Learning to Redefine Your Goals to Save Your Health

By Diana Vaden

Photo by Josh Calabres

Photo by Josh Calabres

Success can be an elusive and confusing game of “This is what I’ve always wanted...so why am I feeling unfulfilled and a wreck?”


In the summer of 2016, I was at the top of my game, professionally. I performed in the highest-paying show on the Vegas strip, enjoyed being in the choreographer’s group of favorites, and made an insane amount of money for an exclusive gig at a hot new nightclub. These achievements — prestige, clout, and lots of money — epitomized success to me.

Here’s the irony: ninety per cent of the time I fell sick due to too little sleep and too much stress. And I quietly put myself through the hell of anorexia because of the intense pressure to maintain my look for the gigs.

One night towards the end of the summer, I woke up in the middle of the night. When I climbed out of bed, I crumpled to the floor, nauseated and dizzy. I couldn’t stand up. I desperately called 911 from the floor of my apartment. When the paramedics arrived, I crawled to the front door. I couldn’t even climb into the wheelchair without their help.

I sat in a hospital bed for two weeks with nothing to do but wait for the nurses to come draw more blood. I had plenty of time to finally think and figure out how I had gotten to this point. In my intense pursuit to stay at the top, I had put my health on the back-burner.  

I left the hospital with a walker, literally having to learn how to walk again. I was that weak.  

That trip to the hospital rudely brought me to my senses. It was apparently the only thing that could make me change my definition of success. I’m a bit stubborn that way. Maybe you can relate.


Before those devastating weeks in the hospital, I believed success to be achieving my career goals, no matter the cost. As a recovering perfectionist I have trouble tolerating personal mediocrity or falling short of the best in anything I pursue. But that summer stay taught me to consider these compelling and challenging words spoken by Jesus:

“What good would it do to get everything you want and lose YOU, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (emphasis mine)

In my pursuit of success, I had sacrificed the health of my soul, my body, and my mind. Instead, measuring up and staying on top consumed me.


So what happened? Well, my body recovered and I decided to move to New York, of course! I am still a determined, high-achieving woman who values excellence. (What woman in NYC isn’t?) But I brought with me a new definition of success learned in my hospital room and those challenging words spoken by Jesus. I came with a determination to prioritize the health of soul, mind, and body over achieving any goal.

Now, I often ask myself the following question: “This all looks great on paper, but how are my mind, body and soul?” If climbing any kind of ladder in my life or career means jeopardizing the health of those three aspects of my life and drives me away from what is holy and sane, then I have to reconsider what I am doing. I have learned that it simply isn’t worth it.  

Are you sacrificing your health for success? Do you need a new definition of success?

Photo by Josh Calabrese

Photo by Josh Calabrese