I just read The Honest Answer to Why You’re Not Successful (It’s Not What You Think), and there’s a reason why this is the top highlight:
“What holds you back from success is never the obstacle itself. It’s how obsessed you are with finding the solution.”
I think most of us start out the same. We have dreams. We set goals. We can see what success will look like!
. . .we just have to figure out how, when, and where to do all the work in between. No problem, right? Other people have done it! Look at all the reviews that author has! Look at the sheer mass of drawings in that illustrator’s portfolio!
Then, such is the nature of such things, life often gets in the way. You miss first one deadline, then another. You feel derailed, dejected, and other demoralizing Ds. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself in a setback that lasts months if not years.
Before we get into the obsessing part, here’s what we’re forgetting:
1. That success you see others have mostly, largely, almost certainly did not come overnight. Take the concept of going viral. You know how suddenly a certain video is all over your Facebook feed or on YouTube? All your friends are talking about it! It’s awesome!
Check the date on that video. I haven’t done any research into this, mind you, but so much of the time, my eyeballs show me that the video has been out there for awhile—even two or more years. That’s positively ancient! And yet here it is, the first time I’m personally seeing it. Doesn’t mean I’m living under a rock, but it does mean that things take time—especially when everything else is out there struggling to go viral, too.
But taking time isn’t as attractive as the success point.
2. When the should-dos start piling up, we should focus on the Can-Dos instead. We spend a lot of time chastising ourselves for things that are often beyond our control.
Say your end-goal is to have 50 reviewers on your book by X date. X date is not, unfortunately, a hermit in an inviolate cave. Things are going to happen. The cave may get put on a Hermitage Tour. Or it may happen that this cave also hosts a very large, very disgruntled bear.
When hijacking times come, think like this: What one thing can you do today toward your goal? Is it to research top reviewers on Amazon? Is it to email four reviewers a day? Even doing just a little bit instead of not-a-bit will get you further than you were before.
You’re probably already thinking of things to do, so I’ll go on to #3.
3. Comparisons are evil. Right now I’m drawing a blank on when comparisons have ever helped a person really think better of themselves, long-term.
“Well, at least I’ve got more reviews than that author!” —okay, sure, but someone’s probably saying the same thing about you, and in the end, what does that really do for you, anyway? What time are you wasting comparing yourself, for better or for worse, that you could be spending on your can-do steps toward your goals and dreams?
Envy and resentment come naturally, as does bolstering ourselves up with the good feels. It happens. The trick is not to get caught up in those games. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the actual object is: Someone’s always going to have fewer and someone’s always going to have more. Focus on what you can do so you won’t hijack your own path.
So far, so good, right? Here’s another quote from the article:
If you aren’t reaching the levels of success you would like, you need to ask yourself, plain and simple,
“Is this something I am obsessed with?”
Yes, you do have to have that drive, that ambition, that gumption; he’s absolutely right.
I do think there’s another facet to this and it’s all in the approach to success. So here’s point 4.
4. Sometimes, we have to change our definition of success to succeed. Most of us, when we dream of being a published author or an illustrator with commissions busting down the door, only envision that actual success point. It’s not a surprise; it’s very enticing! Often it comes with complete Immers-o-vision, where you can practically see, feel, and smell the awesome.
But if you’re feeling too bogged down while getting to that point, you may be more likely to give up along the way. So perhaps it’s not a matter of not having that goal or not having the ambition or obsession to get to that goal. It may be just reframing what success looks like…for now. For this year. This month. This day.
- This day, I will write a blog post (done!).
- This week, I will interview three authors (two done, one to go!)
- This month, I will block out time (give myself permission for) a recreational, non-book-marketing, non-worrying activity!
You get the picture.
A success is a success. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: All big things are made of little things. Success—your dream, your goal—is no different.
So I ask you, because I really want to know:
What does “success” look like to you? And how are you getting yourself there?