Tag Archives: success

What’s Your Definition of Success?

In my mind, success looks like stacks and stacks of books at a wholesale store.

Every time I go to Costco, I pass the end table where the books are and I look and I say to my kids, “Someday, my books will be there.” To me, that a mark of success.

If I come to that point in my career, then I have a tangible reminder of the success I’ve accomplished. And I want this to be the right kind of book — a novel — not an “I lived through a disaster and now I’m going to tell you my story” kind of book.

What's Your Definition of Success?

The authors who have books at Costco are household names. That’s why they’re there. So when ordinary moms like me are out buying cereal and fruit and twenty pounds of chicken thighs, they can look and say “THAT BOOK!” or “THAT AUTHOR!” if you get your books at Costco, you’ve already paid a LOT of dues. You’ve put in your time and worked hard. Those books at Costco sell themselves.

If Costco is my measure of success, it has to come after a million more tiny successes preceding it.

I will have to be successful in building a platform and attracting the type of publisher who usually deals with Costco. I’ll have to write not just THE book but book after book after book to get me to the place where THE BOOK is more attainable.

My definition of success is not a one-time deal after all. It's a journey.

But if I am so bold as to have such a finite measure, then there are some questions I need to ask myself.

If this is my definition of success then what will happen after I achieve it? What then?

If this is my definition of success then what will that make me if I don’t achieve it?

What if I do all the work, write all the words, put out all the books, develop the platform and never make that goal of having books at Costco?

Or what if this? What if you get to the goal and you find out that it is not satisfying? What if that goal isn’t enough?

I believe a healthy definition of success is one that doesn’t tie our identities to it.

The goal of having books sold at Costco is kind of arbitrary, really. Perhaps there are other measures that are just as satisfying, just as attainable and just as worthy of a celebration. Maybe my definition of success should include other things too, like selling thousands instead of hundreds, getting on a best-seller list, or earning enough that I could support my family.

I also believe that healthy definition of success should be based on what I can do today.

  • Did I write 1000 words?
  • Did I read great books?
  • Have I tackled my to-do list?
  • Have I practiced the discipline that being a writer requires?

If I focus on these day to day goals my big Costco goal becomes less intimidating. It also becomes less important. I should be proud of what I do on a daily basis so that if my “success” never comes, I can look back and say, “I did my very best.”

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I’d like to suggest that we balance our to-do list and daily word counts with a mindfulness of contentment. Today is a success if we give all we’ve got.

We are successful if we:

  • Choose to work with hope.
  • Tick things off the to-do list with joy.
  • Don’t beat ourselves up if we fail.
  • Put relationships first.
  • Never compare what we do to what others do.
  • Stretch ourselves, grow as artists.
  • Never give up.
  • Enjoy the journey.
  • Write regularly.
  • Read regularly.

Conversely, we are failures if we:

  • Compare ourselves to others.
  • Try to please everyone.
  • Disrespect the rules of excellence.
  • Disrespect our readers with shoddy work.
  • Feel sorry for ourselves when we don’t succeed on the first try.
  • Obsess about numbers, like sales or followers or rankings.
  • Lack discipline.
  • Expect instant success.
  • Isolate ourselves from other writers.
When we get to the end of our writing careers, we need to be proud of what we’ve done, who we’ve touched, and how we grew into something bigger.
Perhaps it will translate into sales somehow or a bestselling list or a table at Costco. You never know.

Success should not just be what happens to us that day. Success comes every day that we make good decisions about how we spend our time, what attitudes we embrace, in whom we’ve encouraged.

Ted Talks have an amazing collection of videos about this concept of success and how it shapes us. I highly recommend them. If that doesn’t inspire you, check out this article on how famous people define success. Note how few of the definitions are as absolute as my Costco one. Then, Harvard Business Review asks the same question I ask, “What Does Success Mean To You?” Perhaps by seeing what the experts say, you can clearly define what success means to you and be inspired to be excellent every day.

So what is your definition of success?

 What are you doing today to make it happen?


