Why Be Patient When Working Towards Success
The last few weeks have truly tested my mettle. A severe chest cold knocked me on my butt. Then, just when I thought I was going to recover, the pollen explosion sent me spiraling back down into agony. To add insult to injury, a freak storm did damage to my property this week.
It is very difficult to write meaningful content when you feel terrible. It’s almost impossible to write coherent material on cold medicine. To keep you from thinking I had slipped into a pattern of heavy drinking, I chose instead to take some time away from my blog.
And I missed it terribly!
With everything that has been going on, though, I have been reminded of an important life lesson. Success rarely comes quickly so you must never stop trying.
Independent or Stubborn?
Independence in one of my key attributes. I can only imagine that I gave my parents quite the fit while they were trying to raise me properly.
I taught myself to ride a bike, and refused help even when both arms and legs were skinned, and I had suffered more than one groin injury.
Learning to tie a tie, learning to shave and learning how to care for injuries are all lessons I taught myself. On more than one occasion I suffered injuries that should have been addressed by a doctor, but I never told my parents. Instead, I set out to treating them myself with the plan to tell only if the wound got worse. Fortunately, the wound never did get worse.
It’s amazing I survived childhood.
Both of my parents were incredibly stubborn, so I come by this quality honestly. My wife constantly picked on me about it.
But being stubborn has its strength. In the end, I learned how to ride that bike, even how to ride no handed. I survived all my injuries. My ties now always feature an elegant Windsor knot.
As a child I did not fully understand, but success only comes when you refuse to stop.
Is it worth it?
My debut novel, Getting Home, is not really my first novel. In fact, I have five other complete novels that I wrote as a young man.
I can’t explain exactly why I never pursued anything with those stories. The writer brain is often a harsh critic, so I never fully imagined that I could make a living with writing. Or I thought that no one would connect with my writing so there was no point in sharing it.
Last year I changed that mentality. I decided to throw caution to the wind and tossed Getting Home out into the world. It is definitely not selling at a pace to provide me with a living, but it did set a ball in motion that will eventually get me to that point.
This month’s Tale of a New Blogger post hasn’t gone live, yet. That’s partly because I am very discouraged by April’s numbers. Being sick much of the month is no doubt the reason for poor numbers, but it’s still disheartening.
That said, there is no intention on my part to give up. Six months in, I am still loving my blogging journey. I love planning, writing and illustrating blog posts. Sharing my current WIP – Paradise – gives me great joy. I even had the inspiration recently to write some new poetry that I will share later this weekend.
Success takes time. I have to keep reminding myself of that fact.
Rome Wasn’t Built…
I’m not even going to finish that line. We have all heard in many times before when someone was trying to encourage us because we had not reached a level of success we were aiming for. And it’s a very true statement.
So, how do you keep going?
First, be sure to celebrate the small victories.
Building a house is an excellent analogy. The first step in building a house is finding the right property and then the right location on the property. Next, the site is leveled out and the foundation is constructed.
Sometimes it is weeks and even months later before the framing begins. After the framing, the home is dried-in, or in other words, the roof is complete and the exterior doors and windows are all put in place. From the dried-in stage, many more weeks can pass before there is further progress.
This example is very current for me because I live in an area where there are a lot of new home construction. I am very happy to see this building because my community was decimated by wild fires a short time ago.
Seeing all the new houses at various stages of completion reminds me that most success comes in stages.
Now don’t get my wrong, I didn’t see any contractors or homeowners celebrating when the framing or dry-in process was complete. But they could have.
And That Means…
Writing a book, or any worthwhile project for that matter, is also not a steady forward moving process. Time and necessity (and sometimes illness) may force you to step away for a while. Writing yourself into a corner can take some time to overcome. Often because difficult choices have to be made to correct the problem.
And editing. Ugh! Editing is murder. Ask any writer, and they will all pretty much tell you the same thing. Editing is the worst.
Yes, I am sliding a little off topic. My point is that the final success of building a house or writing a book is built on many smaller successes along the way. That’s an important life lesson.
Celebrate when you complete that chapter or word goal. Pat yourself on the back when you rework that particularly difficult passage. Sing from the rooftops when you finish editing a section of text.
OK, maybe not the last one unless you don’t have any neighbors nearby. I wouldn’t want any of my dear readers to be carted off to a padded room somewhere.
But you get my point. Each success is just that – a success. It’s too easy to get fixated on the long-term goal and fail to see the progress being made. Own that success and let it empower you to continue moving forward.
But I’m Still Discouraged…
I can hear some of you saying right now that despite the small successes, the ultimate goal seems too unattainable so maybe you need to quit.
Stop. That. Thinking. Right. Now.
Or, if you absolutely have to have a pity party, I give you permission to have that party today. But that permission comes with a condition.
Tomorrow, you have to get up with renewed vigor and dive back into whatever project you are working on. If you are writing, get back to writing. If you are editing, keep editing, even through the tears and anguish that inevitably come with it. If you are building a house, go on to the next step in the building process.
For the time being, though, don’t think about your final goal. Instead, decide what the next step in your process should be. If it’s writing 500 words or editing a chapter, that is now your goal.
Reach the goal. Celebrate. Pick the next goal. Repeat.
You got this.
Yes, it’s true, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But when it was completed, what an amazing masterpiece it turned out to be.
Your work will be no different.
Until next time…