As an entrepreneur, freelance wordsmith, and wellness & life coach, it’s safe to assume I love to live with as few limitations as possible. I’ve always thrived when being able to create my own schedule, set my own hours and rates, and compose work at my own pace in my own space. This concept of freedom is easy to romanticize, but don’t be fooled. It also comes with a handful of anxiety and a sense of uncertainty when one busy month of countless projects and growing client relationships is followed by what feels like radio silence the next. As a mother and a wife, the stress to “provide” can sometimes be overwhelming, to say the least.
I grew up believing that nothing good ever came from sitting idle. Likely fueled by fear, I conditioned myself to believe the only way to earn a lucrative income was to forcefully throw yourself into the workforce, hoping to land with no more than a scraped knee or bruised elbow. That only those with an insatiably strong work ethic were winners. Everyone else was doomed to live a life stuck in the grind forever. As a full-time daydreamer, I felt an immense sense of guilt for having abstract goals and destinations in mind with no real road map on how to get there. I also experienced my fair share of negative feedback from loved ones and acquaintances alike regarding my lofty ideas. I spent so much time worrying about not measuring up to the expectations of others that it never really occurred to me that success is and always will be completely subjective.
What are you measuring?
Eleanor Roosevelt once said “life is what you make it.” Well, so is success. As a distance runner, I track my pace and distance every time my feet hit the pavement. At the start of every month, I set a short- and long-term goal and slowly work my way to reaching them, no matter how big or small. Some days, I’ll look at my 8:15 pace and think “Jeez, was I slow today!”, while other days, I’m just proud to have gotten my sneakers on in the first place. To runners with better training and more experience, an 8:15 pace is a turtle’s crawl. To individuals just beginning to run or exercise in general, this time would be a miracle mile. Your success isn’t about how you measure up to the standards set by others. It’s how you measure up to the standards set by YOU.
Are you buying what you’re selling?
No matter what career you’re in or where you plan to venture off, if you’re not believing in what you’re doing, it’s unlikely you’re going to make it very far. We all possess a unique superhero ability in that there is absolutely no one in the world exactly like us. We have our own political opinions, personal style, taste buds, signature laugh, choice of music, etc. While there are certainly times when it’s best to refrain from speaking our opinion, showcasing our authenticity is what gives us the energy and confidence to take charge and stick with a task until we see results. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, you need to walk the walk. Address yourself as an author, share your advice and experience in online communities, join a writer’s group in your area. When a stranger asks what you do for a living, don’t shrug and say you “do some writing on the side.” Take my word for it, no one is going to hire a professional who lacks conviction and esteem. You don’t have to be the greatest at what you do, you just need to believe that you can DO IT.
Are you afraid of failure?
No dream or discovery comes without minor setbacks. Whether your business takes an unexpected hit financially, or a family emergency demands your attention for an extended amount of time, life is bound to happen. Walt Disney was dismissed from the Kansas City Star for “lacking creativity”, Lucille Ball was advised by her own manager to abandon acting as a career, and Stephen King had to submit his novel, Carrie more than thirty times before a company agreed to publish his work. Setbacks in all fields of work are bound to happen, no matter how skilled or determined you may be. At times, your journey to success may be shot down by criticism and doubt. While a tough pill to swallow, remember that these instances are nothing more than pages in your book and will likely lead to a greater story.
The power to live a life of happiness, security, and balance is something we are able capable of. Are you ready to design yours?