If you liked this post, you may also like:
Top 10 Effective Ways I Deal With My Evil Inner Critic or,
Top 10 Things You Should Be Saying To Yourself That Will Help Make You More Successful

 


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

The SMART Way To Set Goals For The New Year A Guest Post By Rebecca Laffar-Smith

Rebecca Laffar-Smith is one of the great writers in the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group.
Rebecca Laffar-Smith is one of the great writers in the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group.

The last twelve months are swiftly disappearing in our rear vision mirror.

That means it’s that time of year when we reflect on what the past year has brought into our lives and start to think about the year to come. We look back at those New Year’s Resolutions we made many months ago and wonder how our good intentions to lose 15 pounds turned into the extra 5 pounds now sitting on our hips. And, as writers, we look at our aspirations to write more (more poetry, more short stories, more books, more screenplays), and wonder what happened to those good intentions to get more finished.

The truth is, New Year’s Resolutions aren’t really goals.

Their “what ifs” that we fool ourselves with when we’re railing ourselves for the shortcomings of the year just gone. Real goals can be made at any time of year. Real goals look at truly measurable outcomes based in motivations we can put our whole hearts into. Real goals, are made in incremental milestones with deadlines and data.

So, let’s look at some of the goal setting we can do as writers that truly will increase your productivity and move your business in a positive direction.

How Will You Know When You Are

Word Count vs. Time Quota Targets

One of the first goals writers should get into the habit of setting comes down to Word Count or Time Quota (and sometimes both). I’ve noticed there tends to be balls of court here, some writers love to track and plan their progress by the number of words they write or aim to write each day. Others prefer to commit themselves to a specific ratio of time and consider the butt-in-chair aspect the testament to progress regardless of the number of words accomplished day-to-day.

Both of these techniques are effective and I recommend both. In fact, fellow self-publishing author, Johnny B. Truant of the Self Publishing Podcast crew does both at the same time! Each day he has his scheduled writing block put aside. It’s roughly around the same time each day although sometimes he alters the hours, waking earlier to finish earlier or if he has a tight project deadline (stay tuned to learn about those) and needs to achieve more words than an average day. But he also knows what he can generally expect from his word count within that time-frame and aims to at least match it, or even surpass it, so that he’s constantly striving to increase his writing speed and do more with less.

But the truth is, combining the techniques might not work for you. So try one for a week, try the other for a week, try both for a week, and then listen to what you’re instinctively finding improves your productivity.

The important thing is to make that goal, decide what you feel you can expect from yourself each writing day, and develop the habit of accomplishing that milestone regularly.

How can I get my family to leave me alone?
I mean, pretty please, with sugar on it?

Other Author Milestones

Speaking of author Milestones, there are a few others you might want to consider. After all, while writers spend a lot of time writing, it’s not all that we need to do to build a successful business as authors. Yes, we need to write and finish new works, but we also need to get those works out into the world and do our part to ensure the world can find them.

1. Agent/Editor Submissions & Query Letters
If you’re going the traditional route, you might want to consider setting goals for approaching agents and publishers. Make a note of the works you have available to circulate, make a list for each of those of the agents and/or publishers who might be interested, and then set yourself a goal to send out a set number of query letters each week or month. Or, if that feels a bit too overwhelming, start smaller, start by setting yourself a goal to make a list of your available works by the end of this week, and a goal to make a list for the agents/publishers for the title at the top of that list by the end of next week. The important thing is to continue making small incremental steps. Focus on the things you have the power to accomplish. You can send out 5 queries, but you can’t control the outcomes of those queries, so make sure your goals are always within your power. Set the goal to send the query, rather than setting a goal to get an acceptance.

2. Author Talks, Workshops & Book Signings
Regardless of the traditional or self-published path you might take, an effective way of building your business and brand as an author is with in-person events. When you’ve got published works in the world, it’s time to look at possibilities for giving presentations. Set yourself a goal to contact your local libraries, bookshops, and schools to offer personal appearances. Don’t be afraid to state the appearance fee you expect for your time, you’re a pro and these businesses do business all the time with other professionals like you so they won’t be shocked if you ask to be paid for your time. The point is, you’re spreading the word to let people know that you’re available to give presentations. In this case, you can probably safely assume that you’ll be able to find enough people interested in having you to line up one every three months, or every month, or every week depending on your profile, expertise, and presentation skills. Set a goal to schedule accordingly.

