When you hear or see the word ‘success’, what comes to mind? Money? Your byline on the front page? A happy family? A rise on the corporate ladder? Success means different things to each of us and there are a myriad different roads to that success. And while I’m not an expert in this area, I have learned a thing or two based on the little victories in my life and various pieces of advice I’ve received. Tucked into the pocket of my adulthood are 5 things I think are woven into the tapestry of a successful life.
There are things you have to do or be in order to be a writer. And there are things you have to do or be in order to realize success in your life. These 5 life tips are written in terms of being a writer cause it’s my niche and I think the principles are all the same no matter what you’re pursuing in life.
1. In order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.
A writer who doesn’t read, is like a cook who doesn’t eat or a musician who doesn’t listen to music. If you want to be a writer, a composer of sentences, you’ve got to read. And not just read but read well. Don’t just read one kind of book, read broadly and outside of your comfort zone. Allow yourself to mature, learn and grow as a reader and that’s one of the ways you’ll mature, learn, and grow as a writer. Get to know style, structure, and voice. Stretch your brain with subjects that you may not be naturally in to. Challenge yourself with topics that you’ve always been interested in but didn’t think you were ‘smart’ enough to understand. This takes some work but it’s worth it.
While I think that reading is important not matter who you are, the principle also holds true when it comes to your actual life’s work. Submerge yourself in those things that will enhance your talents. The more you engage in your talents and passions, the better you understand what it means to be whatever you want to be. No matter what kind of work you do, don’t be satisfied to know just what your job requires. Familiarize yourself with the context in which you work. It will help you do your job better, you’ll become a better conversationalist and you’ll set yourself up for upward mobility in your organization. Just remember: cooks eat, musicians listen to music, and writer’s read. What do you do?
2. In order to be a writer, you have to write.
So, if you’re going to be a writer, you have to write. Well, DUUUUHHH!
Sometimes it’s not that simple. Writing is hard and there are times when it’s more simple not to write. But the desire doesn’t go away–so you have to do it! Saying ‘you have to write’ means that you do it even when it’s hard. Just because you’ve got a passion for something, doesn’t mean it’s going to come easily. Having a passion for something means that even when it’s hard, you keep doing it.
Same goes for anything else in life. If you want to succeed at something, you have to do it. You don’t wait around for ideal circumstances, you don’t wait until you know better, you just do it. And you do it when it’s hard and you don’t want to. The BF once told me that this is what separates the boys from the men – the ability to keep doing something when it’s hard or you feel like it’s not worth it anymore. The stuff of success is doing the hard things no matter what.
Note: I have to add a caveat – this doesn’t mean that you do things thoughtlessly or recklessly, without consideration. But sometimes, we sit around and daydream about what we could be doing, despairing that we’ll never get a chance to do this, or be good enough to do that. Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock, you have to find it yourself. Be prayerful and considerate of your options but don’t sit around and wait for easy – be purposeful and just do it!
3. In order to be a writer, you have to be vulnerable.
Writing is putting your heart on the page and hoping no one steps on it or rips it to shreds. It takes a lot of nerve to be that transparent with your thoughts. And it takes a lot of guts to be okay when someone doesn’t like what you have to say. A writer has to care more about writing and what she’s writing and less about what people think about it. The ability to be that vulnerable is tough but it’s necessary.
There are times in life when you just have to be vulnerable in order to get anywhere. Asking someone out, going on a job interview, striking up a conversation with someone who probably wouldn’t normally talk to you. That first step, that first move – these are moments of vulnerability cause you don’t know what’s going to happen and your feelings may take a hit as a result of your actions. But let me tell you something. Risking your pride and your feelings is a part of maturing and growing as a human being. There’s no growth where there’s no risk and where there’s no risk, there’s no success. Care enough about your goal to take chances and be vulnerable.
4. In order to be a writer, you have to be willing to listen.
Confession – I struggle with this. As a word lover, I’m too quick to speak and even slower to listen. It’s really not cool and I have removed my foot from my big mouth on many, many occasions in my short life. But listening is an important quality in a writer. And not just when it’s your turn to listen in a conversation, but just in general. Be aware of what’s going on around you. It could spark your next blog post or start an interesting conversation. You never know!
The same holds true in life. Sometimes you really don’t have to talk. If you’re like me, you have a zillion thoughts going on at once, multiple tabs open and comments on the ready. But just because you have something to say, doesn’t mean you have to say it. Practice listening. Wait for people to finish their sentence before you respond and think about what you’re going to say (my parents just heard the hallelujah chorus in their heads and have no idea why!). Maybe this isn’t an issue for you, but for all y’all fast talkers out there, be slow to speak and quick to listen. Believe me, people will appreciate it!
5. In order to be a writer, you have to love it.
A writer doesn’t write for the sake of being a writer, a writer writes because she can’t help but write. This quote says it best:
In order to be a success in any area of you’re life, you have to want it enough. If you you’re going to invest your time and effort doing something, make sure you love it. This doesn’t mean quitting your day job, abandoning your responsibilities, or ditching your commitments simply because you don’t love them. Life comes in seasons and everyone has to pay their dues or do things simply as the means to an end. Whatever you’re working towards, love it enough to use those things that you may not love, or even like, as learning opportunities and stepping stones along the way.
Success, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. One may look at the family who drives a old van and always seems to be struggling financially as not successful until they see the joy of the children, the contentment on the wife’s face and the spring in the husband’s step – that is priceless.
You’re not here to please everybody else, just One Person. When God looks at you, you want to be sure He likes what He sees you spending your life on. He created you with a specific purpose in mind. That purpose doesn’t necessarily mean something seemingly grandiose like mission work in a foreign country, leadership in a far reaching ministry organization, or a best selling book. Sometimes that purpose looks more like faithful service in your local church, witnessing on the job, or raising children that love the Lord. The stuff of a successful life is deciding to do whatever it is that God placed you on this earth to do no matter how hard it is or how much it costs you.
I don’t know what challenges you’re facing this week, but I do know one thing – God’s got your back. He has a beautiful, unique purpose for your life, better than anything you could ever hope for or dream of. Don’t chase the world’s standard of success. Embrace God’s great plan for your life and work diligently to become all that He created you to be!
Have a blessed week, y’all!