And THEN what happens?

My publisher is not one of the big New York houses, but rather, is the largest publishing house in the country owned by a woman. This has allowed Sourcebooks, Inc., flexibility and boldness larger organizations might find beyond their grasp. One of the benefits to me has been that instead of having to wait for more than a year to see royalties for many of my books, I’m paid within thirty days of when my publisher is paid.

sourcebooksThat’s a sweet deal for the publishing biz, and it lets me see in relatively short order–six months is a lot shorter order than 18 months–how my books are doing. This also means I have a royalty check coming in each month, and that feels good. As I get to the end of my backlog of manuscripts, that will slow down, but for the next year or so, I should be in a nice pattern.

Which leaves me with a question: Am I successful yet?

Which begs another question: How do I define success?

scrooge mcDuckPaying the bills and supporting my daughter is part of that definition, but my dear readers are seeing to it that for the near term, at least, that box is checked. So what does that leave? Saving up for retirement, because I don’t want to be a burden on anybody. Writing more good books, because I love to write, but assuming I can do that…

I also want to lose 50 pounds and otherwise get my health on a better footing. Writing  books can help me with this (thanks for the treadmill desk, friends!), but mostly this takes time and determination, which I have.

treadmill deskAnd I want to take care of the friendships I have, within my family and otherwise, because when all else fails, those relationships are all we have left, and all we have left to give. Of the three criterion–writing, health, and relationships–relationships are the big one, the one that deserves the most attention and probably gets the least, from me.

So… what’s your definition of success? Does that definition work for only you, or do you measure others by it, too?

To one commenter, I’ll give a Kindle paperwhite or NOOK, your choice.

 

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95 comments on “And THEN what happens?

  1. 1
    Gigi says:

    Success is a hard one for me. I want to say success is feeling good at accomplishing something. But so often I find people are able to take away those bright moments by throwing a complaint or a new challenge at me. I think you hit a lot of the facets of success on the head: health, security, happiness. Even a sense of community and support. There’s values to others in what you created. I especially love and marvel at that knowledge. Success is freedom, too. The security to make the choices you want, like writing all day over a job doing something else. You were successful in making your own choices. Where I stand right now, I really admire that. Good luck in all your new endeavors! Let us know how you like your treadmill desk!

    • 1.1

      Free time is wealth, or rather, the authority to do with your time what you directly choose. Days when I must be in court, I must wear proper attire, I must wait to speak until it is my turn, I must stand to address the judge… they take something out of me.

  2. 2
    Kylan Alexander says:

    I think success is defined by your happiness, and that of your family (spouse, kids), and by stability and financial needs met. In the case of a writer, I would add name recognition, reviews and reader support (good and bad because it means they thought enough to read it), and always a new story ready to write. :)

    • 2.1

      That always a new story is vital, Kylan. I get really twitchy when nothing is queuing up in my imagination, and when I get a tickle, I treasure it like the last spark of the last fire in the coldest camp. Jack London knew something about that…

  3. 3
    Kathie Spitz says:

    I agree with you, taking care of the family, food on the table, roof over all our heads, loved ones near is a huge measure of success. Friends who will help you bury the bodies (or allow crying on their shoulders)is also a bonus. I really don’t measure others by my standards, as they have their own measuring sticks.

    • 3.1

      Kathie, I find I do measure others somewhat. The people I admire most are not the ones with the collection of big houses, but those who can take the time encourage a new writer, to share what house they have. The collection of big houses can be a fine thing–many people are employed in the building of those houses–but I can’t regard it as a entirely successful. Must think on this…

  4. 4
    Sheryl N says:

    I feel that I am successful. I have a great family, job and friends. I feel that I have accomplished everything that I set out for when I was a young lady. Now I have many things to be grateful for and I feel that my biggest success is my son. He has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

    • 4.1

      Good for you, Sheryl, that you can look at what your life has become, and pronounce it good. And my daughter is the best thing to happen to me, though I can’t take credit for how she’s turning out. She’s her own lady, and her successes are entirely her own doing.

