Have you ever wallowed in your own success or, rather, lack of? We’ve all attempted things in the past only to be disappointed when the outcome we received failed to take the form we hoped for. We’ve all felt like a failure at some time or other. But the truth is many of us don’t even recognize what success is. Success, we reason, has to be some grand, spectacular thing we’ve accomplished in order for it to count. But life is made up of many smaller successes, successes we encounter every day and shrug off because they seem too small, too insignificant. (I haven’t saved a life, or brought about world peace, I haven’t climbed any mountains–you know how it goes.)
If only we’d change the way we think.
Success doesn’t need to be some grandiose thing–the making of a million dollars or the purchase of a seaside home worth millions. Success can be as simple as getting out of bed in the morning—maybe not for you or me, but for some people I’m sure it is.
Today, I challenged myself to write down 100 of my successes. FYI I’m reading, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I figured if it was good enough for Jack Canfield, it was good enough for me. I mean, even if you’ve never read a single “Chicken Soup” book, you’ve got to admire this man for what he has accomplished. So when Jack suggests making a list, I make a list. What can it hurt?
So with pen and paper in hand I set out, wondering if I even had 100 successes to write down. 100 is a lot, I mean a LOT. I started out with the important ones—the birth of my children, thirty-six years of marriage, the publication of two books and my many other writing accomplishments. I quickly wrote down the award my first book was short-listed for. I whizzed through all these things with plenty of steam to spare.
But then it got a little more challenging. Hey, I’m not all that interesting. I haven’t done that many things. At least that’s what I thought! I dug back into my childhood and added things like learning to swim, to print, to read, and to write—all very important accomplishments. I’ve never won any big awards but I got my drivers license at twenty-five even though (and many of my friends can confirm this) I don’t really like driving. I taught Sunday school—bet you didn’t know that. I was even a 4-H leader at one time. I added friends to the list because to have friends is to have success, and I’ve got some pretty awesome friends. (Please take a bow if you’re one of them reading this now!) I listed the fact that after six years I’m still blogging and hey, I even have some followers, some of you even check out my posts when I publish them! I added learning how to can vegetables the year I was married. And even learning to play the recorder in grade five (shivers to this day.) I was a choir member in elementary and wrote and presented several speeches to the Home and School Association even though my heart was pounding in my ears. I wrote my first play at ten and
bribed persuaded my friends into act in it with promises of fame and fortune. (Okay, so the promised fame and fortune part never happened. Who knew what fame and fortune was back in the fifth grade anyway?)
The more things I thought about the more successful I felt which I suppose is the point of the whole exercise. I’m only half-way through the list but I’m confident I’ll reach 100 before the evening is out. I’ll be on top of the world!
No matter what your definition of success it, the one thing we can all agree upon is that success is always a positive thing. And if you think you haven’t been very successful in life maybe you need to rethink you definition of success. Maybe we could all benefit by taking a step back and deciding just what success looks like. Does it mean you have to lower your standards? I don’t think so. We can still set goals, in fact there’s nothing wrong in that, but we should still take time to acknowledge all those everyday successes that come our way while we’re waiting for that goal we’ve set to become a reality.
For the writer waiting for that first piece to be published, maybe success is the writing of a publishable short story, poem, novel or article. Maybe it’s making a commitment to creating a blog and writing regular blog posts. Or maybe it’s taking the time to write a letter to someone you know would appreciate a hand-written note. We won’t all sell thousands of copies of our books, we won’t all win awards, we won’t all retire from the royalties we earn, and we won’t all be published in book form—but we can still be successful.
So if you’re not feeling very successful at the moment I’d suggest you start making a list of your own, and I challenge you NOT to feel successful by the time you reach 100.