Posting, Promotional, and Production Schedules

Speaking of schedules, goals go hand in hand with calendars and dates. It’s one thing to have some sort of ethereal aspiration to someday write the greatest literary novel in the world, but it’s much more empowering (and ultimately more likely to be accomplished) if you give yourself a specific project and set deadlines. I know, deadlines, they’re those cool things that make that “whooshing sound” as they fly by. But if you’re not Douglas Adams then it probably makes more sense to stick to your deadlines. This is especially true if you’re working with others, (agents, publishers, or freelancers,) because meeting deadlines is one of the best ways to show your respect for other people and for yourself. It’s the sign of a professional, and in every way you want to appear a professional in the writing industry. Professional writers plan and schedule the growth of their author business.

Posting Schedule
If you have a blog or periodical release like a newsletter, consider developing a posting schedule. Will you post at least once a week? Every other day? Or perhaps only once a month? Regardless of the frequency of your schedule, having one improves your odds of getting those updates written and of growing your blog or mailing list’s audience and engagement.

Promotional Schedule
The same can be said for all of your promotional efforts. How regularly will you engage your readers on social media? On which social media streams will you focus your energy? Will you contribute guest posts or interviews to bloggers and print media? How often, and how many press releases and queries will you send out to ensure the interest keeps your schedule filled?

Production Schedule
I told you we’d get to this. A production schedule looks at the body of works you’d like to produce in the coming months or years. What projects do you have lined up for the months ahead? Are you working on a book right now? When do you plan to have the first draft finished? How long will you take in your edits? When can you expect to start on your next project and do you already have next projects in mind? If you working on more than one project have you given each it’s own target deadline? If you’re self publishing, what is your release calendar like? Is it going to coincide with real-world events that can improve your sales?

Woah! Slow Down!

Okay, so I’ve overwhelmed you. I’m sorry. The truth is, these are all important questions, but they’re also advanced author business questions. They’re the sort of questions you begin to understand and answer over time, by starting with one small goal today. You build your system, your business plan, and you build these goals into that plan over time because it’s all too much to try to do every single one of them right now.

The important thing is that you do begin to set those targets. Focus on goals that are S.M.A.R.T!

The SMART Way To Set Goals For The New Year

S = Specific:
Make sure you’ve narrowed down your goal to one solid, specific achievement. If you need to, make multiple milestone goals toward your bigger goals so that you always have a firm sense of the next step.

M = Measurable:
Make sure it’s something you can track because if you can’t measure it, how will you know you succeeded in accomplishing it?

A = Attainable:
It has to be something you have power over accomplishing and that you honestly believe, based on your past experience of your abilities, that you can achieve. Don’t set a goal to run a marathon tomorrow if you’re only just learning to walk today and don’t set a goal to have a best seller because you can’t control your buyers, you can only control yourself!

R = Relevant:
It has to be something that matters to you right now. Something you truly do want to accomplish. Why bother setting a goal to learn to play the violin if you’d rather play the piano? Make sure your heart is engaged in your dreams!

T = Time-Bound:
Remember, deadlines! It matters. That distant someday will always remain distant unless you give yourself a time-frame within which to work.

With that in mind, what one goal are you going to set yourself right now? And while I gave you a pretty scary list of goals to think about into the future, what other milestones and goals do you think would benefit a writer’s business and branding?

Rebecca Laffar-Smith is a West Australian science fiction and fantasy novelist. In 2010, she gave up a successful 12 year freelance career to focus on her three loves; family, community, and fiction. Now, she coordinates on committees supporting local writers and bringing industry events and awareness into the local community. She launched her debut novel, The Flight of Torque, in November 2014, and her production schedule is packed full of the upcoming titles she’ll be releasing in 2015. Subscribe to her author list to find out what she’s working on next and where you can catch her in person.

