Business, Home, Redefining Success

A New Definition of Success

When I started my interior design business 20+ years ago, I was hellbent on becoming “successful.” 

You may be thinking, well duh… no one starts a business to be UNsuccessful, right? 

But here’s the thing: Simply making enough money to support my family wasn’t enough.

In order to feel truly successful — and perhaps most important, in order for other people to believe I was successful — I was convinced I needed to have it ALL.

💰 The high-profile, high-paying clients
📷 The magazine covers
🥂 Invitations to “it” parties with the “in” crowd
🛋 A furniture line
📕 A book deal

Surely, hitting all of these little rungs on the traditional Interior Design Success Ladder would be tangible proof that I’d “made it,” right? After all, it’s what all the designers I admired were doing.

Now to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with putting all of this on your vision board. If you’re like many of the creatives I’ve coached over the years, there are probably a lot of things on this list you’d love to achieve too. 

The problem is, I believed that if I worked hard enough — if I sacrificed dance recitals, family dinners, and nights & weekends for just a few more years — then I could check all of these off my list and I would have all the money I needed and I would finally feel successful. 

Then and only then could I stop working so hard, reclaim my weekends, and actually enjoy my life. 

A whole lotta privilege and hard work allowed me to cross off most of the things on my #goals list. I certainly had more than enough “proof” that I was a success, from the press clippings and bank statements, to the prestigious speaking engagements I had under my belt.

To everyone else, it appeared I’d arrived. But even though I had achieved our culture’s checklist definition of success, I felt anything but.

Instead, you know how I felt?

Mentally drained.
Like a shitty mom, a shitty wife, and a shitty friend and daughter.

The worst part was, I knew I had to keep hustling in order to maintain the success I’d achieved. And that made me so damn tired.

“I got here,” I’d think to myself. “I did it… now what about my rest!? My promised worry-free existence? My laptop lifestyle?”

You see, that’s what no one tells you about success. The big, fat mythical promise that keeps us all hustling, chasing, and constantly pushing aside the things we claim matter most.

Becoming successful is one thing.
Staying there is a whole other thing.

“Success” is not a magical state of being where everything is suddenly perfect.

It’s a machine you have to keep feeding, often at the expense of everything else.

I’m not trying to ambush your ambition; quite the opposite, actually.

I hope to inspire you to create a more enjoyable and more achievable definition of success than I did when I first started. That requires taking off those rose-colored glasses society put on your face before you could fully form your own vision.

Like I tell the members inside DesignYou, my 12-month coaching program for creatives…

I want you to have everything you want — just make sure you actually want it first.

That means redefining success on your terms. 

In next week’s post, I’ll share the 5 key things I’m focusing on to redefine success in my own life and business. 

I hope it’ll inspire you to question your current vision and make sure it’s true to you — not just what others expect of you.

Oh, and by the way — if this post resonated with you and you’re ready for some support as you redefine what success looks like in your business, the doors to DesignYou are open. We’d love to have you inside and guide you toward designing a business that helps you create health, wealth, and joy.


Hi! I'm Tobi


I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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