“The problem with chasing success is that you usually don’t know when you’ve caught it.”—Maggie Shayne
Often, we begin our pursuit of success without first sitting down to think about what that word means to us. And because of that, the pursuit becomes unending, and we never feel we’ve reached our goal.
And that’s because our goals are constantly changing, evolving, growing and expanding.
But a life spent in pursuit of something one can never quite catch, is an unsatisfying life. We can change that, though, with the simple exercises I give in this post.
Let’s all stop, right now, (it’s okay, it’s a weekend) and take out our writing implements of choice, and start writing down what success meant to us when we first started out on our current path, and also what it means to us today.
In the beginning….
My idea of success was to be published by a major publisher. It took 8 years of writing and submitting. It could have gone far faster if I’d understood how the Universe works back then, but I didn’t, so 8 years.
I finally hit that goal when I gave up. My self-imposed deadline (publish by the time the youngest starts kindergarten, or give up and get a “real” job) was two weeks away, and I was searching want ads and trying to write a resumé instead of a novel. That’s when I got the call.
So, success achieved, right?
Not so much.
Almost before I signed the contract, I was hoping to sell more books.
That’s the pattern for almost everyone. That’s why success can seem as elusive as a blue butterfly.
In the middle…
During the most rapid-growth period of my career, success became a constantly moving target.
- I wanted higher advances.
- I wanted still higher advances.
- I wanted even higher advances.
- I wanted bestseller lists.
- I wanted a higher position on bestseller lists.
- I wanted more weeks on bestseller lists.
- I wanted more weeks at higher positions on bestseller lists.
- I wanted award nominations.
- I wanted to WIN.
- I wanted to win MORE.
- I wanted 1000 Facebook followers.
- I wanted 10,000 Facebook followers.
- I wanted 20,000 Facebook followers
- Now I want 100,000. (Skipped right over wanting 30K-90K. Let’s go straight for six figures, am I right?)
Everything I achieved just lifted me to a higher platform, where I could see way more things to shoot for. So I never felt successful. I always felt like I was still striving for that elusive butterfly.
Today I have taken the time to define what success is to me. And don’t think for a minute I’m saying that this is what it should be for you. The definition of success is as unique as you are!
So for me:
- Success means earning a comfortable living doing something I love so much that it doesn’t feel like work to me.
- Success means having an enthusiastic base of readers who can hardly wait for each new book to release.
- Success means writing books I’m proud to have written, books my kids and grandkids can be proud of their matriarch for having written.
- Success means making my own hours, and having plenty of down time where my nose isn’t pressed to the grindstone.
- Success means writing what I want to write, the way I want to write it, in my own time frame.
And that’s just business success. There’s also my definition of personal success, but that’s another post.
But what about goals?
Surely we want to keep growing. Of course we do. Expansion is the entire point of existence. Goals are what keep us here. When we stop desiring, we transition back to spirit so we can generate a new body and a new wish list and a new round of expansion can begin.
Life is constant expansion. That’s why we’re always striving for more. It’s human nature.
How to catch the butterfly
As I examined my definition of success, I realized that I already have it. I realized that my definition of broke today, has become what I used to think of as rich. My definition of a book tanking, is what I used to think of as massive sales. My definition of lots of Facebook followers is 100 times what it used to be. I’ve had to start culling inactive newsletter subscribers because the list got so huge!
It’s all perception. What looks big to a mouse looks tiny to an elephant. It’s all perspective.
The constant striving for more can be the very trap that keeps us stuck where we are. It’s what we call “Plateauing” (because we writers love making verbs out of nouns.)
The way to avoid the trap? Stop just long enough to look around and take stock of every goal you’ve already met, and every definition of success that you have achieved and then surpassed almost without noticing.
You are far more successful than you know.
The next step…
Start tallying up the success you’ve already had, and already have. Remember every idea of success you used to have, and check them off your wish list. Write them all down in your diary or journal.
At first, I hoped to make $____. Today I’m making $____!
At first, I hoped to publish ___ number of novels. Today, I have published ___!
At first, I hoped to have ___ newsletter subscribers. Today I have __!
By taking the time to really notice what you have already achieved, you will unlock the magical gate that leads you up to the next level
- Take some time to define what success means to you. Journal everything that you envision when you think about your own success.
- Take some more time to remember your earliest goals and definitions of what success would look like, and then contrast them with where you are today in each of those areas.
- Spend time basking in appreciation for every goal you’ve achieved. Celebrate. Praise yourself. And give thanks.
- Now make a new list of goals. By writing them down, it will be easier for you to revisit them later, and laugh at how cute and tiny they seem from your lofty perch in the future.
My favorite tools...
One of my favorite tools for helping me to stop and bask in each year’s successes, are the Leonie Dawson Create Your Shining Biz workbooks. I get one every year as soon as they are released. They guide you through the process of reviewing the past year’s successes and taking stock of the things that didn’t work so you won’t repeat them, and then setting goals for the new year.
I used to be an affiliate, but they dropped the affiliate program. I don’t get a nickel out of sales of these brilliant workbooks. But I’m recommending them in this precious space of mine anyway, because they’re that good. And they work. The 2018 editions aren’t ready to order yet, but you can get the 2017 stuff at 50% off if you missed it. I’ll post another link as soon as the 2018 planners and workbooks are ready.
So do this. I think you’ll find that you’re not only successful now, but that you’ve been successful all along. You’ll see a distinct trajectory of expansion that cannot help but continue into the future.
Until next time,