From the archives….
On Thursday, while shopping for candy and trinkets to fill our New Year’s pinatas, I saw a small plaque with this saying: If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. I chuckled, even as I appreciated the wisdom in those words. It was good food for thought as I approached the time of year famous for a regret-induced rash of goal-setting.
Later that same evening, I read a post at Writer Unboxed. Sharon Bailly talked about the roller-coaster ride that’s typical of the journey toward traditional publication. She found she’d reached a point where she just couldn’t do it anymore and instead chose to publish her novel as a blog. Despite the criticism she’s apparently received from some people, it was the right choice for her. She refused to let her concept of success be defined by others.
(Check out Sharon’s “novel on a blog” site HERE.)
This all got me thinking about the impact goal-setting has on my happiness, or on my sense of being “successful”. For sure at this time of year, there’s lots of talk about the importance of setting realistic goals. But even if my goals are realistic – if they’re well within the realm of possibility, given the application of adequate amounts of discipline and/or elbow grease – there’s a chance I won’t achieve them. And what then? Am I a failure? My head would say “no”, but odds are, my self-esteem would disagree.
Easy solution? Don’t set any goals. But I need goals! They keep me focussed, moving in the direction I want to go. I don’t want to look around in a few months or years and wonder how on earth I got so far off track. Besides, I don’t really think goal-setting is the problem. The problem is how much stock we put in the achieving – or not achieving – of those goals.
Sharon Bailly has chosen to define success as “inner strength”. Me? I’m trying to measure my success in joy: am I loving playing with words and creating stories the way I once did, before I hopped on the publishing roller-coaster? Yeah, actually I am. So woohoo! I’m successful, LOL. Have I met all my goals, writing-wise and otherwise? Uh, no. But I’m okay with that. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Time to re-evaluate, revise my goals or set new ones, and keep moving forward… joyfully.
How about you? How do you measure success? Might you benefit from redefining what constitutes success as a writer for you?
Go ahead and define for yourself what “success” means. Doesn’t matter what your friends or family say, or what you perceive the writing world will think of your definition. It’s yours. Choose it, embrace it, and then follow whatever path is gonna take you there.
[This post was brought to you direct from the archives. I promise I brushed off the cobwebs. Originally published January 1, 2011.]