“Is it impossible to be successful AND happy?” Author Mona Risk asked that question in a post about competitiveness and set my mind moving. She’d inspired me to think about Success. What is Success? How do we measure it in our own lives?
I searched for answers in the motivational talks I used to give. I remember those experiences fondly. Words flew out of my mouth, with a laugh line thrown in every now and then. I confess to possessing a well-developed hambone gene. But as I revisit my workshop notes now, I’m not looking for laugh lines. I never wrote those down anyway. They simply emerged.
What I’m doing now is listening for words I’ve spoken before and need to speak again. I’m listening for what I’ve said about success. This is what I hear. “The strongest strategy for success in pretty much anything is to get yourself on an I-Can and I-Will Path. And the first thing you must do on that path is fight back fear.”
I certainly said a mouthful there, and as usual I said it to a group of writers. BUT the advice applies to everybody on every path. The group that day was romance writers like myself. Our stories are mostly about women who behave heroically. Not because they aren’t afraid, but because they do what has to be done despite their fear. We need to do the same in our real-life stories.
We can’t escape the scary things in life. They are always going to be with us. Just like they are always going to be in our stories. Otherwise, our stories won’t be very interesting. Who wants to read about characters whose lives run smooth as glass all the time? Readers want to see the glass shatter and hear it crash to the ground. Most of all, they want to feel chaos erupt.
We want our stories to be littered with sharp shards at every turn because sharp shards make a page-turner read. But we don’t want that in our real lives. We pray the shattered edges we encounter will be dull and we’ll slip past them unscathed. But this isn’t how life generally goes, including the writer’s life for sure.
We must struggle against fear of the sharp, shattering places as relentlessly as our story heroines struggle against the obstacles in their paths. One way to fight back that fear is to change the way we think about the goals we set for ourselves. We must stop thinking of our goals as far away. We must stop thinking of our progress toward those goals as painfully slow.
Thinking of success as far away and painfully slow to reach is discouraging. It drains us. We lose what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Power of Enthusiasm. He said we must never relinquish our Powerful Enthusiasm. It is the energy we need to fuel us through testing times.
Let’s talk about you, specifically, for a moment. You need to see your goal as right here, right now. You need to know what you want to accomplish today and make sure you are being realistic about that goal, not defeating yourself before your start by piling your plate impossibly high.
Next, you must see yourself as progressing toward that goal today. At the end of today, if you don’t think you’ve reached your goal, look again. What did you actually achieve? How are you not at the same place you were yesterday? Measure that achievement by asking yourself this question. “Have I done what I undertook today as well as I could manage to do it?” Be sure to factor in the obstacles you had to cope with today.
If you can say, “I’ve done what I could as well as I could manage to do it today,” then you have succeeded. If you’ve made even a single step forward, despite the obstacles you faced, you are doubly successful today. Think of each of these days as a jewel on the thread of your life, a jewel on the thread of your career. Never underestimate its worth or forget to admire its beauty.
This smells like sweet success to me and feels like happiness too. So I say to Mona Risk. “It is definitely possible to be successful AND happy.” Now all I have to do is remember those words myself. I wish I didn’t have so much trouble with that sometimes. Oh, rats. I must be human.
A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and from most other online book retailers at their websites.
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