defining your own success

Have you figured out what success looks like for you and your life? It’s likely different from other women around you, or maybe you aren’t sure what it should look like. Let’s talk about it!

In this episode of Clocking In, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day by discussing the importance of cheering on other women, especially when their idea of success differs from our own! Listen in as I share how my idea of success has changed over the years, how I’ve come to appreciate where other women are in their lives, and how you can start cheering for others!

Clocking In with Haylee Gaffin is produced and brought to you by Gaffin Creative, a podcast production company for creative entrepreneurs. Learn more about our services at Gaffincreative.com, plus you’ll also find resources, show notes, and more for the Clocking In Podcast.

Review the Show Notes:

What We’ll Cover in Today’s Episode (1:40)

Defining what success looks like to you. (2:04)

Exercise: Define Your Success (3:05)
1. What do you want right now?
2. What do I want to do or where do I want to be in one year?
3. What is one thing you can do over the next three months to move you towards that goal?
4. What do you want in 5 Years?

Allowing your idea of success to change when it needs to or when you want it to. (4:07)

My Career Background (4:41)

My Current Idea of Success (7:16)

Stop Fighting for the Approval of Others (7:50)

Stop Shaming Women Who Define their Success Differently (9:13)

Cheering on Women in Every Stage of their Lives (9:51)

Three Women I’m cheering for This Week (13:04)
Natalie Franke
My Step Sister, Jenna
Dylan of Water Bear Clay Company


Review the Transcript:

Hey y’all, before I start this episode, I want to thank you all so much for the support in this new podcast endeavor of mine. Seeing so many wonderful people share this show and cheer me on, brought me so much inspiration, that I decided to throw out my own planned content for this week and share about something that’s really important to me—defining your own success while cheering for other women.

Hey y’all. Welcome to the Clocking In Podcast, the podcast for entrepreneurs and professionals making their way in the working world.

I’m your host, Haylee Gaffin! 

This podcast is produced and brought to you by Gaffin Creative, a podcast production company for creative entrepreneurs. Learn more about our services at Gaffincreative.com, plus you’ll also find resources, show notes, and more for the Clocking In Podcast.

So, let’s clock in and get to work.

Today, March 8th is international women’s day. As a woman, it’s important to me that we’re cheering for the success of other women—but more importantly, the success they’ve defined for themselves.

Oftentimes I feel like we let others decide what success should look like: other women, leaders in our community or industry, our family and friends, but truthfully, we should be able to define what success looks like for ourselves. It does not have to match everyone else’s.

The reality is, we should cheer for each other through every stage of our lives, but also accept what we’re cheering for and why we’re cheering for it.

In today’s episode, I want to share about a few thing that are weighing heavy on my heart on this international women’s day:

  • Defining what success looks like to you.
  • Allowing your idea of success to change when it needs to or when you want it to.
  • Stop fighting for the approval of others
  • Cheering on women in every stage of their lives.

Let’s talk about Defining What Success Looks Like for YOU.

Your success can look however you want it to. I think we get so caught up in the idea that we need to define success based on where other people are. 

Let’s take a few ideas of what success could look like for different people:

  • Success could mean being the CEO of a big company
  • Success could mean being a stay at home mom and raising the next generation of your family.
  • Success could mean working a steady job and paying the bills on time.
  • Success could mean pursuing a hobby for the sake of building a skillset

Success is so different for everyone. So what does it mean to you? 

Consider what you’re doing in your life right now—are you happy? That’s success. Even if it’s not your long term goal, success can just mean happiness.

But if you have other goals and dreams you want to pursue, consider why you want them. Are they your idea? 

I’m a huge fan of having something to work towards, as long as it’s what you want.

I have an exercise for you. Take out a piece of paper, because I’m about to ask you a few questions:

  1. What do I want right now?

Think about it. Are you doing something that makes you happy? If not, what would?

  1. What do I want in 1 year?

Maybe it’s exactly what you’re doing now, maybe it’s the completed opposite. Either way, I want you to write it down and think about why you want it. Is it your idea or is based on someone else’s idea of success? Then I want you to think of one thing you can do over the next three months to move you towards that goal.

  1. What do I want in 5 years?

What does that look like for you? I don’t always love to plan that far in advance, but consider this: what you’re defining as success right now, may not be the success you want for yourself in 5 years, and that’s where we dive into pivoting your idea of success.

Now, let’s talk about how success can look different in every stage of life. Let me expand on this a little. My idea of success has changed so much over the last few years and I know it will continue to change. I don’t mean that I’ve come to realize that any of my thoughts around success were wrong, but they’ve just changed so much based on where I am in life at the time and what my goals were.

I want to share a little background on my career to give you an idea of what this looked like for me when it comes to success in work:

As a 22 year old fresh out of college, my idea of success was working my way up the corporate ladder to becoming an Account Executive at a prestigious ad agency in New York City. That’s right—I had it in my head that the only way to succeed in my profession was to make the big move out of Chattanooga, get a dream job in the advertising world, and write a commercial for the super bowl. That dream was just 6 years ago and I no longer have a dream of writing a super bowl commercial.

That idea of success is what most advertising grads envision for themselves when they graduate college. I could look back now and be upset with myself that I didn’t make it. I didn’t even make it in the ad agency world. I didn’t climb that corporate ladder. I failed. 

