beware of this trap as you map out your goals and growth plans

Darrah Brustein
2 min readFeb 8, 2023
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have you ever received a compliment that once would have made you puff up with pride, but now feels like an ill-fitting shoe?

i recently caught up with a group of people with whom i was in a networking group about eight years ago. while in a conversation, one of my former colleagues off-handedly said to me, “you were one of the most hardworking people i knew back then.”

his words caused me to pause and think to myself:

1. that’s true, i was.

2. i felt a little bit sad for that version of me from those years ago because she felt that she wasn’t inherently valuable or good enough, and in order to gain worth, she had to work the hardest.

3. that’s no longer representative of who i am or what i value.

it touched an old nerve that, fortunately, has had enough time to (mostly) heal. had it not, there’s a solid chance that i would have spun into self-doubt and internal verbal flagellation about how i’d become ‘lazy’ or ‘lost people’s respect’ as a result of eschewing the ‘workhorse’ monicker. that would have been my ego getting the better of me and losing sight of my updated truth(s).

it reminded me that these passing moments have the opportunity to reinforce old stories, outdated identities, and/or encourage us to (re)consider our unique values and definitions of success.

it takes intention, spaciousness, and conviction to decide for yourself. and… to be willing to update and reimagine as you go and grow.

as i left that space, i thought to myself, “beware of compliments that are not aligned with who you are or where you want to go. stay grounded.”

with that, i’m curious:

  • what does success mean to you in this season of life?
  • has that changed or evolved over time?
  • are your thoughts and actions aligned with that current definition?



Darrah Brustein

On a mission to debunk "sleep when you're dead" culture + chasing others people's definitions of success to build a life of your own design.