  5. 5
    Barbara Elness says:

    My definition of success is not just monetary, happiness has to come into it somewhere. I have seen people who make much more money than me, they might be called successful, but they have made bad investments and are in worse financial shape than I am, with my more modest income. I’m happy with the job I have and am heading in the right direction for my retirement, so I feel I’m successful – at least enough for me, and that’s what counts, not what others think.

    • 5.1

      When the economy went to heck, I had no investments to tank along with it, and that was a good thing. My house value plummeted, but I need the house to live in, not to be an investment. And yet, I am not in such good shape for as many years as I’ve worked, and that’s something I need to get after (by writing more books!)

  6. 6
    DARETHAZ says:

    Success to me means that I can lead their that I want and I can support my mom. But, success is not come So easily to me. Hanging by a thread with lottas of part time jobs seems hard to make ends meet. However, I find one important thing that success is being happy with what you have no matter how simple is it. Life is never meant to be easy but we have to greet every hardships as a friend. Only if we could do that we can understand the true meaning of happiness and success will soon follow.

    • 6.1

      I do not greet hardship as a friend, but hardship has certainly sorted out for me who my friends are… and are NOT. That’s valuable information, if painfully learned.
      I do agree with you that focusing on your own situation, on what’s constructive and positive and worth being grateful for, is much more productive than comparing and bemoaning. Reading good books helps too!

  7. 7
    Bonnie says:

    I think success needs to be defined by us for ourselves. Everyone is going to be different. For some it will mean the material things, for others the spiritual things. I guess when the time comes to look back on your life, the regrets you have (or if you’re lucky, don’t have) will let you know whether you’ve been successful.

    (Pls don’t enter me in this week’s giveaway.)

    • 7.1

      Bonnie I’ve come across the same Facebook post most of us have, about the hospice nurse who made a study of those regrets we have at the end. Seems nobody regrets dying with too small a fortune. We regret working too hard, not maintaining friendships, not playing enough, not following our dreams.
      So, let’s be about those things, shall we?

  8. 8
    Mary says:

    Success I believe is very much an individual item for each person. For me, it is self-acceptance, as I have spent a lot of my life in an overly self-critical, anxious state. It has been difficult to overcome the perfectionist tendency and fear of failure to really let go and just be myself, try things and run the risk that I will look stupid or people won’t like me. Success to me is when I really just let that intuitive self out to run, don’t watch my language and don’t give a damn about the consequences. The uninhibited, fearless Mary doesn’t come out too often. The more I let the inner me out, the more successful I am.

    • 8.1

      Oh, excellent point. I can’t look in the mirror and see a perfect body that has served me without a single major failing for 54 years. I see chins and a spare tire… as if THAT matters? Thanks for the reminder, Mary!

  9. 9
    Elizabeth W says:

    I agree with you about relationships. You can earn millions of dollars and have everyone know your name, but if you don’t have people to love and who love you in return, how is that “success”?

    I am a stay at home mom to my two amazing kids, so my measure of personal success isn’t based on money. My measure of success is, is everyone happy, healthy, and kind. If I can raise happy, healthy, kind children who have the courage to do what makes them happy, then I am successful. And they will be too. Of course money and stability are important, but I think having a solid base in those other things help to provide the rest.

    • 9.1

      Elizabeth, I think the love matters more. In foster care, we give children every material necessity, plus counseling, tutoring, medication, etc, etc. All the care in the world doesn’t substitute for love. And yet, many people whose families endure tough, tough conditions grow up to be happy, healthy, contributing individuals. To me, love wins over money in the bank–that’s the data, that’s my own experience.

  10. 10
    Linda Mitchell says:

    ..Success to me is being happy, good health, and having what you need in life, not necessarily what you want. I am very glad you have such great success in your writing, because it contributes greatly to my success at being happy..the happiest when I am reading your great books. love everything you have and are writing…continued success to you. Linda mitchell…

    • 10.1

      Linda, thanks. For decades, I was the reader, craving just an hour at the end of the day when I can pursue a fictional Happily Ever After. That I can write them now is a Wish Come True.