BUT guess what, I didn’t. That type of success and career doesn’t fit with my life. It’s not what I want. I realized soon into my career that ad agency life wasn’t for me. That’s fine. It is for some people. I loved it for the few years I did it, but my wants and needs in a career changed. I didn’t want to move to New York, I didn’t want to move out of my small town outside of Chattanooga. Which meant my idea of success changed.

That’s what I love about life—we can change our end goal at any time. Our success doesn’t have to be defined by a career, or a family, or money or education, or anything else. Our success can be defined by whatever it is that we want.

When I left the agency world to pursue a contractor role, I LOVED it. And I still love it. I still consider myself a contractor as a business owner.

I’m now an entrepreneur with a photography studio and podcast production company, and that only recently became a reality… heck that wasn’t a goal of mine two years ago. I remember going to speak to a class of college students about  career in agency life and telling them that I’d never be a freelancer or contractor because I didn’t want to leave the consistency of a 9-5. Well, here I am, doing it. Whoops. Again, the definition of success can change.

My idea of success for the last 6 years has been based in my work and my career. And within my work and career, success was and still is, defined by building up my clients. Making their goals a reality and finding them success. My goals now include more than they used to. 

My idea of success for me is financial freedom, spending time with and traveling with my husband, flexibility in my job, and enjoying what I do every single day.

What does that mean now? I’m finding myself pivoting in understanding what success looks like. For me, for you, for anyone.

We need to stop comparing ourselves to the success of others. 

I know, we’ve all heard this before. Your idols or the people who inspire you, they shouldn’t define your success and they shouldn’t be your definition of success. They don’t live your life.

Additionally, we need to stop trying to succeed for the approval of others. Why do we do this? I am probably as guilty as anyone else for doing this. For the longest time, I wanted people to be proud of me…I wanted to show that I was successful, but… by who’s definition was I successful?

Looking back, sure I was moving in the direction I wanted, but I was burning myself out trying to do what I thought I was supposed to do in a career. Now, I strive for the success that I want in my life in the moment that I’m living it. 

One day, that success could move away from my career and into growing a family. That will be my success in that time of my life. Many of my friends are building beautiful families. They’re having and adopting children to make the life they want a reality. 

That’s not my success right now, BUT I can cheer for them. I can be happy for them.

And most importantly, and a thing that has bothered so much as a current professional career woman, is that I can stop shaming women who define their success different from me.

I can stop shaming all women. Stop shaming the ones who are choosing their career right now, stop shaming the ones who are choosing to grow a family right now, and stop shaming the ones that are doing both or neither…. Because friends their definition of success does not have to reflect your definition of success. And your definition of success does not have to reflect everyone else’s.

So, how can we cheer for other people based on their idea of success? Let’s start by asking them.

How I can cheer for you this year? This month? This week?

This year, I joined a mastermind led by Laylee Emadi, and I am actually getting so many things out of this mastermind than I ever imagined. In this mastermind, I’m surrounded by 7 successful women.

You know what the best part is? We all have different goals. Not a single person in our mastermind is heading in the exact same direction as another. 

But we’re able to cheer each other on for each of our own successes. 

Since the mastermind started, I’ve been able to cheer for each woman in a different way. I’m cheering for the newly engage women getting marry the man of her dreams, I’m getting to cheer for the mom who is building her business to support her family, I’m cheering for the educator who is hitting her goals, I’m cheering for the business owner who is building her business off of social media, and so much more. 

Think of three women you can cheer for this week. Ask them how you can cheer for them, then do it.

Join me today and the rest of this year in cheering for women. Let’s cheer for their definition of success especially when it doesn’t align with our own. So now that you’ve listened to this episode, I hope that you’ll define your own success, allow your idea of success to change as it needs to, stop fighting for the approval for others, and start cheering for women in any and every stage of their life.

Let’s stop criticizing and start cheering.

This has been another episode of the Clocking In Podcast. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at gaffincreative.com. Thank you so much for your listenership and support! If you loved this episode, I’d be so honored if you’d leave me a review in the Apple Podcast App. Until next time, I’m your host, Haylee Gaffin, clocking out.

So, I asked you to pick three women to cheer for this week. I want to start doing this every week. Here are the women I’m cheering for in my life this week:

One, I want to cheer for my dear friend natalie Franke, who recently announced her first book, Built to Belong. Over the last year, Natalie has used her platform to collaborate and lift up other entrepreneurs in her tshirt shop. Today, she is launching her 8th collaboration and this one is special! It’s celebrating women for international women’s day! Make sure you head over to shopnataliefranke.com to grab your shirt, plus check out her other items in the shop that promote community over competition and cheering others on!

Second, I want to cheer for my step sister, Jenna. Six months ago, Jenna became a new mom to the sweetest twin girls that just make you want a couple of your own. Jenna faced some of the hardest days after delivery Kennedy and Kendall and showed so much strength through what I can only imagine to be the toughest season of her life. The twins spent weeks in the ICU, followed by the youngest, Kendall, having to face heart surgery. After spending months traveling back and forth to the hospital, worrying about their sweet girl, while taking care of the other, Jenna and Michael were able to bring their girls home and now have two happy, healthy babies. That is strength. That is success. 

I also want to cheer for my friend Dylan, who took her hobby of creating clay earrings and built them into a successful business, Water Bear Clay Company. If you see me in almost any of my branding images, they likely feature earrings from Dylan’s shop. She has so much talent and I’ll always cheer for what she’s doing. 

Now, I’d love to hear you shout out your three women over on Instagram stories today! Make sure to tag me so I can see them and always know that I’m cheering for you.

Happy International Women’s Day!