Portrait photo of Kaje Marie

Success Has No Finish Line: Kaje Marie on Seeking Freedom and Finding Meaning in Life

K ncKaje Marie is a former social worker turned blogger who writes about her quest for freedom and finding her God-given purpose at UnKajed Thoughts.

Back in the summer, I had a casual conversation with Kaje in the comments section of my post, Active Dreaming and the Art of Getting Ish Done. In her comment, she described a view of success that I’d been quietly cultivating but had never heard anyone else say publicly:

“Success…once upon a time I viewed success as the big house out in the suburbs, climbing to the top in my career, and a six figure income. Today, success to me is living a life of freedom, joy, and impact, and constantly being in pursuit of being a better me. So it’s a transition away from the material, the tangible and performance based kind of success.”

Wanting to delve deeper, I interviewed Kaje about what it’s like to chase an unconventional type of success in a culture that values the material.

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To read more of Kaje’s philosophy on freedom, read her companion post, Success Has No Finish Line on her blog UnKajed Thoughts. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@unkajedthoughts or @kaje_marie). 

Success Has No Finish Line Kaje Marie on Seeking Freedom and Finding Meaning in Life Pinterest Image Driftyness UnKajed Thoughts
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Your view of success is different to the popular view that sees success as an expensive car, expensive house and six figure salary. How did you come to define success in the way you do?

Reading books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The Millionaire Next Door were probably the start of the shift for me. I found out that those who are truly successful aren’t driving the newest Mercedes-Benz, don’t have a collection of 16 designer watches, and aren’t living in too big to fill houses. Instead, they’re wearing worn out mom or dad jeans, driving a used 10 year old car, and blending in in working class neighborhoods. More importantly, they’re doing work they love and making a difference in their community.

We’re trained to think that owning the newest car, having a big house in the suburbs, wearing expensive, fashionable clothing, and accomplishing the arbitrary goals we set are indicators of living our best life. I decided that these weren’t good metrics for success. Prior to quitting my job, all the things I had that I thought made me successful didn’t bring fulfillment or meaning into my life. So I had to create a new version of success.


I redefined a successful life as being a combination of the following 4 components – Joy, Intentional Impact, Freedom, and Continuous Self-Improvement.


The people that I consider to be the most successful don’t let their circumstances put them in a long term state of inaction or control their emotions or mood. They are intentionally making a difference in the world and have a profound and lasting impact in the lives of others through giving or service. They are free. That might look like financial freedom and the ability to choose work they love. They don’t have to do something they hate in order to pay the bills because their expenses are covered without having to trade time for dollars. Freedom might look like not letting your past dictate your present or future. It could also look like not letting fear put you in a state of paralysis. Either way I want it all, freedom in every way a person can experience it. And lastly, I never want to lack humility or be so arrogant that I think there is nothing about myself that needs to be improved. I want to always be engaged in the ongoing process of learning, growth, and self-improvement.

What path are you taking right now to become successful?

This is a great question. I had to think long and hard about this one because the specific steps weren’t so clear to me. I don’t yet feel that I have a system or process nailed down. I’m still somewhat in exploration mode and trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work. There are some things that I have found really helpful as I move in the direction I want to go.

Morning Pages & Reflection

The first is Morning Pages. This comes from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Morning Pages is a daily activity in which you write 3 hand-written pages of stream of consciousness in the morning before you begin your day.

When I do this for awhile, then go back and read them, I start to see patterns emerge which are not to be ignored. This is my way of honestly reflecting and pulling out what is deep within my mind and heart that I need to explore, address, or take action on.

Paying Attention to Fear

I pay close attention to the presence of fear and discomfort. It almost always is an indication that I need to take action. I acknowledge it’s there and invite it along for the ride, and then I “do it scared!”

Determine Next Steps

I loosely plan and figure out a few next steps. I’m very detail-oriented and I love a comprehensive, well-thought out plan. However, I have found that I can spend so much time planning that when it comes time to take action, I’m too overwhelmed with all the steps I need to take that I abandon ship. So now, I figure out just a few things I can do in the immediate future to move in a certain direction. As I do those things I take note of how I’m feeling about what I’m doing and evaluate where I end up before choosing the next few things.

Consultation

Other than Morning Pages, consulting God is probably the most important thing I do, but honestly don’t do often enough. It happens in different ways – asking questions and quietly waiting for answers; connecting via Morning Pages; praying; and asking for increased awareness in order to know when something I hear, see, or experience is supposed to lead me a certain way. This piece of the puzzle is sometimes missing, but it’s like gold when it’s there.

There’s other little things I do and try that are more conventional, but I think these 4 things I mentioned are the most critical in getting to where I want to be in life.