  11. 11
    Sharon F says:

    Having good health and the love of my family is primary for me! My belief in God and living my life in a way that, hopefully, people will remember in a good way after I am gone, will mean that I was successful while I was here on Earth.

    • 11.1

      Sharon, I agree that how you manage with family is dispositive. I can be the best lawyer in the world for a zillion foster kids, but when’s the last time I called my Mom? My daughter? THAT matters.

  12. 12
    Alison says:

    I define success as the following:

    If I can help as many people in a given day as possible and hurt as few people in a given day as possible, I am successful.

    Oh, and Grace? We’re like almost neighbors (I live in Rocky Ridge) So, want a workout partner? I’ve started on my journey to lose 100 lbs in September.

    • 12.1

      We should at least meet for the occasional walk!
      And I like your description of success, provided that you, yourself, count among the tally of those deserving help rather than harm.

  13. 13

    My definition of success lies in the personal not professional. My parents worked most of their lives. My mom never stayed at home. Very odd fifty years ago, but very necessary with six kids. They devoted their time, money,and energy to us. Both have been gone for many years, but their children still see each other and get along. We, among are friends and extended family, are the exception not the rule. Job well done, Mom and Dad.

    • 13.1

      Mary Jo, I am also well blessed in that my sibling relations are uniformly cordial and warm. As long as one of us has a home, none of us will be homeless, and that’s… until I come up against people whose families are in severe disarray, I tend to take for granted that aspect of my many blessings.

  14. 14
    Martha Eddy says:

    Success is different things to different people. While enjoying my close birth family the one thing that matters the most is that I make/have made a difference to people in this world by my actions. There is no greater legacy than to be remembered when we’re no longer alive.

    • 14.1

      If I had to choose between being remembered, or having a lasting positive impact, but my name dropping into obscurity, I’d take the obscurity happily. There’s a saying among conflict resolution profressionals, “You can either get credit for making peace, or you can make peace.” There’s something to that.

  15. 15
    trudy says:

    I give myself a success credit for surviving my world exploding in my face as gracefully as possible and coming out the other side the better for it. I give myself success credit for raising two fine children who are persons of integrity, decent and moral, independent and self sufficient and good citizens. I give myself success credit for doing a good job in my volunteer capacity and in sharing my leadership skills without crushing people’s spirit, and I give myself success for giving good service in my past careers. I’m not perfect but I think I am kind, caring, respectful, provide good work, and fun to be with – and at the end of the day, that’s sort of how I rate being successful.

  16. 16
    Mandy Miller says:

    I am walking when they said I wouldn’t. I have both legs when the doctors said I’d lose the right one… TWICE. I am happily married when they said he was not for me… And everyone LOVES him. And I have two beautiful happy and healthy girls when we didn’t know if I could have them. I am successful on my terms.

  17. 17
    Georgie says:

    Another thought provoking question – Again thank you for your books.

    Well I had one of those Touchie- Feelie classes mandatory one time from the company that I worked for. Can’t tell you how much I hated those!… Anyway two things came out of that one that has stayed with me all this time.. The question – What is the most important thing to you? In my minds eye, a picture emerged:

    A bubbling stream in a lightly forested meadow, sunlight filtering! Now see two evergreen trees near the bank-close together but fully grown. slightly above them on a slope two smaller trees, growing strong who will be bigger and stronger than the front ones. “That is my success picture, my two children” nurtured and growing much more confident and better than me…. My other comment – My song favorite for many years —- “Let me see my children grow to see what they become” Moe Bandy…. I have succeeded in both these most important life goals and anything else is gravy.

    • 17.1

      I guess that’s part of what I’m trying to define, Georgie: At what point can I say, “Well done, good and faithful, Grace. The rest is gravy.” Must think on this… because what if that’s where I am already?

      • 17.1.1
        Georgie says:

        If you think you have reached that success, that is what I define as freedom. There are always new goals to get your blood flowing. Now I do fun things. The grandkid is a very big number 1. Volunteering and doing as much for others as I can. Do everything as well as possible. Be the one that when she wakes up the devil says “Oh NO”…Live FULL ON! Slide to the finish line all used up and ready for the next adventure. Keep smiling!

