Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Dark Side of Success and What I’m Changing in the New Year

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.
–Yoda

Failure is not the worst thing that can happen to you. It can be a friend, if you learn from it. The worst thing that can happen is to lose your identity and forget why you’re doing what you’re doing. I’m ashamed to say that happened to me recently.

The Dark Side of Success and What I’m Changing in the New Year

We tend to think that success is the destination, the thing we’re striving to accomplish. But in reality, it’s just another stop on the journey of life. We need to remember the goal is to keep moving, and the most dangerous thing we can do is stand still for too long.

It’s probably no coincidence I saw the new Star Wars film a week after a life-altering personal retreat. I’ve always loved that franchise and this most recent contribution to the canon did not disappoint. In preparation for it, I read up on the history of Star Wars and learned a few interesting things I recently detailed in an article for Entrepreneur.

While writing the piece, I found myself relating to the worst things success can bring you — essentially, the fear of losing the thing you worked so hard to build. In a nutshell, what made Star Wars great was that it was a risky endeavor, constrained by its own limitations, and fueled by a movement of die-hard fans. And these are the very things its creator seems to have forgotten later.

But this is not a recrimination of George Lucas. It’s an indictment against myself.

Starting down the dark path

Five years ago, I began a risk-filled journey in an attempt to write full-time. I had little free time and less money to pursue my passion. But I had to try. So I used what resources were available and began to build a community online.

Eighteen months later, I had quit my job, launched a business, and published two books. The future looked bright. Fast forward to the present, and I just finished my most frenetic year yet. It was so busy I didn’t stop to ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”

When I finally did, the answers surprised me:

  • Because people expected it and I didn’t want to disappoint them.
  • Because I felt like this is what I had to do to succeed.
  • Because I was too afraid of being ignored or irrelevant to try something new.

Over the past year, I’ve achieved almost everything I ever thought I wanted, at least in terms of typical measurements of success — money, fame, freedom — and it wasn’t what I thought it’d be. It was neither overwhelming, nor did success ruin my life like many fear.

If anything, it was just a little disappointing. Nobody ever tells you that the hard part isn’t accomplishing your goals. It’s figuring out what you want to accomplish in the first place.

When goal-setting steers you wrong

Last January, I set some goals I never would have thought of attempting just a few years before. By December, I had checked them all off my list and was left with as a sense of longing, as if my soul was saying, “Is this it?”

Maybe it wasn’t.

So I went on a retreat, and at the eleventh hour when some of the best rescue operations come, I read a book that changed my perspective. A friend from Twitter advised that I pick up Parker Palmer’s A Hidden Wholeness, and it was the fresh air I didn’t know I needed. The message is that the source of our greatest trauma is living the “divided life” in which our souls and roles do not integrate.

Here’s an excerpt:

Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the “integrity that comes from being what you are.

Can you relate? I can.

This past year for me has been filled with “wearing other people’s faces” as May Sarton wrote. I’ve made multiple attempts at trying to achieve other people’s success and mistakenly thought that’s what I needed. But none of it fit.

This has nothing to do with money or fame or worldly success and everything to do with trying to fill a role instead of trying to find my soul. These past few months, I’ve been searching for myself, and at times, the search has proven elusive. I went down wrong roads and pursued what I thought I wanted only to get it and realize it wasn’t right for me.

If you listen, your soul will tell you what it needs, what you need. So when I get too far from “home” — from who I really am — I can feel it. Now that I’ve started listening again, I feel vulnerable but know that I’m on my way to living an undivided life, and I can think of nothing better.

The three commitments

I’m terrible at goal setting but still aspire to get better at it. This recent reflection was more about connecting to who I am. During the process, three things came to mind. So here are my commitments to myself (and, in a way, to you):

  1. Trust. I will never betray the trust of a reader, friend, or confidante even when it furthers my own ambitions — especially then. I will always seek to be honest in all things I do and say. When things are obscure, I will seek to make them as clear as possible, so no assumptions are made.
  2. Integrity. I will be who I say I am, and when I am not, I will admit it. I will live by my values as best I understand them. I will not lead a divided life and will not betray my conscience, even when doing so could lead to more success. For me, this means that I am a creative who runs a business, not a CEO who happens to write. And that distinction is important to me.
  3. Generosity. I will commit myself to serving the needs of others, which means first taking care of myself both spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I will give my best to my family, friends, community, and readers (in that order). I recognize that my life is not about me, but that my gifts are meant to be given away.

