“When we decide that the journey matters as much as the result, and that we want to have a good time most of the time: we radically alter our personal definition of success.” ~ Danielle LaPorte
I remember the first time I had the courage to tell people I was a writer. Before that moment I was a writer, I just didn’t claim it. I said “aspiring writer” or “hobbyist writer” or I didn’t tell people anything at all because, like most of us, I was afraid of being judged and rejected with “you’re not a real writer.”
So, there I am in the hall of the local church house and a guy asks me, “Hey, what do you do?”
Now, I’d been practicing, my friends. Practicing my butt off when I was alone: “I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.” I had Stephen King in my head, “Do you need someone to make you a paper badge with the word WRITER on it before you can believe you are one? God, I hope not.”
So imagine my excitement when I declare, “I am a writer.” (Wobbly little words tumbling out of my mouth and quivering on the floor at his feet, still wrapped in the mess of afterbirth.)
But I did it! I’d told the world! Claimed my title, no permission slip or paper badge needed!
Then he responds, “Have you made any money off it?” I look away. “No? Then you’re not a writer.”
Ouch. My heart fell into my stomach, my stomach came up out of my throat, and I immediately wanted to hide.
I felt horribly, terribly, instantaneously small and insignificant and just sat there in humiliating silence. Old Me had nothing left to say.
As much as I’d like to tell you this story has a Pretty Woman ending, it doesn’t. I didn’t publish a novel and make a kagillion dollars and go back to throw it in his face.
But that moment did teach me something even more valuable:
That my happiness is, for better or worse, tied to my definition of success, and that if I allow other people to set that definition, I will almost always be unhappy.
See, we tend to put the highest priority on the end result. Don’t get me wrong, I like results! They give me data, help me adjust, indicate whether or not I’m on track with my goals.
The problem comes when, in trying to prove ourselves to others and prove that we can be a writer and prove that we can claim this title and prove that we are good enough and prove prove prove prove prove, we always look toward that end result and discount everything in between.
But the power isn’t in the end result, it’s in our willingness to claim and do.
Claim and do are repeatable. They are controllable. I can directly affect the outcome of claim and do.
But results? Fickle. Variable (even if you claim the same thing and do it in exactly the same way!). And always vulnerable to others’ judgements.
For example, let’s look at “real writer.” Who defines it? What result means you’ve arrived?
Is it simply putting words on page (result)? Or someone who finishes a full manuscript (result)? Or someone who gets published (result)? Or, as that guy determined for me, only someone who gets paid for it (result)? Do I have to have 1 fan, 10 fans, 100,000 fans (all results)?
Do I want all those things? OF COURSE!
But if I wait for those results in order for me to be happy, feel fulfilled and claim what I really want (I am a writer!), then I will be waiting a long, long time.
And it will never, ever be good enough.
Because I’ll always be waiting for someone else to tell me that I’ve finally arrived.
That’s 7 billion people with potentially 7 billion differing definitions of what it means to be a writer. Even if every 7 people agreed on a single definition, that’s still roughly 1 billion people to which I’m handing my power, my choice and my control.
Claim who you are. Claim what you do. Claim your definition and kick everyone else’s to the curb.
Because it is only in understanding OUR perspective, OUR desire and OUR reality that we are empowered to find joy in the journey and fulfillment in the process.
Think about and journal that today: What is YOUR definition of writer? Of success? And are you willing to go through the process of changing your definition in order to better align with what it is you truly, truly want?
Loves & hugs,