  18. 18
    Betty Hamilton says:

    As a young single mother, I measured my personal success in small baby steps. I grew up rather sheltered, in a large family with a strong (dominant) father. A year out of high school, I married my high school sweetheart, also very dominant. Then after the birth of 2 children, I found myself alone with those two children. I was lucky enough to have a job which quickly became a career and my successes began. I was happy the first month on my own to have met the bills and actually had about $20 left over! Each time I “grew” into my responsibilities, I looked at them as successes. I took my first college course… another success. I eventually graduated with a BS in Bus Admin (several 2-yr degrees) at the age of 50! I had never even considered myself college material, so to achieve in that area was, to me, a BIG success.

    • 18.1

      Betty, the academic degrees are a huge deal. They indicate perseverance, if nothing else, a certain tenacity, and ability to juggle. They’re also a big risk, because for all that time, money and effort, you may not find yourself any more employable than you were. Glad you reached those goalposts, though, and glad you’re able to enjoy the accomplishment.

  19. 19
    Peggy Wright says:

    I suppose I’m going to use Aunt Avo, Ava Alice Gentry for my portrait of success. She was raised in the Blue Ridge Mts. during the time it was hard for everyone. Aunt Avo could raise a family on a garden plot, clothe a family by sewing and crocheting. Warm a family by her quilts and smile. She was a large woman, tall and strong. Exactly what a man needed for a mountain wife and partner. Recipes, she didn’t need any, pies as well as canning was done by memory from scratch. Aunt Avo owned that home, she took care of it from the dusting to the sweeping and working the garden plot. Thirty years ago I had the pleasure of knowing her for 4 years on that mountain top. I was pregnant with my son then, my last surprise child. She knew I had an urge for Saukraut and sent me up a gallon size jar of kraut homemade. Perfect for that pregnant time. Later years she would put on those shiney black leather shoes and maybe add a wig with her pretty pink dress as she went out to eat with friends on the weekend. A splurge, but she usually lit the fire on her avocado cook stove and made those meals from scratch. Biscuits, Cornbread, Pies no effort just daily goodness. Put a regular woman in that same situation today and it certainly would show who could handle some success. LOL. My Uncle Joe was a lucky man when he found Aunt Avo. I have happy memories of seeing her success on the mountain side, that big white house was neat as a pin, that garden plot always fertile, the green grass trimmed and the chairs on the porch filled with family and friends as they visited a successful Mountain woman. I wasn’t really raised in the mountains, too much modern living for me but I enjoyed the time I spent near Aunt Avo, learning to use her success as a determining factor in my own life. Make your life, Your own. That’s my motto.

    • 19.1

      Excellent motto, excellent portrait of a remarkable woman. My godmother was much the same. We ate from the garden, the orchard, the farm, heated with wood, and often made hard work into fun. There was a sense of family cohesion about that lifestyle that I don’t know how a family not on the land could capture.

  20. 20
    Mary Doherty says:

    I think it is different for everyone and it changes as time goes by. When our kids were younger, my husband and I had good jobs. But we were different than a lot of people, because we felt it was way more important for us to be with our kids as much as possible. So we didn’t spend a lot of time tring to move up the ladder in our jobs. We also didn’t feel the need to advance our education, because we would have had to work too and we weren’t willing to take that time from our children. I am not saying it’s wrong for anyone else to do those things, but it was what we chose to do. They are adults now and have children of their own, but family is still first for us and I guess it always will be. So I feel that is my success, for other it might not be and that’s fine with me. I have never had the need to have more or better than someone else.

    • 20.1

      Mary, one of my brothers has arranged things for years with his wife such that between them, they pretty much have the kids 24-7, though it means Mom and Dad spend less time together. So far, this seems to be producing the most amazing children… What a novel concept, that we should raise the children we bring into the world. Wish I’d done better in this regard.

