In preparation of the craziness that can sometimes go hand in hand with the holidays I took advantage of an offer to head up to the mountains last weekend, and took a couple of days off from the world. The kids loved the snow, and the outdoor heated pool in the snow, and the adults were overjoyed at a clean house that didn’t require extra effort on their part.
Now we’re back to the regular world, getting in the extra hours to pad time off for the holiday season, shopping for last minute gifts (welcome to my boat if by last minute it also means all of them), struggling through the uphill battle of housework, and realizing that I feel a little bit like a failure because not a single decoration has been put up. Sometimes it is important to accept that not being able to keep all the balls in the air does not equal failure. Asking for help does not render you incapable. Sometimes things are going to slide off the plate, it’s how we choose to handle these situations that define us.
We spend so much time measuring our success by how much we do, measuring our value by how much we make, and when those things do not align we convince ourselves we have to pile more and more on to the plate to achieve something that seems out of our reach. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Now look around you.
Did you write something this year? Not this month, or this week, or even today. This year. Success!
Are you putting one foot in front of the other and keeping the bills paid (even if just barely)? Success!
Be aware that sometimes little successes are just as important, and just as celebrate-worthy as the big ones. Sometimes even more so because they are the foundation for the bigger successes.
Failure is giving up. Letting obstacles set you back. Success is overcoming. See possibility instead of problems.
I submitted a short story to a Writer’s Digest contest a couple months ago (back in September, read about it in the post Now That You Know You Can), and I got my notification email on Thursday. At first it felt like I had failed. They thanked me for my submission, but I didn’t end up on the list of winners or those that would receive honorable mentions in the article.
I let myself throw a pity party. I drowned in my sorrow for a minute (two if I’m being entirely honest). Then I picked myself up, shook myself off and decided two things.
One. I had succeeded. I submitted something for the first time ever. Success! Two. I was going to keep pushing forward and realizing more successes. I didn’t accept this as a sign of defeat – instead I chose to see it as an opportunity to lead me to new successes. Bigger ones.
Don’t let one moment of setback put failure in your mind – not a writing rejection, not a house that could be cleaner, and not the lack of holiday decorations at home. Keep taking the moment to look around and see the little successes. Let them push you forward to the next one. Maybe next time it makes the cut. And if not, let it guide you forward even more.
If you’re willing, I’d love to hear about your own obstacles, how you overcome failure, or even some of your successes. Let me know, either in the comments or feel free to contact me directly through the contact page or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org