Everyone has different definitions of success. For some, success is money. For others it’s recognitions or rankings. For even others, it may be both or something completely different.
Success by Ranking
When my first books came out, I was a slave to the Amazon ranking list. When it was lower, I was ecstatic. When it moved up a few, moving from five figures to six figures (because let’s be honest, it never went under five figures for me), I was devastated.
And you may have heard me mention before that I was also subscribed to Publishers Lunch for awhile, where I got a regular dose of who was getting big deals for their book projects. Rather than celebrate the author’s success and revel in the thought that a cool new book would be available to read, I was bummed that it wasn’t my deal. This relates to a topic I covered in 2014 in my post “Measuring Up as a Writer”, quoting Teddy Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Recently I came across a quote that is helping me re-vision the idea of success:
“True Success enlivens and supports the spirit; it has not to do with the isolated attainments, but being successful as a total person, attaining a successful lifestyle that benefits not only yourself, but everyone around you.” – from Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.
Now that sounds awesome. “Being successful as a total person,” not just because of specific achievements. But the question for me is how to make the shift? Our society is so focused on individual accomplishments, accolades, and such. How can I celebrate those things without having them define me or my success? How can I feel successful in connection with those things that truly “enliven and support my spirit?”
I don’t have too many answers yet (though I welcome yours below!) For now, I’m working on detachment from the opinions of others and feeling gratitude and appreciation for all things writer-related. All of you who support and/or write fab stories for young people, the opportunity I have to write, and the joy I derive from it. If I feel truly appreciative, I also feel happy. And when I feel happy, I feel…successful.
Denise, I love this!!
Instead of ending the day with a gratitude list, I start the day with one. It’s the little things, really, that sew together a successfully joyful life. And many times those little things lead to inspiration for a new story. Or not.
I don’t have answers either. All I know is that life is filled with wonderment. Some days are harder than others, and those are the days I make chocolate chip cookies.
Thank you so much for responding! I just recently started taking a class that encourages gratitude lists at the beginning and end of the day and at first I thought “But my day hasn’t begun; what can I be grateful for?” DUH. How about a new day? The comfortable bed I just woke up in? The ability to stretch and stand up? The sun coming up? The list truly is endless. I love your expression “That sew together a successfully joyful life.” That’s so beautiful and perfect. And it’s true that gratitude and joy lead to inspiration and new ideas. Thank you for that.
Maybe if we’re both having a hard day, we can make cookies together. 🙂 I’m so grateful for you and our friendship!