How Will You Know When You Are Successful?

Every time I go to Costco, I pass the end table where the books are and I look and I say to my kids, “Someday, my books will be there.”

How Will You Know When You Are

 

In my mind, success looks like stacks and stacks of books at a wholesale store. If I come to that point in my career, then I have a tangible reminder of the success I’ve accomplished. And I want this to be the right kind of book — a novel — not a “I lived through a disaster and now I’m going to tell you my story” kind of book.

The authors who have books at Costco are household names. That’s why they’re there. So when ordinary moms like me are out buying cereal and fruit and twenty pounds of chicken thighs, they can look and say “THAT BOOK!” or “THAT AUTHOR!” if you get your books at Costco, you’ve already paid a LOT of dues. You’ve put in your time and worked hard. Those books at Costco sell themselves.

If Costco is my measure of success, it has to come after a million more tiny successes preceding it.

I will have to be successful in building a platform and attracting the type of publisher who usually deals with Costco. I’ll have to write not just THE book but book after book after book to get me to the place where THE BOOK is more attainable.

My definition of success is not a one time deal after all. It’s a journey.

But if I am so bold as to have such a finite measure, then there are some questions I need to ask myself.

If this is my definition of success then what will happen after I achieve it? What then?

If this is my definition of success then what will that make me if I don’t achieve it?

What if I do all the work, write all the words, put out all the books, develop the platform and never make that goal of having books at Costco?

Or what if this? What if you get to the goal and you find out that it is not satisfying? What if that goal isn’t enough?

I believe a healthy definition of success is one that doesn’t tie our identities to it.

The goal of having books sold at Costco is kind of arbitrary, really. Perhaps there are other measures that are just as satisfying, just as attainable and just as worthy of a celebration. Maybe my definition of success should include other things too, like selling thousands instead of hundreds, getting on a best-seller list, or earning enough that I could support my family.

I also believe that healthy definition of success should be based on what I can do today.

Did I write 1000 words? Did I read great books? Have I tackled my to-do list? Have I practiced the discipline that being a writer requires? If I focus on these day to day goals my big Costco goal become less intimidating. It also becomes less important. I should be proud of what I do on a daily basis so that if my “success” never comes, I can look back and say, “I did my very best.”

I’d like to suggest that we balance our to-do list and daily word counts with a mindfulness of contentment. Today is a success if we give all we’ve got.

How Will You Know When You Are

We are successful if we:

Choose to work with hope.
Tick things off the to-do list with joy.
Don’t beat ourselves up if we fail.
Put relationships first.
Never compare what we do to what others do.
Stretch ourselves, grow as artists.
Never give up.
Enjoy the journey.
Write regularly.
Read regularly.

Conversely, we are failures if we:

Comparing ourselves to others.
Trying to please everyone.
Disrespecting the rules of excellence.
Disrespecting our readers with shoddy work.
Feeling sorry for ourselves when we don’t succeed on the first try.
Obsessing about numbers, like sales or followers or rankings.
A lack of discipline.
An expectation of instant success.
Isolating ourselves from other writers.

What is my definition of success?
What is my definition of success?

When we get to the end of our writing careers, we need to be proud of what we’ve done, who we’ve touched, and how we grew into something bigger.

Perhaps it will translate into sales somehow or a bestselling list or a table at Costco. You never know.

Success should not just be what happens to us that day. Success comes every day that we make good decisions about how we spend our time, what attitudes we embrace, in whom we’ve encouraged.

Ted Talks have an amazing collection of videos about this concept of success and how it shapes us. I highly recommend them. If that doesn’t inspire you, check out this article on how famous people define success. Note how few of the definitions are as absolute as my Costco one. Then, Harvard Business Review asks the same question I ask, “What Does Success Mean To You?” Perhaps by seeing what the experts say, you can clearly define what success means to you and be inspired to be excellent every day.

So what is your definition of success?  What are you doing today to make it happen?