them. When I do achieve a goal, I celebrate, and then I get back to work on the next one. The celebration is important, because it is recognition of a goal achieved. It doesn’t need to be big, but it needs to acknowledge in some way that makes you happy, that you worked towards something and achieved what you set out to do. It is especially important, because some goals don’t get achieved, and celebration acknowledges that some are attained. Celebration makes it worth setting more goals even with the risk of failure. I believe when you are constantly learning and moving forward (even after failure) you will have fewer regrets when you reach the end.
Overall, this book is full of actual concrete advice on how to change your life. I love that there are actually ways listed to improve your relationships, improve your career and so much more. There are many books out there that can resonate with the way you may be feeling, but very few that actually walk you through the steps to make you feel better.”
“There were messages areas Karen calls out in her book that resonated with my own personal journey. As she was describing her early years of wanting to be the text-book child to adult who ‘did all the right things’ and never wanted to disappoint and never said ‘no’, I felt like I was reading about my own self. It’s very easy to exhaust yourself trying to please others and before you know it, you look back and realize you didn’t really do things to please yourself. The other message she shared which made me feel as if I was looking in a mirror was when she was describing her health issues and continued to ignore them only to realize that how she was living her life was part of what was making her so sick. I didn’t have the severity that Karen did but I had terrible stomach pains over the last several years of my career and they really got bad about a year ago. I had all sorts of tests done and nothing came up. My doctor suggested I go on a restrictive diet and give up gluten. Turns out I didn’t have a gluten issue. I love bread! I just had a stress issue. Once I changed that, my problem went away.
I have had to learn to put my ego aside and not think about what may sound good to others not living my life and think about what choosing to do or not do something makes me feel. I have had to learn to think about what my objectives really are and in the short and long term and let that be my guide for how I will act. I think I will always care about doing the ‘right thing’ to some extent. I think I am hard-wired that way. But I at least make the conscious choice to know if it’s the right thing for me.
When setting goals, I don’t get too far ahead of myself. It’s easy to psych yourself out if you are thinking about something really big that is in the distance and come up with 100 things that could go wrong (another personal challenge for me). So I try to look at my goals in shorter sprints (or chapters). This way they are realistic and I can get a more instant gratification for achieving the goal and also figuring out if the longer journey is still the direction I want to take. It’s a lot easier to shift course if you are taking smaller steps and evaluating along the way.