Monday, January 07, 2013

Reaching for Success

I've had to battle surges of envy this year with several of my friends publishing books that are receiving national accolades and publicity. While I'm happy for them, their success makes me feel, well, unsuccessful.

So I've been asking myself what does being successful mean?

Reaching a certain income level?
Having a happy family?
Being recognized for my work and abilities?

What would it take to make me feel like a truly successful writer?

I’ve met many authors who say that if they could just get their name in print, they’d feel successful. Many of them do get their books published and when I talk to them, they often admit that they still don’t feel like a “successful author.”

I think that’s because our definition of success changes as we reach each new level in our lives. What we thought would make us feel like a success five or ten years ago may not make us feel successful today.

That’s why I decided to take a little time to think about what true success is and what it means. 

1)      To be successful means that I have done my best. If I have done all I can, expressed the truth as clearly as I am able and honored God by giving whatever I am working on my all, then I  can see what I've done as being successful. I'm not asked to measure by the world’s standards, but by God’s standards…and doing my best to use the talent God has given me is the beginning of success.

2)      To be successful means that I have exercised my creative talent. We are made in the image and likeness of a creative God. When we are creating, be it a painting, a garden or educating children, we are being like our God…which is what we are called to do in all things.

3)      To be successful means that I have done my part to bring about knowledge, insight, and love to further the Kingdom in earth.  

I'm not sure that I can say I've actually done these things, but this year I am going to make a more concerted effort to try, because although it's terribly tempting, when I measure my success only in economic terms, I fall short of what our God has in mind for me. 

I remind myself that St. Francis de Sales’ famous book, “Invitation to the Devout Life” was written for a small, private audience and yet it continues to inspire thousands every year. The letters of the Little Flower were written only because her superior told her to and with no expectation that anyone outside the convent would ever read them. Yet those same letters were instrumental in having St. Therese of Lisieux named a Doctor of the Church and in creating a new way of looking at God’s love and mercy.

...but I still wouldn't mind having a best seller!

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