  21. 21
    Diane B says:

    Success, IMO, is setting a goal and doing the work to see it come to fruition. And that applies to every facet of my life: job, family, relationships. Sometimes I succeed; sometimes not. Sigh…

  22. 22
    Janiec says:

    Sometimes I see success in terms of money and other times I see happiness and contentment as success.

  23. 23
    Sabrina Taylor says:

    I think each person has their own definition of what success is for them. To me success is being happy with your life and yourself. It means having a home, food and love for my kids. Raising my kids with morals and to be good people. I am still working on loving myself, inside and out, but don’t we all!!! If my children are happy with themselves and feel loved and great people who are productive in society then I think I have been a success.

  24. 24
    Anne Hoile says:

    Success defined in my mind is inner contentment, keeping stress below the surface. Sometimes I am successful at that and sometimes I am not. At the stage of my life (almost 70) I am mostly satisfied with my life. I do what I want which is read, read, read! I am in awe of your ability to work (lawyering) and writing stories and raising a child. I continue to hope you are able to continue to do so. Just love your stories.

    • 24.1

      Anne, my brother-in-law taught art history at the University of Georgia for decades. In his retirement, he too is read, read, reading… everything from Trollope to Faulkner and everything in between. And I don’t know when he’s been happier…

      So enjoy those books. I love to write them, you love to read them. An excellent system!

  25. 25
    Gail Nichols says:

    My idea of success is if you love what you do and it can pay your bills and keep food on the table, that way you can be happy at work and at home. True happiness is what I call success.

  26. 26
    Mary Rude says:

    Success is being able to do what you love. Getting paid for it is icing on the cake. What next … If you still love to write – then write! I love your books! But if life takes you in another direction, your success in one arena will give you the opportunity to be successful elsewhere. Growth is good and change is inevitable.

  27. 27
    Pam says:

    I guess I tend to think success is when you are doing something with your life that makes you truely happy and you can feel good about yourself. But I can’t say that I’ve ever felt that way though, so I don’t really know what the right answer is.

    • 27.1

      Pam, somebody once told me to think long and hard about the last time I was HAPPY, then to move in that direction. At the time, that meant getting back onto a horse after a twenty year hiatus, and it was good advice.

      When was the last time you were gloriously happy?

  28. 28
    Carrie says:

    Success is a difficult one for me. Long term health problems have put the brakes on my goals/hopes/dreams. In terms of “other people (society and wider family)” I’m a failure. I haven’t achieved anything nor I’m I really likely ever to and I suppose I should agree with them but long term health problems also give you a lot of time to mull things over. Success should never be an “outside” thing. It is how you feel when you achieve the goals you have set for yourself even if it is not recognised by others. It’s the satisfaction you get when you’ve conquered your Everest, tamed your demon or indeed completed a manuscript even if no one were to read it… I hate comparing or being compared to others. They are not in my shoes and I’m not in theirs. (Maybe that’s an introvert’s thing and an extrovert would need to be acknowledged??)
    I am a horribly optimistic person ( the kind you really want to slap from time to time ;) ) I do realise that success means different things to different people at different times in their life ( a new mother might cheer the success of getting her child to finally sleep the same way she felt winning a contract at work!). By the outside world’s standard I achieve nothing in my day therefore I’m a failure. And that’s okay. Society can live with standards and pressure that I’m not subjected to and I think am happier for it. My life means success is getting up, washed and dressed. Success is being able to do maybe one extra thing today that I didn’t have the energy for yesterday. Long term success would be to stay cheerful when everyone else around me is telling me that I should be down in the dumps because of my life -and lack of “worldly”success ( Think of me at Christmas time – my own personal little Eeyore is staying with me aiming to steal my joy! Interestingly *cough, cough…bitchy comment coming up…* wealth is very high on her list of important things- her children less so…). I feel as long as you are doing everything you can to reach the potential you have then you are successful. But success is also doing something that gives you pleasure even if it is not recognised but other people or financially.
    My health problems do have a bonus though. The bond I have with my niece and nephews is very strong and I know it wouldn’t have been as deep had I been well therefore busy with my own life! I am involved (maybe not physically but emotionally) in every aspect of their being and that makes my life all the happier. That’s a success I richly blessed with. I never thought this would be my life yet I am happy with nothing to show for it :)

    • 28.1
      Carrie says:

      Sorry. Shouldn’t of ramble for quite so long… :/

      • 28.1.1

        I ramble on here as long as I like–I hope everybody else feels free to do likewise.

