Success Part 1: How You’re Stopping Yourself From Having It

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Author, Author Advice, Publishing, Writing | 5 comments

This post was inspired by a friend who seems to have lost their way a little. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to you, it’s happened to all of us. Here’s a not-so-quick reminder of why what you’re doing, right now, is amazing…

It’s perfectly natural for us, as individuals, to measure success against those around us. They make more money than I do, they’re higher up on the totem pole, they sell more books then me. But does any of that really matter?

If you write and publish a book with a goal of having a complete stranger read and enjoy your work, success, for you, is reached the moment you find that one person. Out of an endless supply of readers, all you need is one to claim success. Of course it’s also natural, and in my opinion a good thing, to be constantly changing our goals and striving to push ourselves further. So once you get that one reader, are you successful, or does your goal change? Do you then consider success 5 happy readers, then once you reach that goal, 100, and so the cycle continues?

When I reach one goal, I always set another. I push the threshold at which I want to succeed. The problem some of us make (and we’ve all been guilty at it at one point or another) is that after we accomplish these goals and we set our sights higher, we tend to get disappointed when we don’t achieve them the time frame we allotted. The mistake being we forget our earlier successes.

When you first start our on your adventure of choice, your goals are tiny in comparison to what they become. This is good. You want to set yourself attainable goals, without selling yourself short. If you start out with a pipe dream and a short amount of time to achieve it, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. However, if you push the boundary for success bit by bit, your journey is full of tiny victories. This is good. As you achieve those small victories, you push the envelope a little more each time. First it’s 30 sales a month, then you reach that and you want 60, then you want 150, then you want 1000. There is nothing wrong with striving for more, but if you miss your goal, whether it be small or large, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you have to give yourself more time and work harder towards that goal.

You’ve seen success and had personal victories throughout your entire journey. It started out as a goal to finish writing a book. You did that. Then it was to be published and to have someone, anyone, enjoy your story. That happened. Then you wanted hundreds of people to love it. That happened too. But just because you reached that goal of a few hundred happy readers, does that complete discredit your success for finishing the book in the first place?

There’s something to be said for achievement and success; it’s in the eye of the beholder. When it’s all said and done, you’re the one that measures your own success. If you’re always too busy looking 3 steps ahead and comparing yourself to the next person, you’ll miss the mile markers you’re passing now. There will always be a bigger goal, but don’t stop yourself from enjoying your current success. Don’t forget how great it felt just to finish the story, or to read that first great review. Those were huge moments and without them, you wouldn’t be where you are now. There were 5, 10, 100 goals you surpassed before you got here. At the time, those were pivotal times on your journey. Your goals grow with you, so remember that your smaller goals, when scaled down to where you were at that point in time, were equally impressive. They were something to be proud of then, but more importantly, they’re still something to be proud of.

All of this is of course, just my opinion, but in a nutshell, I think if everything you achieve is immediately overshadowed by that which you haven’t, you’ll never allow yourself to be successful.

Success is not measured by how well you fulfill the expectations of others,

but by how honestly you live up to your own expectations.

Linda Principe


  1. GREAT Post, Matt; you — and your success — continue to be an inspiration! ()FIRST!)

  2. Matt you are so insightful lately and this post was great. I have to agree with you that we are always pushing ourselves to that next level. I find I do this with blogging and reading very often. If I can get 15 books read one month then I want to beat that goal the next month and I want to be able to get a great following on my blog. I want to be able to start off with 1 follower in 2010 and now I've built up to 20K+ page views per month but I still want to see if I can get that higher over time and dedication to a hobby that I enjoy.

    Keep setting those goals!

  3. “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” Pat Riley

    Quote from BB player that hangs in my classroom.

    Nicely said Matt.


  4. Thank you for this! It was actually something that I needed to hear/read. Obviously I'm not a writer, but I am a blogger and I think all this applies just as well. I, too often, compare myself to other bloggers who have more followers, more comments, more posts, etc. It's so easy to get lost in envy and forget what we've built and what we've accomplished. I have to remind myself that our blog is pretty darn great and that I should be proud of that!

    I will always want more! As humans, we need to want more to grow…but I need to remember that I have to do it for ME. Not because I want to be bigger, badder, or cooler than some other blog.

    Thanks for the positive words!
    You ROCK!
    Isalys / Book Soulmates

  5. Thanks Rusty, your support is so appreciated!

    Alexa – You're welcome and you're damn right! You got into blogging for your love of books. You wanted to share that love and help spread the word to readers who might not encounter a story along their travels. You can't compare your success to other blogs, you can only be happy with what you've managed to achieve. I think you're doing pretty dman good!

    Val – I had yet to hear that quote. I love it, so thank you for sharing 🙂

    Isalys – You are rocking it. You hosted some very grateful indie authors last month for your blog event and it was spectacular. You incorporated some fresh ideas I had yet to see done (see: Amazing badass blogger chat) and it was so much fun. Which is kind of the point right? You're good at what you do, you love to read, and you have fund blogging. Not that it matters much, but in my opinion, you're doing great and you're definitely on the right track.

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