In some ways, it seems like you’re living life differently to how society generally expects people to live: starting your own business instead of working at someone else’s, rehoming your dogs instead of keeping them, making energy budget cuts instead of taking on more things, trying to rely on God instead of doing everything yourself. What is it like to live differently to other people?

It’s difficult and uncomfortable. Life is unpredictable, but still very exciting.

Going against what I was taught and what is considered to be mainstream isn’t easy. As I recently disclosed, it’s hard not having a polished answer for “What do you do?” Because working and being a financial contributor to my household has always been a part of my core identity as an adult.

I also like detailed plans and step-by-step instructions. There aren’t any instructions for this life though. No blueprint to follow. So it’s always hard and uncomfortable. There are days when I have zero clue as to whether I’m working on the right thing. There are times when I think that maybe I should have just secured a job when we first moved here. I never know what’s going to happen next. Even when I feel like I know the general direction I’m heading in, all the specifics that happen are completely and utterly surprising. I could not have predicted a single thing that has happened this year. But I find excitement in it. I’m always astonished and amazed at how my life is unfolding.

I mean, I would have laughed in your face if you told me that I was going to have a part-time job as a nanny. But that’s exactly what I just started doing 3 days a week, and I feel no shame or embarrassment about it.

I know that what I’m doing feels weird to others. But that’s okay. I’m the only one that needs to understand. I don’t think anyone who decides to walk the path less travelled will tell you it’s easy. It’s not. I’m always lost. I’m a hot mess and all over the place all the time, but I’m always amazed and in awe, and I’ve never been happier.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as you’ve worked to become successful on your own terms?

The journey is not a straight path.

Slow progress is still progress.

Freedom lies on the other side of fear.

One of the most important lessons I learned is to not force something due to feeling like my worth and identity is tied to my accomplishments or a title.

What advice would you give to someone who also has an atypical view of success but doesn’t know how to start pursuing it?

Block out the noise and turn off the chatter, both in your mind and from other people. You will be criticized, you will be judged, you will encounter naysayers. Be guided by your own inner compass, not someone who wants to shut you down and doesn’t understand where you’re trying to go.

Just figure out the one next step, then go do it. You don’t need to know the whole plan or outcome when you start. Just do the one next thing you can do to move in the direction you want to go. Repeat, one step at a time.

Lastly, be flexible. Marry yourself to the process, not the outcome.

Quote by Kaje Marie: marry yourself to the process, not the outcome.
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To read more of Kaje’s philosophy on freedom, read her companion post, Success Has No Finish Line on her blog UnKajed Thoughts. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@unkajedthoughts or @kaje_marie). 

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Image via UnKajed Thoughts

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16 comments on “Success Has No Finish Line: Kaje Marie on Seeking Freedom and Finding Meaning in Life

  1. I loved what Kaje Marie’s true definition of success is all about. If we all can embrace that concept – we’ll be better off. What we don’t realize is that we’re all successful. Loved this piece and definitely need to read it again and again…

    • Such a radical thought that we could be successful right now! I’ll be re-reading it too. Glad it gave you some food for thougt.

  2. Excellent! Loved this piece! Need to read this twice!

    • I think I’ll have to come back to it too, Kaje had so many good points. I know I fall into the trap of thinking that I have to have everything sorted out, but she really showed me that sometimes you figure things out as you go. That’s still progress!

  3. Yes, she just said a little line and completed the book of life. Yes, success is something away from materialism. I have learned a lot from your post and from Kaje Marie’s words. I need to go check out her site as she an amazing woman. I am so glad to see you back on your site. I came to see several time but figured out that you must be busy with your studies.

    • Haha, there’s a lot of wisdom in here. I’m glad this post gave you some good takeaways. I always hope people can walk away with something after they read something on here.

      You won’t be disappointed in checking Kaje out! She’s very inspirational and a fabulous writer! Her posts have a lot of gems like this.

      I’m so touched that you missed me. Thank you 🙂 You’re absolutely correct, school has been keeping me busy. I’m in the middle of doing some research in order to complete my degree and I didn’t realize how time-consuming it would be!

    • Haha, there’s a lot of wisdom in here. I’m glad this post gave you some good takeaways. I always hope people can walk away with something after they read something on here.

      You won’t be disappointed in checking Kaje out! She’s very inspirational and a fabulous writer! Her posts have a lot of gems like this. You can find her blog at https://www.unkajedthoughts.com/

      I’m so touched that you missed me. Thank you 🙂 You’re absolutely correct, school has been keeping me busy. I’m in the middle of doing some research in order to complete my degree and I didn’t realize how time-consuming it would be!

  4. Thank you so much again for collaborating and pulling this out of me! This was such a great experience. And I really like the design and layout of this post! You’re super talented, keep it up! 🙂

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