In other words, I will be who I am even if that means it makes me less famous or not as rich. I would rather be myself and fail than play the role of someone else and get praise for being untrue to myself.

And that, friends, is all I have to say about that.

Resources

If you are reflecting on your own integrity, I suggest the following resources to help you:

Did you ever succeed (or fail) at something that revealed to you what you really wanted out of life? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: simononly via Compfight

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Excellent piece, Jeff. Glad to know I’m not the only one that’s been thinking about this kind of stuff over the past few months! Take care and enjoy the holiday season.

  • MishaBurnett

    I’ve come to a very similar realization recently and have decided that it is time–past time, actually–to give up on my idea of writing for a living. Making money as a writer has very little to do with how well you write, it’s a sales job. I don’t want a sales job. I hate it, and I’m not good at it.

    Now I suddenly find myself with a great deal of time on my hands, and I am trying to figure out what I want to do with it.

  • LarryTheDeuce

    I reached a level of success in my job, only to find myself struggling to figure out why I was there. The past year has been the hardest of my nearly 20 years there. I’m just now almost to the point of having a vision for it again.

  • Thank you Jeff for being vulnerable. Your honesty and reflection is helping me as I make plans for next year. Which ladder will we climb?

  • Debbie (A Million Skies)

    Jeff, this post is so great! I feel like this has been happening to me with my blog this year. Writing became more of an expectation (from my perspective) and less about my heart, which felt like I left “home”. As a result, I just stopped writing, even though writing is deeply ingrained and what God made me to do. Thank you for being authentic and sharing this message.

  • Thank you voicing this, Jeff. I’m nowhere near as far along in this entrepreneurial journey as you are, and have already bumped up against this countless times. The pull of doing things to grow that don’t feel right. And I’m not talking about simply scary. I’m talking about just what you described – not you. Not me. Right now I am working full time while building my business. And one of the reasons I am doing this is so I can express more of who I am. Why would I then turn around and do something just because it seems expected?
    What you and I are choosing isn’t easy. People don’t post about it on social media. But I think it’s a hallmark of an authentic life.
    When you get to the end of your life, you want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant.” You don’t want to end with regret that you weren’t more fully yourself. I believe you will look back on this moment as one that brought you back to yourself.
    Peace this Christmas.

  • Jeff, my journey is slightly different, but still driven by same question, “Who am I?” I too have found Parker’s writing very helpful, but, if anything, it has reconfirmed in my mind the need to live a contemplative life where I’m at peace with who I am and my place in the world. Good luck for 2016 — I’m sure it will be a great one for you and your family. Best wishes Julian.

  • AlbaLnz α

    It is nice to see and read a story of honesty. Being honest is the best you can do to yourself and your readers/family/friends… I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, because it lets me know that you are really trying to be better instead of letting yourself get into the “dark side”. It takes awareness and guts, and I am glad you are able to realize that. We need to contantly keeo checking ourselves.
    One of my epiphany moments came when I admitted my struggles and my problems with depression. It felt good to admit that and be able to grow from there. I hope that wherever you are and whatever you do, you are able to be happy and stay true to yoruself.

  • Powerful post, Jeff. I’ve been taking a lot of time to reflect on this in my own life. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your journey with us. It matters. Have a great Christmas!

    Doug

  • mandythompson

    Jeff: Thank you for your fresh authenticity. I’m interested to see where this shift takes you and your work in the coming year. Blessings as you sort it out!

  • The last two years has been about me rediscovering who I really am. Not who I thought I was, or some version of me I was striving to be. I have been moving towards discovering the real, authentic me. It has been the most challenging and liberating thing I have ever done. It is not easy to dive deep, but it is one of the most rewarding things you can do for a full and authentic life. It looks different for all of us, but I’m excited for you to continue to rediscover who you are and what is most important to you. I truly believe when we are being completely ourselves, it naturally flows out of us and impacts others.

  • Jeff,

    Thank you for this. I love your honesty. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster–succeeding & failing all over the place–and trying not to get lost in the process. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone, in wrestling to not lose myself in the process. TY.

  • Jeff – sweet post. Call it a coincidence or call it fate, but I just pushed out a goal setting post today that I feel applies called 10 Valuable Tips to Crush Your New Year’s Goals. It speaks to your thoughts.
    Like you, a Star Wars fan, I watched Episodes 1 and 2 of Star Wars after watching the new movie. I’m struck by something Obi Wan Kenobi says to teenage Anakin at least twice in the same movie. “Be mindful of your thoughts.”
    That simple phrase has so much power. If we were all truly mindful of our thoughts, our successes would certainly steer us toward helping others and keeping clear of the Dark Side.
    May the force be with you, Jedi Master Jeff.

