How Do You Define Success?

Erica Sara in her jewelry studio

How do you define success and at what length will you go to achieve it?

This is me in my studio, where I spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of my time alone. Cutting, soldering, engraving. It’s lonely and it’s taken a toll on my mental health. So much so that I’ve taken a step back to redefine what success means to me.

Once upon a time, it was a financially lucrative company that was known around the world, could support my family, keep us comfortable and afford us extravagant family vacations. A nicer home on the lake, a boat club membership. A fancy home gym and a personal trainer. These are all the things I was working towards. It meant spending time alone in my studio all day, working early mornings before the kids woke and late nights after I put them to bed.

Then my grandmother passed away. My dad had two major surgeries and battled cancer. Spending time with the people I love became my definition of success and it didn’t have to be on a boat, in a lake house, or on a fancy vacation. People to love. People who love me.

Yesterday, a famous millionaire posted that in order to reach her goals she experienced isolation. She encouraged women to embrace it. I’m no millionaire, nor am I known by millions around the world as an authority on success. But I’m going to be bold and call her bullshit. Don’t believe me? Look up Harvard’s 85 year, multi generational study on happiness. Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. It’s not career achievement, money, exercise or a healthy diet. The most consistent finding of the study is that positive relationships and community keep us happier, healthier and help us live longer. Period.

There’s nothing wrong with taking time to be with just you. But if you’re working towards your goal and feeling lonely, don’t just accept that as part of the game. Text a friend to invite them to work over coffee or for a walk. Be with people. Hug them. Get that oxytocin hit. In a world where we spend more time on social media than in physical social gatherings, and the rates of depression and suicide are on the rise, more isolation shouldn’t be the goal. And certainly not in the name of “success.”