My son started school this year. We’ve lived in the area for a long time so it was a given he’d go to the local school. I had reservations about him attending, not because it’s a bad school but because this school is considered one of the best in our state. People move to the area from far afield just to get their children into this school. In terms of grades, our school excels. Sounds pretty good, huh? Maybe not.
Not every child can ace the class. Not every child excels academically. So where does that leave the rest? If they’re reasonably bright, then they’ll cruise through quite happily. If they’re not, I worry this means in a school that outperforms the majority of other schools that children who are average are made to feel less than average. And I’m not OK with that.
For now my son is happy. He has a great teacher and from what I can tell, it is a good school. At the moment, school is about playing with friends and if he learns some things along the way, he’ll put up with it. But I’m acutely aware of the messages being sent his way as he learns and grows. For me, being a successful human being is not all about grades. It’s about so much more than that.
For love or money?
At university, I was on the Dean’s Merit List two years in a row. I was proud of this achievement. Still am. However, when I look back at my professional career to date, I can think of another time I’m more proud of.
I’d been working in marketing for seven years and I’d reached a point where I was very unhappy. I’d spent the majority of my career in financial services and in this country, that’s the place to be if you want to be paid the big $ and climb the corporate ladder. Only one problem: somewhere along the way I’d stopped liking it.
Thanks to a very supportive husband, I took a sabbatical from marketing. We traveled. I started to see that turning my back on financial services marketing didn’t equate to failure, it represented opportunity. I had a few recruitment consultants try to talk me out of it. I wouldn’t earn nearly as much money working in other industries apparently.
Writers should learn to define what success means for them
When we returned to Sydney, I decided to stay working in marketing. From that point on, I’ve worked for smaller companies or for myself. I don’t earn as much as I used to, but I’m genuinely happy and I’m working on some really exciting projects I never would have had the chance to work on if I’d stayed on the ‘safe’ path.
I started writing fiction. My very first goal was to finish my creative writing course. My next goal was to finish writing my first book. I did this, then self-published Radiant to positive reviews. My next goal was to write five novels by a certain milestone age. I’m four years away from that age and I’m currently working on my fourth book. My other goal was to sign a publishing contract by that milestone age, which I did this year with The Boyfriend Sessions.
I chose love (and romance!)
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that success should be personal. Too often we let other people define our success, or think that we are only successful if we get good grades, earn lots of money or become famous. I’m calling bullshit on all of that.
If you’re a writer (or anyone else for that matter), have the courage to define your own success, because success comes in so many different forms: good partner, good wife, supportive daughter, loving mother, hard working professional.
Perhaps your sense of success doesn’t come from how you earn your living. Maybe it’s the fact that you finished writing your manuscript or ran 5km for the first time.
It’s up to you.
With this in mind, I’m going to leave you with ‘A manifesto for success’ created by the fabulous Kelly Exeter from her blog, A Life Less Frantic.
Tell me, how do you define success?
7 Replies to “Success: what does it mean for you?”
What a great post Belinda. After reading all the macho bullshit on “what the market did today” in the SMH, (sorry I follow the market) what a great relief to hear some real human words.
Let anyone define you, and you are lost.
I never use the word success, unless I am lying on a job application. For me, there’s is no success or failure, there is experience.
But there is another reality here, it’s only us with enough money who can write about how we feel. Without money, you can’t afford to write anything, anywhere.
“I never use the word success, unless I am lying on a job application.” – Love it!
Thanks for your kind words, Rob. And you are right: writing is a business. Without the income from my other profession (marketing) and the support of my wonderful husband, I wouldn’t be where I am with my writing. And as much as I love writing, I understand it is a business. At times it’s a hard reality, but a reality nonetheless. I guess I must really love this writing gig or something…
I used to define success as the ability to never have to eat Ramen Noodles ever again. Now I realize I actually like the occasional helping of Ramen Noodles. I don’t feel less successful for picking them up from the grocery store. Instead, I feel less hungry.
I love it Belinda!!! I really do! This spoke to me today. I feel like I’ve read about this idea before, but you put it in a way that really reaches out to me and makes me realize more about my own happiness and success. And you, my dear, are super successful and an inspiration and I love that you set goals for yourself and that you’ve achieved them! I feel like I never set goals for myself. At least not concrete ones because I’m afraid I won’t achieve them. But you just do it and then you literally DO IT. Love it. I’m so glad we’re friends cause you’re an amazing woman. 🙂
Aww, thanks Victoria! Glad my post resonated with you. I think setting goals is a fine balance. If you set them too high, they become too scary and you feel like you’ll never achieve them, which becomes de-motivating. Too low and they’re not worth striving for. I try to create goals that are realistic, hopefully achievable and just as little bit scary 😉 If I’d aimed to be published early on when I first started out then I think I would have gotten frustrated and then given up!
Good advice! Goals have to be achievable but also have to stretch you a bit to get you where you want to go. I think that’s my problem, setting intermediate goals instead of either really high goals or really low ones!