I think knowing what other people have done is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, understanding strategic moves and even what mistakes a role model has made is valuable. But I think it’s valuable more so as a motivation and maybe as a positive “it’s okay if you stumble” reminder. The value is not in a detailed roadmap of how you can duplicate her success. Knowing what someone has done to reach whatever kind of “success” they’ve accomplished can be tempting to recreate.
Everyone’s success is a result of different choices and unique decisions. These choices and decisions are rooted in their personality and their circumstances. I think it’s even more important to remember that there are an infinite number of paths to success. In fact, the very definition of success can vary greatly from person to person. Reaching a specific goal, or earning money, or traveling around the world, winning an award, getting into a university, having a loving family…. it’s up to the person to decide.
I talk a lot, and think about, the importance of following my own path. Sometimes, I admit, I look at what others have done and I’m tempted to do the exact same thing. If I can move to that city, and work in a similar company, and follow the same timeline as she did…. then I can be just like her. But that’s not the way it works, of course!!
Instead of looking at what she did, take a closer look at what she did. I know, that sounds completely wrong. I mean this, don’t tally the detailed events but instead look at the root of the decision. 
She started a small photography business on the side because she was always snapping pictures at her sister’s soccer games. What do you always do for fun that people respect and value? 
She took an internship at a fashion company because she wanted to learn more about the industry. What do you want to know more about?
See the difference? If you look within yourself and choose your path based on your own passions, interests, and desires…. you’ll be one step closer to finding your own success. (Oh, it’s also really important to define what success is for you, not necessarily what someone else thinks it should be!)
For me personally, I did so many things that a lot of people looked at and labeled as crazy. While they were absolutely different than what most were doing, it was absolutely what was right for me. And, I have to say that I have definitely reached what I would consider success and I’m on my way to continuing to reach my future success. I’m even criticized now because I didn’t get traditional internships and shouldn’t have the job or live in the city that I do… I think it’s because I didn’t do the traditional route that I found myself where I am!
Ask yourself…
What makes me different?
Where do I spend most of my free time?
My top three strengths are… and my weaknesses are…
When I close my eyes, how do I see myself in 5, 10, or 15 years?
If I could do anything, I’d want to…
I love learning about…

When you have to make decisions (which city should I move to, what school should I apply to, is this the right internship for me), refer back to the answers you have! I find it much easier to answer the questions when there’s no pressure of a looming decision. And then when you have to make a decision, the answers are already composed for you to look back to.
This quotation from a recent interview with Mickey Drexler and I love it. Don’t be predictable. Do “you.”


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this is so on point, it's not about learning every detail about how someone became "successful," but rather focusing on how you could do it on your own with your passions, interests, and strengths. as a woman going into finance and considering different MBA programs, i find that what you've discussed is so important. i think we all follow different paths and while they're not all the same, it's important to realize the value of coming from different backgrounds and experiences. thanks for this post carly.

Chai & Bri

This so hits at the heart of the issue. I have really struggled with falling into this trap of wanting to follow every step that someone else has undertaken in order to get to where they are. But, I keep reminding myself that I have make MY path. I can get to where they are but I am not going to do it by becoming them. My best asset is my individuality and I have to make choices with that in mind. 🙂

Briana C.


Love this post. So inspiring! It has already made a lot of ideas stir in my head.



Ahh…thanks for this! I wish I had understood this in college. I feel like I am understanding almost two years after graduation that my path is for me and it won't always be a straight line to a destination.


This is great! I always try to live up to what other women in IT have done, but sometimes forget to realize that they idea of success and/or what they have done is not what I would do. It's hard to make my own path in a male dominated field, but it's important for me to. I want to be a mentor for other women.

carelessly graceful


This post came at the perfect time for me! Such a needed reminder to remember that I have to do what's best for me, not just the obvious or more glamorous choice!


Charlee R

Thank you for this post, it definitely came at the right time. I'm heading back to school in September for a second undergraduate degree and getting a lot of negative opinions from everyone but I've finally decided to follow my passion and do what I know will make me happy for the rest of my life (but I need a specific type of education to be qualified & certified to do it). I trust myself, and just have to know that the path I'm making, although unconventional, will lead me to exactly the right place.

Charlee Anne @


Thanks for the reminders 🙂 I often find myself admiring other peoples' self-defined "success" and wondering how I can get there too. Like you said, everything is circumstantial & rooted in choices and personality. To your point, on the personality end, I always try to figure out what drives or motivates others to get where they've been and are going. Seeing how others view their own world can be very inspiring and key! And I love the tips you've given about finding out how to make success out of something that you already enjoy or are good at. Marketing what you already possess can be your greatest asset. Sometimes I wish we weren't the same age and that you were older so I could have read your blog and current advice like 5 years ago… but I am glad you are writing it now anyway. Keeps reminding me and giving me new ideas 🙂


Such a great post! I really needed to read something like this to change my perspective and it was definitely the inspiration I needed to sort out my plans for this year. You hit the nail on the head with this post, thanks so much for continuing to be an inspiration and a voice of reason.


So encouraging! This is something that I need to hear on a regular basis at this point in my life. Thank you for providing that!

Julia D.

I think decisions get criticized for the bravery they take. What I mean by that is people will put down those who they see as taking an uncoventional path, not because they disagree with it, but because they are jealous of the courage the person must have had to it. Good for you for doing what you know is right for YOU!