        It occurs to me that you’ve faced early in life what we all end up facing if we’re lucky: How do you find meaning and joy when your powers are diminishing? At the end of life, most of us aren’t much to reckon with physically, we’re forgetful, and frail, and yet, we have a lot of wisdom and kindness to share with those patient enough to take time for us.

        I like your observation that success is an inside reading, not outside, because once you find your sense of inner success, what the rest of the world thinks on the subject no longer matters.

  29. 29
    kimmyl says:

    I feel that it is very important to understand that personal success and leading a balanced life is quite essential to have a happy life. Success is more than having the biggest house and the most expensive car. It’s being happy in spite of any hardships and loss.

    • 29.1

      You mention the word balance, and this is probably an area where I need to work harder. I should take better care of my physical self and better care of my immediate environment, too.

  30. 30
    Lynn Bruce says:

    When I was young I thought of success in terms of work achievements. Today I would define success as the ability to love and to accept love in return.. I am not talking about romantic love or even that of friendship even though these are very important. I am talking about the love that leads one to give of herself in terms of using ones talents, resources and time to make life easier for other people. If I have done that to the best of my ability then at the end of my life I will think that I have been successful.

    • 30.1

      Lynn, I’m glad you brought this up, because you’re touching my ideas about Why We’re Here–to learn how to love and be loved (both), which is enough challenge to last any lifetime. I agree that part of that challenge is to accept love where it finds you, whether it’s the love of a dog, a grandkid, or dashing swain. The dashing swain is easy to spot, but that dog…

      And yet, the canine’s love might be the one you really, really need.

  31. 31
    Dot Salvagin says:

    Success is knowing that every moment of every day you are blessed. You are blessed to have a roof over your head, blessed to have food on your table, blessed to have your health. If along with those you have people to love and love you back then you are doubly successful and doubly blessed.

    • 31.1

      I think the 12-step programs emphasize “the attitude of gratitude” in part because you’re right: We all have goodness in our lives, though it might be obscure and quiet. Noticing that and rejoicing in it is a big first step in feeling successful.

  32. 32
    Trudy Miner says:

    Each person defines success differently. For some it’s material success; for others, it’s professional success. In a few cases, people find inner success in reaching a goal without the other trappings. I long ago gave up on material success but am grateful that I have been able to hold onto my condo through all my hardships. As for professional success, teaching is measured by students’ achievements and how they respond to you; I’ve started tutoring ESL/ESOL again at my local library and find that very rewarding. My family is estranged from me so I must find support from my friends and I’m fortunate to have a few good ones. Success is how you look at it.

    • 32.1

      Trudy, I sometimes think many of us were born into the wrong family, but our true families are out there if we look for them. There’s family of origin, and then there’s family of choice. I like to think I have and belong to both.

  33. 33
    Tonya Lee says:

    I dont think success is measured by weath I think as long as you take care of yourself and your loved ones and live a good life you are a success!
    That is my opinion,I don’t hold anyone to it.
    They have to do want they think is right.

  34. 34
    Anastasia says:

    Success, for me, would mean enjoying the work day, having time to live a full personal life, financial stability, and not seeing retirement as an end to achievement. I think, perhaps, this can be true for others; but I don’t see myself creating a family and being surrounded with many friends and relatives as a comforting idea, and becoming a wee bit of a hermit sounds delightful.

    • 34.1

      Anastasia, I LOVE this time of year, because between the long weekends, and holidays, and the weather, this is when I have the most solitude. I get the most writing done, and I’m happiest. Maybe I should move North?

  35. 35
    Janie McGaugh says:

    My definition of success is having positive relationships in my life and being able to take care of myself, both financially and physically.

