Before my last site was taken down as I didn’t want to give them money anymore, I had a post about measuring success vs goals and so on. Being the lazy punk I can sometimes be, I decided it better to write a new post (because new is better) instead of digging the old one back up.
Much of this has been prodded to my recent endeavor of devouring Felicia Day’s memoir “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).” Why? Because she is a person I admire who has had great success in fields either directly related to things I want to do, or things very similar. I like examining people who are more successful than I am so that I can feel miserable about how I haven’t made anything work (specifically in my writing) and now I am 37 and not getting anywhere.
Oh my god I am a failure.
Reminding myself that I am not really a failure is tough. After all I just read about Felicia who is 6 months my junior and is hugely successful in her own right. (I am using Felicia as my example for this post, but there are others… I am using you, Felicia!) I have to remind myself often that my life is VERY different from the others I compare myself to. I didn’t grow up like Felicia did (despite both of us being military brats) and even though we may be similar in ways, we are entirely different in other ways. Comparing can be good, but in these cases, it is downright dangerous. In fact, I had even put a note on an old notebook to never compare to avoid these pratfalls.
I need to look inward to see why I am a failure… and you know what? Something else shows.
My life is the following:
- I am married with a son
- I have a full-time job that allows my wife to stay home and raise our son.
- I have worked full time or more (often 2 jobs and even 2 full time jobs at one time) since I was 18.
- I’ve worked over 8 years alone in an engineering/leadership role (all without a BS degree)
- I am currently employed as a technical manager (again, w/o a BS)
- While working full time since 18, I had over 8 years of also attending college at least with a half-load of courses.
- I attended an Ivy League school (although I dropped out) while I worked an engineering level job.
- I have written 3 full novels so far, several novellas, several short stories, and more all while dealing with family, work, school, etc in addition to the numerous projects in varying stages.
The above list isn’t entire in what I’ve done or where my life is. What it does say is that I am not a failure. But when I look at paltry to nonexistent sales on my books and even fewer views on my site or profiles, it is hard not to see me as a sham. Oh what have I done with my life?!
But, it is all about with how I choose to measure my success. As I want to make my career in writing, my measure of success is tied there. Thusly I look like I am a failure.
Obviously based on the above information, I am anything but.
But that is where I need to change how I look at the entire concept of success. Let’s say for instance that I was unmarried, had no kid, worked only a retail job (no insult to those who work retail, I am just in a higher-level job now), didn’t go to college, and lived with my parents, then I would definite reasons to call myself a failure for my writing. But when I have gotten as far as I have, it really does not matter that I haven’t made it yet with my writing career.
I have to be comfortable with that.
That’s where this all leads me. No matter who you are and where you’re at in regards to dreams, you must take a look at what you have accomplished not just in your quest but also in your life as a whole before even considering yourself a failure. It is most certainly not to make excuses; it is to illustrate that success is measured in multiple ways. So you’re not a blockbuster novelist or a singing sensation, but you’ve raised a family while working and going to school? Cut yourself some slack. Keep at it and some day it just might work out. And if it never does, then just change how you measure success and it’ll all be just fine.