One of my friends married a man whom most people would describe as successful. He makes a lot of money, works in exotic locations, and has incredible perks, which include a company-paid house, vehicle, and driver. On the personal side, he is in good health, takes amazing vacations, and has a strong marriage and two beautiful children.
So I was shocked when my friend said, “You know, he never wanted to a be a (insert name of impressive business-and-science-driven career here). His parents gave him three choices, and that’s the one he picked. He really wanted to be a chef.”
This got me thinking about success. My friend’s husband doesn’t enjoy his work–to him, it is a means to an end and he’s accepted that.
When I still languished in the corporate world, I envied one of my bosses, who was a year younger than me but far more proficient at climbing the ladder. I thought it would be so amazing to be a director and be able to put more of my creative ideas into practice.
But when I finally reached that milestone, I quickly realized it wasn’t for me. Being a director meant working evenings and weekends. Not having much of a life. And even less creative control than I’d had as a middle manager. More meetings, more committees, and endless red tape. I lasted seven months, which was five months longer than I’d wanted to.
When it comes to writing, success for me used to mean reaching Stephen King-level riches, fame, and fandom. It meant huge book deals and Hollywood banging on my door. While that would still be nice (except for the fame part–having readers hang around your house taking photos is just creepy), I’ve learned that success for me means making a living doing what I love. And what I love is telling stories. Interacting with readers. Meeting amazing people, and having a healthy travel fund (which helps a lot with the story telling and amazing-people meeting).
If we’re clear about what we want and what really makes us happy, we’re more likely to achieve it. We’re also less apt to be disappointed when we reach our goals. When we come to the end of our lives, our only regret may be that we didn’t figure this out sooner.
What’s your definition of success? Have you ever achieved something that wasn’t what you expected? How has your idea of success changed or stayed the same over the years?
Think your day job is bad? In Monsters in Our Wake, marine geologist Flora Duchovney takes a position on a drillship in the remote South Pacific in the hopes of improving the life of her young son. Instead, she gets sentient sea creatures who are seriously pissed and a crew who resents her presence. The longer the crew remains in the creatures’ territory, the more confrontations occur. When the death toll rises, Flora realizes the scariest monsters aren’t below the surface. Monsters in Our Wake is available thru Amazon.
The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.