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Your Definition of Success

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What is your definition of success? Kathy Casey sure had it. She had an extremely high-profile job as Vice President/General Manager at the Kellogg Company, responsible for a $2 billion budget and a team of hundreds. She traveled more than 100,000 miles a year. She was visible and rac­ing on the fast track.

But something wasn’t right.

“Unconsciously, I’d started making choices to put my career first,” she said. “I missed my Grandma’s funeral for a meeting and worked to the point that it impacted my health and my relationships with those that I love. I was focused on chasing the next job, the next title, the next challenge. It’s an addiction.”

She missed her son’s first birthday, celebrating it instead on a different day. She told herself it didn’t really matter. He was a baby and he wouldn’t know the difference. But she did.

“I started to not like who I saw in the mirror,” she said.

She’d always been poised for that kind of success. Her mother used to joke that Kathy, the middle child, started working on her resume when she was six. She started counting the lunch money in kindergarten, winning the spelling bee, getting involved in student government, and being editor-in-chief of the school paper.

That kind of Type A mindset made her a natural for the executive ranks, but once she was in them, something was very wrong. The sense that there was so much more to life than what she was experiencing led her to do something drastic.

“At some point, I recognized I was starting to resent other peoples’ lives. I was envious of people who had time for themselves and their families. I wanted more freedom and flexibility.”

She reset.

She said no to two promotions that required extensive commuting or relocation. She requested a less demanding assignment that reduced her stress and gave her more time at home.

She is still a VP of Sales for Kellogg, but her job does not carry nearly the same responsibility or stature.

“Now my role is smaller in scope. It was a decision that said I no longer wanted a bigger job.”

She took herself off the fast track.

“I stopped chasing the rainbow with the missing pot of gold,” she said.“What is interesting is that, with a redefined set of life boundaries, I am doing some of my best work yet.”

And she likes who she is.

“What matters to me now is that I am there when people need me,” she said.

When my mom and dad died, Kathy made an effort to call me. Every single day.

“I am significantly happier and I am more present in my daily life,” she told me. “I have more energy to give back. I think that a lot of people think, ‘One more job, one more raise, one more level — then I’ll get there. Then I’ll be happy.’ But you are working more and having more stress and your life isn’t any richer because of it.”

The choices you make about how you spend your time and energy are choices with real consequences.

“If it feels bad, you probably made the wrong decision. Redefine success,” she said.


Work-Life Reset  This week, enjoy excerpts from best-selling, Oprah-featured author Fawn Germer’s new book,    Work-Life Reset, which shows how to reset to end what’s not working in your life. 

 Order inspiring author and keynote speaker Fawn Germer’s new book, Work-Life Reset here.

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