  • I’m not a native speaker of English and yet I manage to get published in the big publications, like Huffpost, Babble and the Wall Street Journal. I couldn’t have even imagined writing in a language I wasn’t born speaking. But it’s possible!

  • Yes, I’ve failed and it has shown me a lot. I read on another author’s blog that you should never start your career with a book. Sadly, I thought I was different. I was wrong. One cancelled publishing contract later, I’ve come to realize that he was right (It’s Jerry B. Jenkins, by the way).
    Now, thanks to his, your, and so many others’ advice, I’m backing it up, and starting where I should have started before. I’ve finally begun my freelancing career, (got hired for my first job 2 days ago!) and am working on a blog, all while holding that (almost) finished manuscript and waiting for my turn. I know that everything comes in God’s timing. What I’ve learned most of all is that I need to trust that, and stop getting so impatient.
    (By the way, I’ve never seen Star Wars 🙂

  • Paula Radell

    This is so meaningful for me as I look back on the past year and forward to the next. I tried so hard to please others, and worked so hard NOT to fail, that it became a cycle of self-destruction that left me lost. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for offering resources to help your followers have a more joyful 2016.

  • Thanks for your candor Jeff! Glad you’re sitting comfortably with your soul again — which is the reason you got to where you are as well as the way you can reach the most people with your work. Cheers to your 2016!

  • Nirikshan Kumar

    Thank you Jeff for the best piece u wrote this day, i always read your articles but as i was guessing what would be my real take for 2016 you answered me all my questions, Thanks

  • A great post for the new year. Thank you!

  • JW Goble

    Love it, Jeff. Really hit my heart and soul where I was this morning. I think #2 needs to be edited. ” I will live by my values as best I understanding them.”

  • Heather

    Jeff, the thing I appreciate about your writing is that it’s real, it’s authentic and it gets to the point. Thank you. I had taken a year “sabbatical” from reading your posts due to a number of personal factors. Having recently begun to read your writing, I am impressed with the depth and maturity with which you write. I love the theme of identity and vocation. During my lifetime, I’ve tried on many different “hats” trying to fit the mold. But because these jobs/positions weren’t my mold, they usually cracked over time. Becoming who you are designed to be and staying true to yourself – although perhaps the scariest journey in life – is also the richest.

  • Princess April Ann Cruz

    Cool story Jeff it’s a great article which is giving your reader’s some advice and tips about being a writer online and off line.

  • Jeff, thank you for being candid and ardent with us amid the “trappings” of success, and I type that noun today with fresh awareness. I take your words deeply to heart, even as I pray they do their wider work in the world, and in your amazing life. Wishing you and your family rest and quiet joys that distill awe into your days this week.

  • Sarah Simmons

    This is so timely and challenging for me. I’ve had times where I thought, “If only I could get paid to do…” Once I got there, I also experienced that twinge of disappointment and found myself putting on everyone else’s expectations. I found myself in a place of resentment towards others and couldn’t blame anyone but myself. This is a great reminder that, though the undivided life requires vulnerability and courage, it is so worth the price tag.

  • Vicky Cox

    Ha! I just got finished writing my coach that I get stuck doing things by default I don’t want to do because my husband and teens are too busy or whatever and I feel I have to pick up the slack to hold it all together. Certainly is something to examine this next year so I can achieve my goals (which rarely seems to happen).
    But Jeff, I have never known you to be anything but trustworthy, honest, and generous.

  • David Price

    Soul gets drowned out by incessant cultural noise; nothing is more powerful yet more invisible in America than the undefined idea of success. Our mental landscape is invaded and colonized by beliefs and ideas that must be questioned and cleared away to actually know what soul longs for. Looks like you’re on that path of discovery. Thanks for offering us the real you.

  • Teresa Marie

    I realizrd after failing at marriage that i was meant to be single. I rather enjoy the solitude now. It gives me more time to write and concentrate more fully on that.

    • Teresa I am currently dealing with a failed marriage, and being single and as you say meant to be single… How do you get to the acceptance of that… I’m still at the point of rationalizing I am not married and this is “real” if that makes sense.

      • Teresa Marie

        It takes time. It took me years to get to the point where i accepted it but God specifically asked me to remain single also. If you have a word from God it is easier to walk in it. Yes what you say makes total sense. It sounds like you might be still be in the grieving stages and that is ok too. It just takes seeking God and waiting on him for your strength to do what he wants with your life. Not everyone is called to be single. It is a gift from him also.

