Thursday, April 9, 2015

Defining Success

How do you define success?

I thought it was about winning – getting what I wanted.  Achieving the sought-after goal! Anything less meant there was a problem: my effort wasn’t good enough. 
The perfect piece of art for the perfect house -
wherever that may be

I wasn’t good enough.

Of course I believe in trying your hardest and teaching my kids that winning isn’t everything.

“What counts is trying your best, not whether you win or lose!”

I believe that but if I “lose” I still feel that disappointment in the pit of my stomach.  I replay the situation over and over in my head to see if there was something I could have done differently to alter the outcome. 

I wonder if I really did leave it all on the table, exhausting all efforts, questioning, replaying, regretting.

Finally I have come to the realization that it really isn’t about getting what I want or achieving the goal but what I have done to get there.  (Yeah, I know, you would think I could have learned this years ago but I can be a little hard-headed.)

It’s silly how I got to this realization, really, but I see success very differently now. 

We are in the midst of selling our two-story house in order to move to a one-story.  Robert gets his own room, Richard doesn’t have increased back pain due to the stairs and I get less exercise.

Everybody wins.

The sale of our house has one more hurdle: the appraisal.  We have a buyer but don’t want the deal to fall through with a low appraisal and have to start over.  This offer is allowing us a “rent back” which means we don’t have to move twice.  A huge benefit and I am beyond grateful. We don’t want to rent our own house forever so we are on the search for a new one.

We found one we fell in love with and all signs pointed to it being OUR house. We visited it three times not to convince ourselves of its perfection but to spend time in the house. To pick out Robert’s room and our offices and to relish the extra half bath (joy!) and sit in the living room.

Our living room.  

Richard and I visually placed all of our furniture and artwork throughout this lovely home.  A piece of art that Richard won while on a cruise had the colors of the house in it. It was perfect for the front entry.

We placed an offer on the house, knowing our own house was still in the contingency period but it was a strong offer. Our agent made it clear we were within days of clearing all contingencies. 

There is absolutely nothing more we could have done to get this house.

The same day we were waiting for our offer to be reviewed our house was being appraised.

(The Universe has a sick sense of humor.)

We did everything possible to make our house look its best. I know a clean house and freshly cut grass shouldn’t translate into extra dollars but appraisers are human too.  First impressions do make a difference. 

After the appraisal and while we waited to hear about the offer I realized that everything was now out of our hands.  We had done everything we possibly could to get the dream house and to get the highest appraisal possible. Everything.  Even I couldn’t think of one more thing that we could have done. 

I realized that no matter the outcome, I could feel good about our efforts and could call this a success.  Even if we didn’t get the house or get as much for our house.

We had left everything on the table.

When we got the news today that we did not get the house we wanted I did not feel regret.  Not one bit.  It was disappointing, for sure, but I knew we did our best and knew that our best was good enough.

For a reason not yet known to us, that house was not meant to be ours.  As much as everything seemed perfect, there is something else out there for us. (We are still waiting on the appraisal.)

Of this I am sure: our best efforts were good enough. 

This is a lesson I have been trying to learn while caregiving because the feeling of my efforts not being good enough have a way of eating at me.  Mom died – was there some treatment we could have found to cure her? Dad died – should we have tried dialysis even after he expressly stated “no dialysis”?  I grappled with these thoughts after each one died and finally put those thoughts to rest.

With caregiving, it is difficult to define winning. There isn’t really a “winning” outcome with caregiving. Regret and guilt are often part of the caregiving experience.

I wondered if I would question myself once Robert’s time came.  I don’t want to, I don’t want any regrets. How could I declare my caring for him a win if he dies? I want to say I left everything on the table.

Finally, I made the connection.  There is nothing to win in caregiving.  It is all about effort. It is about leaving it all on the table.  

We did everything possible to get that lovely house and we have done everything possible to keep Robert healthy, happy and, yes, even excellent. 

That is how I define success. 

How do you define success?

1 comment:

e_journeys said...

I LOVE this, Trish! Yes, there are so many gray areas and multiple perspectives to deal with. Knowing that one has done one's best, with the unique knowledge and experiences at our disposal, is the way to a clear conscience. And that clear conscience is priceless.

All the juggling that you've been doing makes my head spin. Given all that, I would define success as the ability to be coherent. :-) (((Hugs))) to you all and hopes for your dream house!