  36. 36
    Laurie W G says:

    Admirable goals! I wish you continued success!

    Success to me:

    A loving, trusting relationship with my husband of 36 years

    Raising four intelligent, polite individuals who go after what they want to be happy and successful in their eyes.
    Four individuals who find their soul mates and who are willing to compromise and to communicate to attain love and happiness.

    Having enough money from our jobs to own a home and buy what we need to be happy.

    Knowing that I am loved.

    Giving back whether it be my time or money contributions.

  37. 37
    Myrna says:

    That is a fabulous turn-around – way shorter than what I experienced. YEAH ! ! !

    What success means to me has evolved over the years. At one time, it was all about power, prestige, and paycheques and now it’s about living at peace with the decisions I’ve made or making new decisions that create peace. That covers the area of finances. Beyond that, my focus is on relationships including – and in this order – my relationship with God, with myself, with my husband, with my children, and with family and friends. Now that my children are all adults, I’m spending a lot of time on my art either advancing my current skills or developing new ones and I’m glad to have that space in my life and to share it with others through blogging and a creativity group. Life is not perfect but it’s pretty good and I definitely don’t miss striving.

    • 37.1

      I’ve been happier with each decade, Myrna, and I hope the trend continues. Part of the reason for that has been that with the end of my hands on parenting years, I have the time and emotional space to create. Life is very, very sweet of late. Hope it stays that way for both of us.

  38. 38
    Jean Paton says:

    My definition of success is being able to look oneself in the eye and be happy with the person you see looking back. Only look into the eyes as they are mirror of your soul. Have no big regrets you can’t live with.

    • 38.1

      You’re the first commenter to mention regrets, but it’s a significant addition to the discussion. I have regrets, but not big enough to overshadow my current joys. Lessons learned, maybe.

  39. 39

    I have the best relationship with a number of girl friends. I have even better relationships with my daughters and my sisters. I feel successful in that I have raised my daughters to be productive citizens as well as supportive friends to others. My friendships keep my going when everything in life becomes difficult.

    • 39.1

      I think one of the reasons Romance Writers of America is so successful is that it’s an organization run by and for women, largely. A certain kind of pre-occupation or insecurity has no soil to take root in, and an ethic of coooperation and altruism rather than competition characterizes the entire outfit. I do wonder if that would change if the gender mix changed, or it’s characteristic of the romance community regardless of gender.

  40. 40
    Kara says:

    A very tough question, I’ve been pondering this one since you posted. I think success is finding your fit, your heart’s passion, what you were made to do or be and doing that to the best of your ability. But the success isn’t only the personal satisfaction or fulfillment you realize by walking in your gifting, but that your gifts have blessed or are a blessing to others as well. I measure myself by this even as I am working to find my fit and heart’s passion.

    • 40.1

      Kara, you bring up the word passion, and my, I think that’s important. When I’m writing, I’m so happy, I don’t want to stop to take a break, answer the phone, or otherwise leave the space I’m in. I really do feel like that’s what I was born to do with this part of my life… but how do we give ourselves permission to cast around until we find that pitch?

      I said earlier I’m on my third or fourth career, and most of us find ourselves entrenched in one career, and that’s the only view we’re allowed to explore…

  41. 41
    Tin says:

    Hi, Grace!

    One of my favourite college professors once boldly said that, if it were up to him, he wouldn’t award the honours awards for graduation until about 10 years later when we’re all out of university and at work — maybe with a family. That, he said, was the true measure of how much we had learned from school.

    Success is tricky. I don’t think of myself as successful — but I allow myself to be rewarded by the small successes that I have had: having two healthy kids, having lost weight (but not the battle against hypertension and anxiety — yet), etc.

    Success must go hand-in-hand with contentment, I think. I love the Swedish (?) idea of “enough” or sufficient. That’s what drives me now — not to strive for too much (and then go crazy) but to strive for enough. ^_^

    Thank you for the great giveaway!