        • I agree it does take time, I am going between grieving and and bargaining, right now I hate being alone, but when this first was fact that I was giving a divorce I made the choice to get back into a close relationship with God.

          Currently trying to find ways to do things by myself as I get to know who I am in this new stage as a single woman.

          • Teresa Marie

            Bargaining is one of the stages of grieving. You are on the right track. Getting a closer walk with the Lord is also on the right track. I have a morning prayer that may help you on http://www.telepublishingink.com or you can contact me at teresamarie@writeme.com if you want a friend to talk to along the way. I would be glad to be there for you in your time of need.

  • JD Causey

    This article is one of the best I’ve read all year. Jeff you allow yourself to be so transparent, it is truly inspiring. I really admire your spirit and I’ve already made up mind to follow your lead! Thank you for being who you are and for sharing your growth process with us.

  • Samantha Anderson

    I recently received a professional rejection I thought was going to be the door to my becoming a full-time writer. The failure forced me to think about my values and priorities, about what I want and who I want to be and I realized who I want to be has nothing to do with how I make money. If nothing else, my failure was worth it to learn that. I still want to, and will, write, but taking the pressure off of my writing by no longer expecting it to provide for me, I think, will make all the difference.

    • Mysty

      Maybe you should not consider it a ‘failure’? Maybe your work did just not fit in with their agenda at this moment in time?

  • Great article Jeff, thanks for keeping it real. That being said, I must quibble just a bit with something in sentence in #3: “I recognize that my life is not about me, but that my gifts are meant to be given away.” and instead say that life IS about you… AND that your gifts are meant to be given away. 🙂 I’ve found that part of not being divided involves letting go of this idea that it’s about you OR others. It is about both. The undivided life is one where you are important, as is everyone else. That’s my two cents. Thanks for sharing!

  • jenni ho-huan

    Jeff, your transparency and authenticity is such a gift! I met you online while figuring out about my gift and desire to write. you have been a such an encouraging companion with your thoughts and resources. I did feel this year was a tad frenetic! So am really glad you too that retreat and came back refreshed and refocussed! A little book that helped me a lot is A Testament of Devotion. check it out? Have a good, wonder-filled season!

  • Danie Botha

    Thank you for your fearless honesty, Jeff!

  • Monica Lobenstein

    I came to some similar conclusions myself recently. Up until now, my blog has been about reaching your goals and how you do that, as if the goals were some separate thing. My recent a-ha moment was that the goal isn’t really to be something other than what we already are. The goal is to become ourselves, and align our lives with who we already have inside us. I believe this will be the focus I’ve been looking for in my blog (since I participated in the Intentional Blogging Challenge). Thanks for the thoughts and the commitments!

  • Verne

    Well said Jeff, Your time out has done you a service! Your 3 Commitments are written much better than my own way of saying it. I have followed my “Open and Honest” creed for as long as I can remember! My 3 words are perhaps too brief for some, but then I am a bit too much of a “critic” which is the easiest job to do. Perhaps that’s why I am not yet published! I write, I read my work and begin to self-edit, I become dissatisfied with what I have written, and then I type “Control-A”, and “Delete”! What does that say to you? Do I need to take a “time out” like you did?

  • Michael Gabriel Sy

    Good one! I realized that writing is a form of art, not a way to get famous and earn money.

    • True. Of course, there are those who do just that.

  • What a wonderful piece, Jeff. So glad to hear that you’ve arrived at a place of clarity around all of this. Have a great holiday!

  • Barb Parcells

    Loved this, Jeff. It is exactly where I am now after a year of chasing someone who was not me. So glad to feel like I’m not alone in this as, I suspect, many others feel as well. What a great Christmas present! Thanks.

  • Listen to Kacey Musgraves’ “Pageant Material’ – “I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t”. One of my current theme songs. This subject is highlighted throughout her masterful new album. Your post rings through loud and clear and reminds me why I started listening to you in the first place. I needed to be reminded that I can only serve others well if I take care of myself first. Thank you!

  • Dang. Well said sir. I look forward to what’s ahead for you and from you in 2016.

  • Jeff, thank you for this life altering post. I’ve have a taste of failure or not succeeding at what I had planned for last year. I was going to get at least three of my near to done books finished, edited and out there. But life had other plans and changed everything. it was during last year I learned who my friends really were and started from scratch to rebuild from the ground up. So for 2016, my goals have changed but I don’t know where to even start yet. My ex and I are friends thankfully, but because hes battling an illness he cant do much but support me. I want to publish a book for him and do it so he can enjoy it,,, but feel guilty because its not going as fast as I want it too.

