Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hard work, success, and living in the moment

One thing I have always known, is that there is no direct correlation between hard work and success.

You can work hard for years and never succeed. You can also succeed at something with very little work.

That's not to say hard work is meaningless... just that it never guarantees success.

I think my dyslexic is a perfect example. No matter how well I hide it, how hard I try to overcome it, or how smart I work around it, I'm always going to make mistakes. I'm never going to be able to pursue higher-level math, physics, or anything that requires numbers to be calculated correctly. I'm always going to miss things and will often get confused when I'm reading if the grammar/wording is overly complicated. Reading/writing other languages will always be more difficult than for the average person.

Yeah, that sounds pretty negative, right? But I'm not trying to be.

Actually, I think being realistic about hard work/success is essential to one's pursuit of happiness.

Take writing for example. Do you succeed when you get an agent? When you sell your first book? When you hit the bestseller's list? When you go into a second, third, or fourth printing? When you get a 3-book deal? International sales? A movie? When you can quit your day job? Buy a Mercedes, a house, or a cottage on a lake?

When you hit one goal, there is some momentary satisfaction, but it's human nature to ask, "what goal do I strive for next?"

Success isn't a plateau, it's a constantly moving point on the horizon.

If that isn't understood, then I think it's impossible to be happy, because you'll never be satisfied with what you have, with where you are, and with the goals you have already reached.

I think about this a lot, probably more than the average person, because every time I get a cold, or don't sleep well, my ability to read and write becomes compromised. I feel like less of a person when I have to struggle to communicate my own thoughts, or to comprehend the words of another person.

At the same time, it makes me appreciate what I have been able to accomplish, the level I'm able to reach when operating at my best.

That's what hammers home that writing, or truly any goal, isn't like a short distance sprint. You can't reach the goal, win, and that's it. Instead, it's a matter of ongoing, daily dedication, like going for a run every morning, simply because you love it.

I'm not a Buddhist, but back when I was studying comparative religions, there was one philosophy of Buddhism that really struck me. The idea that you should put 100% of your attention, concentration, and effort into whatever you're doing at that moment in time.

I never make New Years resolutions, but if I did, I would try to wake up every morning with that philosophy in mind. To commit myself to enjoying the moment I'm living in rather than being anxious & hungry for future goals, or regretful & dwelling on past failures and missed opportunities.

I want to enjoy every moment, because it will never come again. I want to enjoy writing, not because I want to get published, because I want to be a bestseller, because I want a movie deal or a new car... I want to write because I love it, because I love putting down words, creating stories, and finding characters. Even the times I get frustrated, have writer's block, or am so tired I can't put together a single coherent sentence. I want to savour those moments, because they only happen once.

Sure, it is important to look ahead and plan accordingly, just as it's important to look behind so past mistakes aren't repeated, but the focus should always be on the moment at hand because that moment is the only one which is malleable.

Due to stress and insomnia, I've been offline for more than a week, and I admit, I've been really frustrated at my inability to read and write, but today I kindof made peace with it.

This morning I spent four hours weeding the front gardens, even though it's only 3.0C* outside. It was a beautiful day, crisp & cold, the sky a blinding blue, and the ocean a wind-rippled slate. My raven boyfriend** was in the tree chattering away, and neighbours I haven't seen in two months stopped their car and we talked for a while. There were four bucks wandering around, drinking from the pond and play-fighting each other with their stubby antlers. My fingers, ears, and toes ached from the cold, and the top 2" of soil was frosted so hard, I had to stomp with my boots and whack my shovel to break it up and remove the weeds, but I had fun.

Instead of worrying about the past and the future, I put all my attention, concentration, and effort into what I was doing.

I remembered that every moment is precious, even if it's not a moment of success.

Now, if I can only hold onto that feeling of contentment, maybe I can keep my whirling brain silent and get a decent sleep tonight :)

**Perhaps a story for another time


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)