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How do you define success?

How do you know if you "made it?"

If we can take anything away from the suicide of Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain, there is no such thing as "making it."

What's interesting, is they were both high profile public figures that many of us looked up to, were inspired by, and entertained. Because of their "klout" and expertise, many would assume they made it because they were part of the 1 percent. 

Happiness and Money

However, what's interesting, is from a recent study in the article I read last week on happiness, it stated that generally people making approximately $50,000 a year were, on average, a 5 out of 10 on the happiness scale. The study made an assumption that if you double your salary to $100,000, then your happiness level should be 10 out of 10, right? This part of the article debunked that notion. 

If anything it found that a majority of us really only need to make somewhere around $70,000 where we become truly happy - we have enough responsibility in our jobs that we aren't burned out or overworked, have just enough money to live within our means and have fun, and at the same time don't' have the pressure to maintain and keep up a lavish lifestyle. 

At the time of Kate Spade's death, she had sold her brand in 2006 and was working on launching a new brand. 

Anthony Bourdain was in the middle of filming season 12 of Parts Unknown in France. 

Both cases, we again assume they were doing "what they loved" and everything was fine.

What really upsets and shakes me, is there was a story deep down inside them that they were not telling us (or we weren't seeing). Something they were doing, something they experienced, or a pressure too big to manage that in their mind could only be removed with one option: taking their own life. 

The reason I am sharing my feelings is that this really shocks me. 

Entrepreneurship is Lonely

When Courtney Stone O'Connell and I heard the news of Kate Spade, one of Courtney's first statements was "Wow, entrepreneurship really is a lonely journey." 

True or not, that is the first time I have heard Courtney say that aloud - even though I hear this, feel this, and experience this since October 2014. 

Whether it is working for yourself or for an organization making $35,000 a year or $250,000 a year, we all have pressures and demands that pull at us - family, relationships, work, finances, health, etc. 

Let's not get it twisted in the age of social media - it's not all rainbows and butterflies for me working for myself. 

I have video journals on my phone that I have not posted from the last three years where I am breaking down - I'm confused and lost, and beating up on myself. 

There are times I have to get creative with my finances - tough conversations Courtney and I have to have on our expenses and life goals. Tough conversations I have to have with current and potential clients. Constant rejection and misunderstanding of what I do. 

In fact, just this morning at 6:30 a.m. after getting paid three invoices I was waiting on in May, I paid my contractors and my business and personal bills first. All other money goes into business. I have learned to live off of less than $100 a month in my personal account over the last 18 months so I can reinvest in my business, people, and goals that Courtney and I have of traveling. 

What I am getting at, is this thing called life isn't easy. 

Take Care of Yourself

There is no such thing as success, making it or being "famous." However, I do believe that if you can find something (big or small, high-impact or not) where you thrive, feel challenged most days, and feel invincible while doing it, do more of that. 

However, take care of yourself first. 

Speak up. Seek help. 

Don't paint the picture that everything is great if deep down inside it's not. You have no one to impress but yourself because your life is the most important thing you have. 

RIP Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. 

This post is written by The Niche Movement founder Kevin O'Connell and cross-posted from The Niche Movement, a community of young professionals helping you find the work you love. The Niche Movement is a collaborating partner with Punch-In.

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Comment by Katie Burger on July 17, 2018 at 3:10pm

Thanks for posting this! Taking care of yourself is number 1, and so so important...and something to continuously work on incorporating into your daily routine. It was so critical for me to finally realize that we each define our own successes, this is something I try to remember each day...

Comment by Adrienne Kleinman on July 13, 2018 at 5:20am

Thank you for sharing this, Tracy. It is so important that we continue to openly discuss depression and in doing so remove the stigma associated with it. Also, realizing that success can come in all different forms and that there is not a single correct way to be "happy." We are all here together on this planet doing the best we can with what we have been given for the time we are here. 

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