When you have your sights set on individual goals you wish to achieve, it’s often easy to get frustrated and disappointed when it seems to take longer than you want.
Wow, heard that.
Aside from the fact I was an emotional wreck yesterday, (I’m a tad better, thanks for asking.) I found myself taking a hard examination of my progress in my writing career.
Shouldn’t have done that, especially in the pitiful, forlorn condition I was in, but you folks have long known I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
All I kept telling myself is that it seems as though instead of raising the bar on my career, I’m moving in the wrong direction.
To me, it seemed as if my career was moving backward.
It’s incredible how Humans are. It’s as if we mentally try to imagine what success looks like, and as we toil along, we continually measure where we are now to this blurry image of where we think we need to be. Even though we haven’t dissected the “where we think we need to be” enough to really know what it’s supposed to look like.
All we know is that “success” is some nebulous phantom idea we’ll be able to clearly recognize when we get there.
I readily admit I’m one of the worst at this.
My OSC (Obsessive Stat Checking) is not as bad as it used to be, and yet, I still check from time to time. The problem now is that I’m not checking for daily views and reads.
I’m checking for trends. Am I trending up? Am I trending down?
Which direction is my career heading today? Not a day has passed me by lately, where I haven’t inspected my “trends” and used those perceived trends as an indicator of how I’m doing.
I know, I know. Pitiful huh?
Well, this morning, a local colloquialism sprang into my thoughts as I was internally bemoaning my apparent lack of progress.
Even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.
Now, this shouldn’t require a ton of translation, except for the fact it is spoken in Texican. What this means is that even though you think you’ll never catch a break and nothing’s working out for you, there’s always going to be tiny victories, small “acorns” you find along your journey.
You just need to stop for a minute and see where you’ve been and pat your own durn back for hitting those mile markers.
I’m going to use myself as an example because, well, using anybody else’s progress would be kind of stupid. Their victories and successes belong to them, not me.
I’m not about to fall into the comparison trap this morning.
Been there done that.
And it sucked.
So, let’s take me, for instance. I’m certainly no superstar with hundreds of thousands of views and reads, but each and every one of those superstars started at the same place as I did.
Their rise may have been mercurial compared to mine or others, but we all began this journey at the same starting line. I signed up back in 2017 with no plan, no goals, and nary an inkling of what I wanted to, or needed to do to get where I didn’t know I wanted to go.
6 Views, 3 Reads, and 2 Fans.
Wow, just wow.
But as frustrated as I was, I realized I had nobody to legitimately blame but myself.
And since I’m usually late to the party (or arrive at the wrong location), it took me a bit before I got into the swing of things. Fast forward to January of 2018 when I decided I was going to quit dinking around and do this writing gig for real.
Again, not superstar material, but a significant improvement. Not something I should ignore, and indeed a tiny success I should have enjoyed.
“Should have” being the operative words here.
Even a little over a year ago, this tiny success was nothing more to me than a trend. Yes, an upward trend, but nowhere near my “imagined” goal of success.
So, regardless of the progress, in my opinion, I was a failure.
Fast forward to today, a point in my career where I’m still under the impression I’m taking two steps forward, and three steps backward.
Here’s what things look like.
However, there have been other acorns this old blind hog has found along the way.
I once wrote a piece stating I’d written over two hundred stories and had not a single time had any of those pieces distributed in topics.
Well, with the help of a certain superstar writer, someone whom I’ll not name in this story simply because I respect her too much to make her feel awkward, I hit my first one at the end of last year.
Since then, I’ve been getting the “distributed in topics” hit on a steady basis.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of one out of every five stories. Again, not ridiculously prolific, but some significant wins for little old me.
Still not good enough for me though. Every time I assessed my success level I felt I was nothing but a big old fat failure.
Even when I continued to discover more acorns.
In the late summer of last year, and again in the fall, I received invitations to post in publications, one of them having over five hundred thousand followers.
Tiny victories and yet, as writing careers go, I still seem to think I suck.
Even when I tapped my first month of $115.00 bucks, which somehow (and I still don’t know how the heck that happened) put me in the mysterious 7% category, it was not enough, it would never be enough.
So after writing over 400 stories and gaining 856 followers and sliding into the 7% quartile at least once in my career so far, I looked at my agonizingly slow “trend” and told myself, “you know, maybe I should just give up on this. I’m never going to make anything out of it.”
How absolutely insane is that?
How is it possible to deem oneself as losing the war after winning all of these tiny victories?
Well, you have to be as impatient, stubborn, irascible and pinheaded as I am.
I have no problem admitting that even though it seems as if I’m moving backward, I have been steadily moving forward, enjoying victories, both big and small.
And I’m willing to bet each of you are moving forward as well.
Even if you think you’re not.
So, take a moment to look back and examine those tiny victories you’ve gained as you plowed forward. They are the actual gauges of your success so far.
They are also the best way to level-set your work ethics when you decide to continue moving forward and take things to the next level.
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