    • 41.1

      I think they call them Alumni Awards. I know Penn State gives them out, because my dad was given one at the age of… 82. Contentment is both a symptom and a cause of success with me. I’ve never really yearned for a lot of stuff, or a lot of a attention. I want peace and quiet, good stories and good friends.

      My nephew has moved to Sweden. I don’t think we’ll ever get him back.

  42. 42
    catslady says:

    I wonder how many people believe they are successful in all facets of life. Maybe because I’m not there, it’s hard to imagine the possibility. But it is something to strive for. As others have said, it is definitely an individual definition and I don’t think you should ever compare it with others definitions.

    • 42.1

      Jeanne, I came around a corner on that issue a few years ago. I’m overweight, and I’ve gained many pounds I swore I would never gain. Failure, right?

      Nope. Were I not determined, disciplined, and dauntless, I’d have gained hundreds more pounds. Failure is success in progress.

  43. 43
    Julee J. Adams says:

    Absolutely great goals, Grace. They are attainable and socially conscious, plus being good for the soul. I find myself working to get back to my anti-inflamatory diet, trying to be more active and getting at least one “project” done around the house each day. These are gifts we give to ourselves and our family and friends. Much continued success in 2014! I’m so proud of what you’ve done!

    • 43.1

      Julee, I’m trying to get one room a year done at my house… with indifferent results. And yet, I believe our environment impacts our sense of well being…

      Maybe this winter… Maybe if I can’t think up any more books?

      Nah–then I’ll have books to read.

  44. 44
    LSUReader says:

    I try not to judge others based on my definition of success. It’s hard enough judging myself against that moving target. My idea of success has changed frequently over time. My college student self certainly had a different outlook than the young working parent. When I worked for a major corporation, I had specific, tangible measures to meet–and success there was reflected in pay and promotions. But I think the more important family/relationship areas also are the most difficult to judge. Thanks for a thought-provoking column.

    • 44.1

      I was working for Halliburton when I bailed on the corporate scene and opened my own law office. For me, that was a good decision, but it did leave me without anybody to tell me when I was performing well, or where my work was falling short.

      And yet, in the corporate environment, I never felt successful. I felt competent–not the same thing at all, but now I must ponder the distinction.

      Thanks!

  45. 45
    Jackie says:

    Grace,

    First of all, I think we can all say with certainty that you are super successful! I definitely feel what you are feeling right now because I am just waiting to get done with grad school before I can finally be a librarian and I feel like my life is moving so slowly! So, I guess I try to not really judge my successes yet but it is so difficult!

    I am also trying to lose weight. It’s the worst, right? However, I love the idea of a treadmill desk. Maybe once I move out of my studio apartment I’ll be able to get one. :) I think I would actually get a lot done. Best of luck! :)

    • 45.1

      Jackie, my deal with myself is I can play all the solitaire I want, but I must play it on my treadmill desk… I’ll keep you posted on that scheme. Either I’ll do a lot of walking, or I’ll stop spinning my wheels with hearts, spider, and free cell.

  46. 46
    BL Barr says:

    Measuring success for me isn’t about what “job” I had (just retired) or the monitary compensation I received. It’s about did affect my students in a positive manner and when I adopted one of these students, was it truly in her best interest. You’re correct in stating we only have the relationships we establish and nurture. Linking with and caring about another person in the end is what I measure my life success.

    • 46.1

      My dad says a great teacher inspires as well as informs. I don’t know what you call a teacher who adopts as well as inspires AND informs, because successful doesn’t seem to say enough.

      I hope with regard to retirement, “the best is yet to be.” That’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it!

  47. 47
    Shosh says:

    I am not sure how to define success, but one way I look at success is raising 5 children and being true to myself. I promise myself I would get that post-grad degree when my fifth child goes to school. So, when my 5th child is kindergarten, I applied to law school. I have 3 semesters left before taking the bar. It has been a great challenge, and my husband of almost 23 years is a great help. I realized that success is not so much about health, money, or happiness, but a fine line between the two. I guess success is luck and a single-minded belief that things will turn out the way that is best for everyone. It is a tall order.