    I’m still looking at what is best for me and what I want, I want to write, that’s who I am and what I do, but my dilemma now is what do I want to write, fiction or non, which story out of the dozens do I want to do, and the list goes on.

    Last year I made my goal list but life changed that, and different lessons were learned like patience and persistence…. What is this next year going to hold is still . a mystery.

  • Megan Richardson

    Yes! I was thankfully very successful in my job as a senior marketing manager for a regional shopping center. I was well respected and honored for a job well done. However, I was never satisfied. I always felt there was something more for me to do. I have since left my job to pursue writing a book and become a inspirational speaker. That’s my calling. Through all of this I’ve learned that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because I could do my old job doesn’t mean I should do it still or ever again, ultimately. I’ve also learned that I have zero desire to climb the corporate ladder and have success the way the world sees it. I now only want to pursue what God wants me to pursue. I want to serve. It’s no longer about me, and all about Him. All that said, I don’t regret one ounce of my experiences – both successes and failures – because it truly makes me who I am today!

  • Atulya K Bingham

    I’m betting the real you is even more successful 🙂 People love honesty.

    • Thanks. We will see. I’m fine either way. 🙂

  • Lauren Domagas

    I understand where you are coming from. This past year for me has been a test on my own identity and what success means to me. I had been pulled in so many directions by so many different people that I began to feel that perhaps my goal of becoming published wasn’t a valid dream. I began placing my own sense of worth on other’s standards rather than what makes me feel fulfilled.

    It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I finally put my foot down and started taking writing seriously. Though people were initially doubtful, I feel that they respect me more for standing by own definition of success.

    I’d love if you could check out my blog! Thank you for your incredible insight and being an inspiration to writers like myself.

    https://www.laurendomagas.com/

  • Cheryl

    Thanks so much for sharing this Jeff. I have not reached that point at all yet. But It’s the kind of stuff that has crossed my mind. And I have often thought about preparing myself to be able to handle success. This was a great inside peek at what it’s like to manage success while remebering to come back to who you are.

  • Good for you, Jeff, for recognizing that you had drifted from being true to yourself and for then getting back on track. A good lesson for us all to keep in mind.

  • I have some weird feelings at the moment as well. I know I have come a long way from where I started but something feels off. I have no degrees or qualifications. Most of the skills that I’ve learned, I’ve learned on the job. I am lucky that I am eager to learn new things, I tend to pick up new things quite quickly and I am determined and ambitious all the time. I read, I study on my own time. I work twice or three times as hard just so that I can catch up and do what the job required me to do. I started off as freelance writer working for content mills and now I’m content manager for online company. It’s a level of success for the 5-6 years of pushing myself through different companies and different responsibilities but … something feels amiss and I’m not sure what it is but I feel like I’m getting close to finding that out.

    Sorry for the rant 😛

  • Christophe Barrucq

    Awesome, thank you Jeff

  • Kellie

    Love this post for so many reasons, yet I do have a question. What would you go back and undo, things said, things promised, etc. now that you know? Would love to know your thoughts on that.

    • I’m not sure I would go back and undo anything. I just don’t want to keep heading in the direction I’ve been gradually on, which is to say more business and marketing, less writing and creating. I want more margin to make things without worrying too much about “monetizing.”

  • Henry Neff

    Just what I needed to read and apply. Thanks Jeff.

    • You’re welcome, Henry! Thanks for reading.

  • Richard Williams

    Jeff, your testimony is inspiring. Thank you for sharing. When my job was eliminated a few years ago , Parker was one of the first authors I read as a part of my quest. I will be on the lookout for the book that you mentioned. Thanks again.

  • Michelle

    I have been looking for a way to be as successful online as an artist, as I was during my 30+ year career as a graphic designer. The emphases in the online world on one’s dream lifestyle, a 7-figure income (unless, of course, you have “money mindset” issues) and “how” to get the lifestyle and the $$ by focusing on monetizing, list building, free content creation and teaching, is so different than the “what” I focused on offering before: skills and quality my clients didn’t have in-house along with an unfailing reliability and professionalism. My success was never about the quantity or the numbers or a list, and I have a really hard time making that my focus while trying to determine my new role in alignment with my soul. I’m hoping the book you recommend addresses that in some way…

  • Can so completely relate to this, these past few post-recovery months my identity has been shattered. Grief stricken, I forgot my “why” as I relentlessly attempted to piece my identity back together. I am no longer the woman I once was. I don’t know what happened to her, or if she was even real. Maybe I wore that identity to cover up the pain. Anyway, I’m done with resolutions, from here on in, transformation is happening on a micro-level, moment to moment. Like Jeff, I’m focussing on committing to the process.

