I was recently asked if the business I had created, owned and managed for 12 years had been a success and I found myself struggling to answer. The first answer that came to me was no. It never made much money. This realisation made me feel very uncomfortable because I loved my shop.
How could I see something that had brought me so much joy as a failure?
The shop was a great size. There was a play room in the corner to keep my young children occupied with books, toys, and lots of butcher’s paper to draw on. There was a small TV and video set up on the wall opposite a comfortable couch. Kids loved it, and parents loved it too.
Customers would drop in for a cuppa and a chat. Wonderful smells wafted from the shop kitchen as I was often baking bread or muffins. At Christmas time, the aroma of fruit cakes filled the shop. In the colder months, the evening meal would often be simmering away in the slow cooker.
My children made new friends. My daughter started drama classes with a beautiful lady across the road. 15 years later she is now a qualified drama teacher herself and is still taking dramas classes with the beautiful lady across the road.
I experienced the joy of following my heart.
Even when times were emotionally challenging, I found comfort in knowing I was doing something I loved. I met a lot of beautiful people across all ages. I saw children grow up and get their driver’s license. I was invited to customers’ weddings. I felt the joy of holding a customer’s new born child. To this day, I still have customers commenting on the shop.
This got me thinking.
What makes something a success or a failure?
The Oxford Living Dictionary defines success as ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’. It defines failure as a ‘lack of success’. Was it possible that the shop was both a success and a failure at the same time? From a financial perspective, the shop was a failure. It racked up debts that led to a marriage separation, and the sale of our home. From a personal perspective it was a resounding success, and here are my top three reasons as to why.
1. I Followed My Heart
From the moment I had the idea of opening the shop there was no stopping me. I knew I had to do it.
Not doing it
wasn’t an option.
Jeff Sheets, a professor at Brigham Young University gave a talk at BYU to get students to think about what career they would choose if money was no object, if they could choose to do whatever they want. “What is it that drives you, what do you care about, what do you love, what’s deep in your heart?” he asked of his students. “What were you brought on this earth to do? Do it. Become that person.” 
When you follow your heart you open yourself up to a beautiful flow of energy. The power of this energy can carry your through tough times. It can keep the smile on your face as you work through your day. It is at the root of miracles that occur on a daily basis.
2. I Had Fun
Each day was a new adventure for me. I could bake some bread, chat with the delivery guys and sales reps, have a coffee with a customer, place orders for more stock, or research a customer’s query. The variety of daily life in the shop excited me. I felt energised and mentally alive, and I slept very well.
It doesn’t take science to just know that having fun
can make you feel good and help you relax.
According to one study carried out by Kuiper and Martin in 1998, ‘individuals who laughed less had more negative emotions when compared to those who laughed more. In contrast, those who laughed more showed fewer negative feelings even when stressful situations increased’.
Maybe my nanna was onto something when she said “laughter is the best medicine”.
3. I Focused on the Journey
Life really is about the journey. The future of the shop lay in the what happened each and every day. Being present allowed me to connect with customers, and it allowed the kids to connect with the kid inside me.
When I was present in the moment I was happy.
A Harvard study found that we spend almost 50% of our time thinking about the past and future, instead of focusing on the present, which leads to increased unhappiness. 
Each day we wake up to a new beginning. This is a beautiful thing. Each day we wake up with a choice. This is a powerful thing. It’s all about perspective, and that choice belongs to each one of us.
Success or failure … what perspective will you choose today?
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