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Five Pitstops You Need to Make on the Road to Success


This month I am celebrating my fourth anniversary of writing for Virgin Islands Life & Style. As I honour this milestone, I thought it would be fun to look back on the first article I wrote for the magazine and see if there is anything I would change. After all, a lot has happened since the summer of 2018 when I penned the words of my debut article.

While the BVI made tremendous strides in recovery after the 2017 hurricanes, by 2020 we were sidelined by the pandemic that swept across the globe with a wave of unpredictability, fear, and uncertainty. Add the recent political changes and possibly our own personal ups and downs, and it is safe to say we’ve been through a lot in recent times.

What has not changed though, is our resilience and our drive, both collectively as a Territory, and individually. Sure, we may have taken a few knocks, but we continue to rise – determined to stand stronger than ever.

So, in light of all we have been through in recent years, this article is dedicated to those who continue to rise after each fall with the desire to keep moving forward. May it serve to inspire anyone who still has their eyes focused upward and those who are looking for inspiration to do the same.

In honour of my fourth anniversary, I present this updated version of my original article, Five Pitstops You Need to Make on the Road to Success (that will help you avoid burnout), which first appeared in the late summer/fall 2018 edition of this magazine. The article has been revised to add new insights, keeping in mind the many challenges we have faced in the last few years.

Has life knocked you down?

First, let me commend you for not giving up. It says a lot about a person who keeps moving forward in the face of many trials. When challenges come, it is easy to give up, but Dale Carnegie said it well…

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ―Dale Carnegie

I doubt I am the first to tell you that life can be hard sometimes. You will face setbacks and encounter difficulties. People will treat you unfairly and unjustly. When you think all is well, something will happen that will shake your faith. Coming to terms with this reality will make you stronger and yes, more resilient.

So, the fact that you are still reading this says a lot about you. You want to succeed. You want to thrive and not just survive. The question is, how do you do that when life knocks you down time and time again?

I am a firm believer that despite life’s difficulties, you can overcome. You can shine—yes, like a diamond. As a matter of fact, a diamond presents the perfect analogy of what we’re talking about today.

Shine bright like a diamond

According to the Smithsonian magazine, it is understood that diamonds were formed deep within the earth’s upper mantle. They were formed through a combination of high temperature and high pressure. “The diamonds that we see…are…brought to the surface by a very deep-seated volcanic eruption. It’s a very special kind of eruption, thought to be quite violent, that occurred a long time ago in the Earth’s history.[1]  

Diamonds have been through the wringer, yet nothing shines as bright as they do. In the same way, even though you have experienced many hardships in your life, you can shine as well. We will use the S.H.I.N.E. acronym to remind you of the steps you can take to stay focused on your goals and keep moving forward when life is hard.

These five pitstops will help you S.H.I.N.E. even when life is hard

To keep you moving toward your goals in spite of difficulties, here are five pitstops you need to make. Just as a racecar driver must make pitstops or risk accidents, you too will need to have regular pitstops in life. Refer to these checkpoints occasionally to see how you’re doing and to inspire you to keep going. Even when life is hard, you can S.H.I.N.E. on the journey.

S – Check your Spirituality

Spirituality is that sense that there is something greater than you. In our Caribbean society this is often associated with our Christian beliefs. Even before challenges arise, consider what you believe and how these beliefs shape your values, because ultimately this will be your north star. If you skip this pitstop, you risk being knocked down by every roadblock that gets in your way.

It’s no mistake that this is the first checkpoint because it is the most important. Your spirituality will help you maintain a healthy perspective when life knocks you down. It will also empower and inspire you to get up again and get back in the race.  

H – Check your Health

Your health greatly affects your journey through life. Ask anyone who has faced a life-changing diagnosis. So, be sure to pay careful attention to your health. Women often try to take care of everyone else before themselves and this is the perfect way to crash and burn. Don’t wait until illness stops you in your tracks. Heed the warning signs, pay attention to your body and practice regular maintenance, aka health checks.

If you have a concern, don’t let it go too far before you schedule a visit with your health care provider or mental health professional. It’s impractical for you to help, serve or take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself.  Focus on healthy eating habits, proper hydration (especially in our Caribbean heat) and good old regular exercise. And don’t forget to rest. Rest is as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as what you put into your body, so make sure you get your z’s.

Determine to make your physical and mental wellbeing top priority.

I – Check your Individuality

This is the pitstop that many skip over. This is about having a strong sense of identity apart from the roles you play in other people’s lives. Do you remember who you were before you became Mrs. Smith, Tommy’s mommy, the store clerk or the church’s worship leader? There will always be expectations placed on you, but you have to remember who you are as an individual, so you don’t lose yourself. To help with this, spend some time reflecting on what you like to do and what brings you joy—then go do them. Carving out time for a favourite hobby for example, is a great way to refresh yourself and do things you love. It also gives you something else to think about and some welcomed relief from life’s challenges.

Make time for the things that fill you up by incorporating them into your schedule and routine.

N – Check your Nearest and Dearest

A solo journey has its place, but everyone needs to experience community with others in order to thrive. While a network of business associates can help you move ahead in your career, you also need a network of supporters and loved ones will keep you encouraged and motivated throughout life. So, on your road to success be sure to make time for those you love and care for. During the tough times you’ll be glad you did.

By the way, this is not a one-sided thing. Make it a priority to spend time with others giving, serving and encouraging. They will be blessed and so will you. Nurturing these key relationships is a win-win for everyone.

E – Check your Environment

Now, this is a big one. This is where you pay attention to who and what you allow into your space. Do you surround yourself with positive influences (people and things) or are you being dragged down by negativity? We have all heard the saying ‘misery loves company’, but you don’t have to stay stuck in the mire.  At this pitstop you’ll have to make some decisions about what you will carry with you through life’s journey. Deciding what to leave behind is just as important as what to take along, so choose wisely.

Keep shining

It is possible to pursue success in spite of life’s challenges and S.H.I.N.E. along the way. If you intentionally check on your progress in all five areas, you will notice where there’s room for improvement. Challenges will still come, but you will be better equipped to get unstuck, adjust and move forward. Your resiliency will improve, and you will be ready to face the next challenge.  

Life can be hard, but you don’t have to stay down. Get up, get moving, and let’s cheer each other on.  

Here’s to your success! 


[1] Reference: Smithsonian Magazine article, Diamonds Unearthed accessed online 18, July 2022  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/diamonds-unearthed-141629226/

Marva Titley-Smith, Strategic Planner, Certified Life Coach & Author

Marva is a work and life strategist with a passion for helping women thrive in all areas of life. She’s the BVI’s first local female architect and former Chief Planner. In 2012, after 26 years in the Public Service, she successfully transitioned careers and founded the management consulting firm, MatrixSpark specializing in strategic management, training and coaching. Following her calling, she became certified as a life breakthrough coach to address the growing work-life balance challenges facing women.

Marva is the author of the best-selling book, Time to Thrive: A Busy Woman’s Devotional Journal. You can find her writing about work-life synergy and intentional living on her website www.MarvaSmith.com.