September 18, 2013

Being Passed is Not Failure: ROW80

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here in Northern California. A perfect run day--nice breeze, about 70 degrees, sun shining. Exercise is a stress-reliever, and it frees my creative mind. So I set out for my five miles.

Three people passed me. It frustrated me, so I ran faster. Struggling to keep up, I never considered that I didn't have to go faster just because somebody else was. Had I counted the people I had passed? Did I look down to see how my pace stood up against my goal?


I only noticed those that passed me. And I ran faster than I should have gone, and I ended up feeling defeated.

I didn't make note that I ran one mile much faster than I normally would. (Success)

I didn't notice the people I passed. (Success)

I didn't give myself credit for running five miles. (Success)

Instead, I came home feeling like a failure. As I was kicking myself, realization slowly dawned.

My success should be based on my goals and abilities, not others.

I feel the need to say that last sentence over and over again.

The same is true of my writing. I bemoaned my failures for most of Round 3.of A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80). Yet I had a successful blog tour with many wonderful reviews, sales for Chasing Memories have surpassed my first book in the same timeframe, I wrote about 15 guest post blogs this month, I increased my Facebook page likes from the 300 range to almost 900, I edited a wonderful book, and so on.

Confession: I had to sit here and really think about my successes for the round, but I could have rattled off what I didn't get done without hesitation.

There will always be someone who writes more books, sells more books, writes more words per day, runs faster, has kids who appear more well behaved, has the perfect husband (okay, that might be pushing it).

For Round 4, and beyond, I am going to set goals that will make me feel successful and stop comparing myself to everyone else. Because for all I know, the author who is sitting at number three on the New York Times bestsellers list is bemoaning the two people ahead of him/her.

How do you stay focused on your goals and achievements and stop comparing yourself to others?


Shah Wharton said...

Oh I needed to read this Tia. I am as guilty as the next girl of putting myself down for what I haven't achieved rather than praising myself for what I have. Thanks for the reminder and well done on your successes! :)

Jo Michaels said...

Mine is simple: my checklist. If I can cross just one thing off that list each day, I feel accomplished. One rule! It never has housework or anything not having to do with writing or publishing in some way on it. Housework is a gimmie. That stuff has to be done no matter what. But, it can always wait until I'm done with work.

Odd, isn't it? I just said, "work." Think about that for a moment. Your work is writing, editing, marketing, and publishing. Just because you don't leave the house every day, doesn't mean you don't work just as hard as someone who does. It probably means you work harder because you have no commute to interfere with your work day.

Do you think people who go into an office every day (men or women) sit at their desks and worry about laundry, floors, dust, or dishes? Or do they focus on one task at a time that has to do with their job?

Don't ever downplay what you do, and don't ever let someone else say anything about you being able to stay at home. If you went to an office, away from the house, every day and wrote, would that change the way they look at it? Would it change the way you look at it?

Set your schedule, make that checklist, and do whatever it is until it's done.

Besides, you've already succeeded so much. Look at how you just changed your own mindset. Being a mother and a writer, I'm "on" for around eighteen hours a day. It's freaking exhausting. There's no break from that. But, like you said, count what you did right every day. Success right there!

If you need to feel successful at work, make that checklist and treat work as it deserves to be treated. It's your job. Your success can only be measured against what you accomplish in a day. Let the feeling of marking things off your to-do list rush over you. It's like nothing in the world.

Why? Because no one pushed you to do it except you. That means everything.

BTW, congrats on the awesome sales numbers! Feels good, huh? :)


ruthnestvold said...

Excellent insight, Tia, and congrats on the sales! I have to work at looking on the positive side too, but I've gotten a lot better at it than I used to be! If it's any comfort, I think you really can learn the habit. When negative thoughts creep up on you, battle 'em down with positive, just like you did. It doesn't always work, but with time, it works more and more, at least in my experience. :)

Good luck! said...

As a recovering perfectionist, I can relate. From an outsider's point of view, though, I can honestly say that you've made amazing progress. Congrats on the book release! Congrats on the run!

And best wishes for the remainder of 2013. :)