A huge thank you to Meg Cowley who was featured in Episode 42 of the podcast, for this inspiring post on what success and joy mean to her!

Defining success; chasing joy

What is success to you? Could you answer that, right now? Picture it; what does your success look like? Because for each of us, it’s different. Success changes over time too, as we grow.

My definition of success has never changed quite so much as when I became a mother. It’s safe to say, my entire world changed – how about you, fellow writer parents?

Before I had my son, I could happily (and joyously selfishly!) work seven days a week if I chose. Travel the world with my husband. Do anything, actually.(Hey, remember when you could just leave the house by…. picking up your keys and walking out? Without the baby, the pram, the bags, and the kitchen sink? Good times..!)

Now, a new balance is required; and compromise. Now my world revolves around this tiny person, and it’s my job to fit into someone else’s schedule and needs.

One thing that hasn’t changed for me though, is that for me, success is joy.

I first heard those three words at my graduation speech, spoken by master craftsman Peter Layton, and they struck a chord. They put into words what I’d been striving to realise; and what I now live in every day where I can (though I give myself grace at 3am, when no one is sleeping, and I want to scream with the baby!).

What do I mean by that – success is joy? If you love your life – whether that’s being a full time parents, doing your job, being a full time author, or perhaps something else – you’re winning.

Seeking joy in everything I do has become the key way that I can increase my own day to day happiness. Moreover, by cultivating an appreciation for everything in life, I achieve more highly too.

What makes me joyful? It’s the huge things; my family, husband, little boy. Having a nice, safe house to live in. It’s the little things; sliding into a freshly washed bed, sleepy baby cuddles, feeling the sun and wind upon my face. And everything in-between.

What makes you joyful?

Sometimes, it is difficult to stop and recognise our successes. We become so goal orientated, and the goalposts of our success keep hopping away, sometimes faster than we can catch them. We forget to stop, turn, and look back. See how far we have climbed, how much we have achieved (and yes, some days, just getting showered and dressed totally counts).

Living like that means, if you are anything like me, that you never truly stop to congratulate yourself. You push harder and harder. You forgive yourself less, and punish yourself if you cannot meet your ever growing goals.

So stop. Turn around. Look how far you’ve come. Congratulate yourself – and mean it.

If we can learn to separate our goals from our successes, it means we can set healthy goals to strive for, but also recognise our wins, and find joy in our achievements.

So success can be found by appreciating all the joys and blessings of life. It can be found by being mindful about our journeys. But what are we missing? One important piece. Ourselves.

One of the other critical tenets of success for me is self care. I measure it by self-actualisation, a concept you will recognise if you are familiar with Abraham Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs pyramid. At the base; basic physiological needs like food, warmth, shelter, water. Moving up, security, belonging & love, esteem. At the top, self actualisation.

Success is climbing that pyramid; and it can be a useful measure of our current state. Certainly as a new parent, self care is essential; to be your best parent, you must be your best self.

Before I entered motherhood, I stood proudly at the top of that pyramid. I had it all; all the blessings I needed in life to be truly happy. When I entered motherhood (the hellish trenches of the early newborn days, anyone?), I found myself right back at the bottom. Now I’m climbing again, back to the top, inch by inch. Making sure that I meet those all important needs on the way up, as I journey to fulfilling my higher purpose in life once more.

What is your bigger picture? It’s helpful to imagine the whole picture; all the aspects of your success in one, as if you have met them. It can be easier to seek what you already dream to live.

For me; I look after myself (appearance, fitness, hygiene, nutrition, relationships, career fulfilment, etc) well. I am the best mother and wife I can be. I provide financially and emotionally for my family. I chase my ambitions to become a successful author – in ten years, I want to earn seven figures a year, and I’m working towards that even if I don’t reach it. I recognise and acknowledge my successes, from a book I’ve finished writing, to a wonderful day spent with family. I appreciate life’s many blessings.

Success isn’t easy, by any way you measure it. But it is precious, and it is joyful. Whatever success is to you, chase it, and when you grasp it, appreciate and enjoy it.

Be joyful, friends,


Meg Cowley lives in Yorkshire, England with her husband, son, and two cats, Jet and Pixie. She loves everything fantasy, magic, and dragons, and has been a writer and artist since she could pick up a pencil. She works best when fuelled by Earl Grey Tea, margherita pizza, and characters who won’t do what they’re told!

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