During my 10-year sales career, the most successful year I had financially was the year I felt the worst emotionally. I was constantly stressed out and under a lot of pressure—most of which I placed on myself. I was gaining weight. I was drinking more than usual. (“But it’s with clients!” I would justify, again, mostly to myself.) I felt tired, hungover, or in a rush. Or all three at once (an unpleasant, highly unadvisable mix).
In the years since, I’ve come to appreciate myriad other ways to measure success outside of my bank balance. Now, when I feel that familiar stress creeping up, I assess how I’m feeling in a holistic way to keep myself in check. Here are some of the most important factors to take into account:
1. How Relaxed and Unhurried You Feel
When you are zipping around—dropping off dry cleaning, waiting at the salad bar, walking to your Pilates class, or even watching TV—how does your body feel? Are you face down, on your phone, no matter what? Are your shoulders tense? Are you rushing, or enjoying the walk/the breeze/the vegetable options/the episode of Imposters?
To be honest, I still feel like I’m in a bit of continuous sprint to get things done. But by being aware of it, when I find myself attached to my phone or on speed mode unnecessarily, I just think, It’s OK. There’s no emergency. You’d be surprised how much that small, jolt-like reminder and a few deep inhales and exhales helps.
2. How Much You Prioritize Pleasure
Having lived in New York for seven years, whenever I leave the city, I am struck by how much credence is given to simple pleasures. Sitting in the sun. Talking to friends for hours in café. Playing the guitar just because it’s fun. Walking to your destination… slowly.
Pleasure takes many forms. For you, it might be lounging in bed till 1 p.m. every Sunday, having frequent sex with your S.O, or taking two non-negotiable international vacations per year. How much of a priority do you make it?
3. How Much Enjoyment You Experience (When It’s Supposed to Be Fun)
Speaking of pleasure… the activity alone is not enough. I remember having a massage once to chill out, but I was not relaxed on that spa table one little bit. It was probably just 15 minutes or so before I had a desire to check my phone. How much fun are you really allowing in?
4. Having a Hobby
I was helping a friend fill out her dating profile recently, and we got to the section titled Hobbies. We looked at each other and laughed. We both realized, neither of us has any. Ha!
My friend, who lives in Germany, participates in many clubs: tennis, bridge, a close-knit reading group. It makes me a little envious. I’ve now committed to more than just working and socializing this year. See you in a dance class? Go on.
5. How Your Body Feels
Pay attention to your body for a second. Are you in any pain/discomfort? Are you tired? Are you tense? Do you feel heavy or light? How you feel physically is a great barometer of what’s going on with you emotionally. Are you sleeping enough, taking a few minutes to meditate, skipping out on a doctor’s checkup because you’re too busy?
6. How Yourself You Are
True fulfillment comes when we are most fully ourselves. If, just for a day, you didn’t hold back an ounce of yourself and were truly you, what would you be doing differently? Would you be more outspoken? Would you be pursuing an entirely different career? Would you stop spending so much time doing things that don’t make you happy?
7. The Relationships You Have
Instead of focusing on hating your boss or your dislike of being single, how can you focus on the relationships that are present and valuable instead? Like with your closest colleague, roommate, brother, kind landlord, or cheerful barista? Having good relationships is a great sign of a healthy, happy, well-rounded life. They don’t have to all be perfect to be good.
8. Anticipation of a Bright Future
Happy people believe the future will be even better than the present. Do you visualize a positive spring, summer, entire year? And what about next year? Does what’s around the corner feel exciting, fun, and energizing?
9. How Much Fun You Are Having!
How often do you laugh, when you think about it? According to Psychology Today, “The average 4-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-year-old? Only four.” Enough said.
Ironically, I’ve noticed that my best ideas and business decisions come when I’m feeling calm and happy. All of the above are, in fact, good for business, too. When you replace the word “stress” with “fear,” you understand that when you’re stressed out and feeling unsuccessful, you’re probably just scared of something. For me that year, it was the fear of not producing enough. To me, this translated to: I am not enough. I still battle this. But at least when I do this year, I hope I’ll be dancing.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday on Greatist for her latest No Regrets column!