Re-Defining Success

March 17, 2024

By Nicole

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Yesterday, I had a pertinent conversation with someone I esteem. The platform he’s built. The visibility he’s gained. All of it is goalz to me. When you start talking 10’s of 1000’s of eyes on your creation, you’ve got my respect. But even when he shared those numbers, it seemed to be minimized. He seemed to downplay his accomplishments while they blew me away. This was similar to my friend, the six-figure success story I talked about in last week’s blog. But then I had to think about myself. 

I was approached recently by a student who wants to be a writer. And I quote her words, “I want to be a successful author like you someday.” Hmmm…successful? I don’t know about that. 

Accomplished? Yes. 

Achieved? Definitely. 

But successful? And then, I started thinking about my definition of success.

I know I wrote a blog about this before, but I seem to keep struggling with the term “successful” in my writing career. I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve gained some visibility. I’ve grown in my platform and reach. I now even have an award and a couple of nominations (which I’m still blown away by). But even with those met goals, I’ve struggled with seeing myself as successful.

“I just want to be able to pay my bills,” I said to my esteemed friend. He laughed and told me about a best-selling author with several books published. This author revealed she only receives $12,000 a year in book royalties. Whew! That’s not even minimum wage!

That startling fact was one of the reasons I was deathly afraid to pursue a full-time writing career. I knew it would be a lot of work with minimum pay. And guess what? I was right.

But now that I’m here, and others are calling me “successful,” 

I’m realizing that the goal poles look different in the writing industry.  Share on X

In business, you’re trained to climb the corporate ladder, get the promotion, aim for the title. These measurements of success are drilled into you. An increase in power. An increase in zeroes and commas in your paychecks. But just as I’ve had to shift from a “9 to 5” mentality, I’m realizing I have to shift from a milestone mentality as an entrepreneur. And more specifically, as a writer. 

I can write a fabulous book with gripping themes, complex character development, and an engaging plot and yet have only a handful attend my book signing (or no one at all). That doesn’t mean that I suck as a writer (at least I hope not!). That means I’m in an industry where you sow for a very long season until you reap. 

Your reward isn’t overnight. 

When we spoke to the kids the other week at the career fair, I shared this with them. I told them I’ve been doing this for ten years and am just now gaining momentum. There was another author present. She advised that sometimes success can happen faster. Sometimes it can, but it usually doesn’t. And it usually doesn’t when you’re on track for being a best-selling novelist who’s an independent.

No shade to those who make it quick, but the tried-and-true lane of book-writing generally requires life experience and time. It definitely takes a lot of time to write a whole novel. My first took two years, and that’s on the short end. Then you have to get it known. For an Indie author, this is its own challenge. But that’s where those snazzy degrees in business I received have come in handy.

I say all that to say, sometimes we don’t see our success because we’re using the wrong tools to measure it. 

For years, I compared myself with my peers, frustrated at my career stagnation and watching them fly past me. Why were the doors not being whipped open with each new degree I obtained? Why was I starting at pennies while others received actual salaries?

Now I know. It’s because my calling was different. 

I was never supposed to climb the ladder. I was supposed to soar above it.  Share on X

I am soaring now. That word has come to me time and time again. But the thing is, I was so focused on the goal I hadn’t even noticed.

Could it be that you didn’t notice either? 

What are the tools you’ve been using to measure your success?

How do you need to re-define your success?

What does soaring look like for you in this season?

In other news…Did you know that I just dropped my debut novel When Love Wins? You can check out more here! This time around there is an audiobook in addition to the eBook and paperback versions. Make sure you are subscribed to my email list to catch special offers, discounts, insider information, and more!

Are you on Instagram/Facebook? If so, please reach out. I have a series called “Word of the Day Wednesdays” where I share 5-10 minutes worth of nuggets that are on my heart, which I hope are encouraging to others on IGTV/FB Live! I have these also posted on my Youtube Channel.

And, lastly, if you have read “Stories for the (Urban) Soul, please put up an Amazon review here. I was SUPER encouraged and blessed when a new reader put up her review for my 2nd book which you can view here :).

As always, thank you for your support!

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