  • Fiona Tarr

    Thanks for your honesty Jeff. When I started following your blog, it & you were different. Real, honest, focussed on others. I honestly hope to see more of the real you in the future. Your revelation also resonated with me personally as I study the myriad of ways to expand my writing career. There are many out there willing to take advantage of the hopeful and I don’t want to be one of them.

  • donnafreedman

    “In other words, I will be who I am even if that means it makes me less
    famous or not as rich. I would rather be myself and fail than play the
    role of someone else and get praise for being untrue to myself.”

    Thank you.

    I’ve been feeling conflicted lately about how much work I’ve “given away,” i.e., five years and counting on my personal blog. Should I have spent all that time on posting vs. doubling down on my efforts to find additional paid work?

    I get very good feedback, though, and a fair amount of it is “you helped me through (whatever)” or “you helped me change my life.” Hard to argue with that.

    Would I like to earn more money? Yes, especially since my daughter has a disability and although she has a job she can do from home I’m concerned for her financial future.

    Will the world end if I don’t earn more money? Nope.

    If I keep being true to myself, as you say, then one of two things will happen: I’ll find a way to earn more or I won’t. But no matter what, I’ll keep writing to teach, to inspire or to entertain. (I’ve learned not to discount that last. Some days we need a diversion and/or a guffaw to get us through the rough spots.)

  • Dave Gipson

    Jeff, if you’ve discovered this at your age, you should be very pleased. I don’t mean that as condescendingly as it sounds. I say it because God had to teach me the same thing…over and over…until I finally got it around 50. It was a tough trip.

    I achieved “ministry success” (as ironic a term as could be imagined) at around 41, only to discover the big time church I had left a happy church for wasn’t only a bunch of smoke and mirrors. But instead of learning what really matters in ministry…and in life…I kept thinking it must just be the wrong church. I couldn’t see that professional advancement, financial freedom, and the respect of peers had very little to do with what God wanted from me as a minister or as a man.

    Now, I’m living simpler. I have a small little church I started myself, attended by artsy types who’ve mostly come to Christ from our mutual friendship. The rest of the church is made up of Christians who tolerate my wacky sermon illustrations and quixotic tendencies. I’m making the least money I’ve had in 20 years, but happy as a clam.

    When my first batch of kids made it out of high school, we decided to start over by adopting and fostering. My days are spent now writing, counseling, and removing various bodily fluids from the floors of my home. We’re just praying the guy from Dateline never shows up with one of those ultraviolet light thingies…

    So be very encouraged at finding this in what I’m guessing is your 30s. Try to learn it the first time really well, and don’t be harder-headed like me. I’ve found the best life possible, but first I had to get over success. Hopefully, you can have it and the success as well!

    God bless and keep building blanket forts,
    Dave
    (aka “Rev. Hair”)

  • Mary Jo Campbell

    Jeff, once again, thank you for your honesty and transparency. I am also struggling to find myself (again.) I’ve been working diligently, albeit in circles, on my online biz of supporting creatives to teach young writers the basics of story telling and finding their voice and confidence. But I feel like a phony. I don’t feel confident and I really have lost my own voice, or at least, have abandoned her…
    The learning curve in starting an online biz is steep and riddled with rough terrain and constant storms of doubt and frustration. I’ve been wondering if it’s worth it. What is my WHY? And does that still fit with the core of me?
    I don’t know. I’m afraid to admit out loud that I think the whole online biz endeavor is really a HUGE distraction from my real core: author, teacher. Those close to me help me to see my self-sabotage…as I get close to successes in writing and publishing, I’ll sabotage my efforts by taking a different path. Not just a different path, like a completely involved “need to read, research, plan, develop, test and test again” pursuit that drains my creativity and my spirit.
    Huh. I think I have finally decided: I.Am.A.Writer. And writing is where I will focus.
    Thank you!

  • I do not think success to be the destination either. Success is something you feel and also an indication when it may be time to move on and seek out other experiences and growth opportunities. I do not see success as a pursuit of prosperity or wealth. Success is a moment, a snapshot. When you feel it, you will know it, but shouldn’t be that moment when we feel there is no more work left.