Redefining Success

Image: Spiral Staircase

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing a serious lack of motivation.

There was a lot that contributed to it…health stuff (which showed up as fatigue, depression and anxiety), family stuff and financial stuff.

I was trying to gear up to open registration for the next group of projectizers in Project Prowess (my program to help you choose, start and finish projects), but the work just wasn’t getting done. It felt as if I was trying to swim through molasses.

I started and deleted upwards of ten posts. Even if I was lucky enough to experience that initial burst of inspiration about an idea, somewhere between brain and fingers-on-keyboard it would all go horribly wrong.

I did my best to be kind to my body, because I know that pushing doesn’t always work. And having a hidden agenda behind the self-care often cancels out the benefit.

I’d do okay for a day, sometime three, but then I’d start freaking out about how long it had been since I’d done any real work. (And getting to the bottom of what constitutes “real work” is a whole ‘nother blog post.)

After a couple of weeks? I was convinced my motivation was gone forever.

On some level, it felt as though this not-working was becoming a pattern. Or maybe a habit.

But what to do about it?

If I looked at my to-do list and started thinking about all the work I hadn’t been doing and could have been doing over the last couple of weeks, it was an instant panic-fest. So that’s definitely what not to do.

I had to cut myself a lot of slack. But this was a different kind of slack – not the “poor thing, why don’t you go lie on the fainting couch for a while” kind.

I had to let go of any attachment to how much output I would have. Over and over again. Yet I needed to push myself (gently) to start working more.

If I only got as far as opening the admin panel of my site (which is where I write my posts) before I got distracted by Twitter or Facebook, that was okay.

And if I only wrote a sentence or two before I hit refresh on my inbox. Or *cough* played a game of solitaire, that was okay, too.

Every time I lost focus, I had a choice to make:

Would I collapse into the distraction, subsequent frustration and sense of having failed, or would I bring myself back to my work and try to take one more step?

I couldn’t expect to just crank out hundreds of words (or to plow through my task list) all at once, because it had been weeks since I’d done that.

Success is what YOU say it is

I get to decide what counts at success.

So do you.

We all hear tons of messages, day in and day out, about how our productivity should look. And often the message is that we should be kicking ass and taking names. Or just doing it or getting over it.

But in the end, it’s up to us.

The Rub

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you know I’m not a fan of pushing yourself to the point where it essentially becomes a violent act. Our bodies and souls need nourishment, and often lack of motivation and fatigue are messages that we need to replenish.

But there’s this other element of commitment that’s absolutely necessary in the creation process.

Sometimes commitment means not working, even when it feels like you’ll fall behind.
But sometimes it looks an awful lot like “forcing” yourself to work.

And therein lies the rub.

Only you can know whether you need to flex your commitment muscles by working when you don’t feel like it or by resting when you have lots to do.

That’s the dance we have to do as entrepreneurs…what works for us today may not be what we need tomorrow or next week.

There’s no formula to follow other than know thyself.

And that, as with so many other things, is a process.

How about you?

How do you define success? And is your definition truly yours, or did it come from someone else?

I designed Project Prowess to teach you the foundational skills that will allow you to get shit done while customizing the creation process for YOU.

I know first-hand that cookie cutter-solutions almost never work. We’re all unique, so what are the chances that someone else’s formula will work for you?

Project Prowess will teach you how to get more projects done in ways that fit who you are and how you work. The program starts March 8, so I hope you’ll check it out!

Image credit: edvvc

4 thoughts on “Redefining Success

  1. Pauline Esson

    Oh my. I know that rub.
    I’ve spent many hours in the not knowing whether to push on.
    And so hard to tell whether pushing on will just lead to creating dead stuff that does nothing for anyone AND doesn’t get you the rest that was needed.
    I did have a lovely moment yesterday of brain going no where, had a nap, set the alarm for 20 minutes and woke up really refreshed and with a vision of me leading a workshop to a LOT of people….expanded my thinking (also scared me half to death but that’s another matter entirely)

    1. Victoria Post author

      Oh yes…the not knowing can make it really hard. I always start by asking myself what the pattern is, and then give the opposite a try. So, my pattern tends to be avoiding the work, so I decided to try pushing a little bit harder, with no expectation on volume of output. But, if your pattern is to push push push, it might be that resting is exactly what you need.

      Sometimes I get it wrong, thinking I should push and then wind up more frustrated, but it’s all an experiment.

      How nice that you got a nap (followed by an exciting vision!) – seems like no matter how tired I am, I can’t sleep during the day!

  2. Andrew Lightheart


    I find it hard at times, too, this getting going/keeping going thing. Especially for solo biz people. Maybe it’s because everything rides on us – not just a project, but, like, the *whole thing*.

    Plus I know people who carry on *no matter what they’re feeling*. This is a mystery to me, and also I find myself comparing myself to them when I haven’t done ‘enough’.

    Whatever *that* is.

    I particularly like how you emphasise the choosing and re-choosing that needs to happen sometimes every 9 seconds.

    It’s hard, man. Great and fulfilling and SO better than cubicle-land and and and…

    Love reading your words again. Sorry I’ve been absent. :)

    1. Victoria Post author

      Thank you, Andrew! So happy to see you here.

      I think you’re right…the pressure of the *whole thing* riding on us and us alone can add to the pressure of it all. And there’s such a fine line between the good pressure that helps us be productive and the bad pressure that makes us (well, ok, *me*) want to hide under the covers.

      And I totally do that same thing of comparing myself to the people who work no matter what they’re feeling. I know I could never do that (more and more I realize I’m ruled by how I feel – for better or for worse), yet I envy their (apparent) productivity.

      So, yes. Hard and great and fulfilling and crazy-making and I’d take this any day over cubicle land.

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