I’m Naomi and I’m 25 years old and grew up in Cambridge, UK. I run an online business and am happiest when I’m in the sunshine, exercising or spending time with people who make me laugh! Success has meant so many different things to me throughout my life, and to put it into context I have to take you back a bit…
Developing really bad acne at age 9 is where my mental health story and my relationship with success began. Prior to this I was a very happy, confident, outgoing little girl and this knocked all my confidence and self esteem. I can still remember standing in the cloakroom at school and a boy telling me he could draw a dot to dot on my face!
My sisters used to promise me that by the time I hit secondary school, my bad skin would be over and done with just whilst everyone else’s teenage spotty skin was starting! This didn’t happen however, and I struggled with it until I was 17 when I finally went on Roaccutane. Throughout my secondary school years my view of success and my ‘I’ll be happy when…’ philosophy really started. I used to tell myself “I’ll be happy when I’ve got clear skin like everyone else” and this then developed into “I’ll be happy when I’ve finished my exams”, “I’ll be happy when it’s the summer holidays”… I used to be so excited about leaving school and being a ‘successful’ adult, and now I wish I could a. Apologise to my 12 year old self, and b. Tell her to just enjoy everything!!
After my Roaccutane treatment, I had beautifully clear skin… but of course by this point this belief I had was so deeply ingrained in me there were of course 1000 other things I needed to achieve or be successful at to achieve ‘happiness’. I think leaving school really makes you think about what success means. Success to me used to mean, quite simply, finding whatever it is that you wanted to do, and doing it. I had never known what I really wanted to do, other than be ‘happy’ when… so I spent a good 3 years trying to work it out.
At age 21, I started an online business which changed everything for me. I was introduced to the world of self development and threw myself in. Success then became about my business, I had huge business goals I wanted to meet, which of course aligned with… I’ll be happy when I hit that. I put myself under huge pressure to achieve these goals as quickly as possible. Along the way I sometimes hit my goals and at other times I didn’t, and when I did, of course that ‘happy’ was extended to the next goal. This meant I was still trying to navigate life whilst waiting for that circumstantial happy ending. I wondered for a while if I was suffering from depression but could never work out why I was also so excited for the future (why wouldn’t you be when future = happy, but the now doesn’t), I then discovered it was actually anxiety that came and went and I hadn’t figured out how to manage it. As soon as I discovered this it made a whole lot of sense, I actually felt relieved, and I got to work on managing it, which I still do to this day.
I always knew that happiness was internal, and no circumstance was ever going to hit a switch - I just didn’t know how to get there. I started by practicing gratitude everyday, writing down 9/10 things I was grateful for. My health was always number 1 and I started investing in that too. I joined exercise classes just over a year ago and these changed everything for me too. Now, every time I step out of the gym feeling stronger I feel mentally stronger too. This whole transition also helped me find my ‘happy now’ philosophy. Changing the way I viewed everything in my life changed how I felt about it too. Realising that all we really have in life is right now, made me become so aware of how I viewed the present. Through practicing gratitude, it makes you look at your day and what made me happy, so I really worked out what made me feel good and what didn’t, and I committed to doing more of what did and less of what didn’t.
I still have huge goals, and always will. Whilst I’ll always think goals are important, what’s more important is our relationship with them. If you base happiness on whatever your definition of success is, you risk putting yourself under huge pressure to chase something which you could create and have right now.
Through my business I now get to help and encourage so many people to grow in confidence, achieve things they never thought possible and be watch them grow into their power which is the most fulfilling part of what I do - despite whether or not I’m fulfilling my own successes, watching others fulfil theirs is amazing. I now live every single day to the full and enjoy it for what it is. If I’m hit with any kind of anxiety, or have a bad day, my brain automatically looks for what I’m grateful for. The best part is every day I wake up I know it’s going to be amazing, purely from training myself to automatically choose what I focus on. Make the ordinary and mundane extraordinary and everything changes.
If you can find the happiness in everyday between where you are and where you want to be, learn to love the process and the journey along the way, then to me that’s a huge success.