Episode 12: Success is Personal (aka: achievement unlocked)

Show Notes:

In this episode, and on the tail end of last week’s episode about creating reasonable and measurable goals, You’ll learn about success!

What it is, how to set yourself up for it, and managing perceived failure.

Don’t forget to grab your Quick Start Guide to Writing More in Less Time! It’s chock full of valuable tips and tricks to maximize the little time you have. Check it out here.

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Full Transcript:

Transcripts are created by Descript. Please forgive any spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors!

Welcome to You Can Toucan the podcast for busy authors by a busy author. That’s me, Claire L Fishback author, coach project manager. Published author, amazing wife, dog, mom, and your host and guide to writing more in less time. Project managing your writing life, being your own best cheerleader, and ultimately discovering your path to the writing life of your dreams. 

Get ready to spread your wings.

Hey Toucan! Welcome to episode 12 of the podcast. On the tail end of last week’s episode about creating reasonable and measurable goals instead of resolutions, today, I want to talk about success. 

What it is, how to set yourself up for it, and managing perceived failure. 

Before we begin and dig in, let’s talk about a few different concepts and definitions. 

Last week you learned about the Big Deal Goal or BDG of finishing a 90,000 word manuscript and how to break it down into smaller, more manageable targets. Big deal goals or BDGs are important. 

They are what make you feel successful as a busy author.

They are big picture, high level, all encompassing goals. 

They have deep meaning to you on a personal level, because to achieve one is worthy of a big reward. Maybe even some Dom Perignon or a new car. 

Okay. Don’t get ahead of yourself, Claire. But definitely worth some celebrating, and celebrating and rewards are what will keep you going. 

I talked about this back in episode eight, the breaking bad habits episode and the three R’s of creating a habit.

The second thing I wanted to define for you here before we jump in is success… except… I can’t define it for you. 

You know why? 

Because success is personal, highly personal. 

One person’s success could even look like another person’s failure. I’ll explain what that actually means in a little bit. It’s important to figure out what success looks like to you. And luckily that’s what this episode is all about. 

The third thing is not a definition, but it’s something I learned while starting this little entrepreneurial journey that I’m on and that is, “Stay in your own lane.” 

What does this mean? This means, don’t compare your first book to someone else’s 20th book. 

Don’t compare yourself to anyone, but yourself. 

So profound. Right. But it’s also so true.

Here’s a personal example of mine. I produce one book per year. It’s either a novel, a short story collection, or in the case of 2022, a non-fiction book about productivity for authors. I see other independently published authors, producing a book a month. 

When I first started, I was astonished by this. How on earth could they write and publish a book a month? I started listening to some podcasts by the people who were doing this and learned a lot from them. But the key thing I learned was they’re writing full-time. 

They aren’t busy authors like us. 

They don’t have a day job that takes up eight or more hours per day, five or more days a week. Or even some other variable day job schedule. I know not everyone works a nine to five corporate job. 

One book per year is pretty darn good considering how much time I actually have to write and work on producing a book. 

It is my definition of success, to produce a book a year. But to those who publish 12 books per year? One book a year would be a big fat failure.

This is what I meant by one person’s definition of success looking like another’s failure. My one book per year would not suffice as success for the 12 book per year person. 

This is why it’s so important to set yourself up for success by defining it for yourself. As a result of learning about these other independently published authors who write full time and can therefore dedicate a lot of time to writing and producing books, I learned to stay in my own lane. 

Sure you can look at what others are doing, but don’t compare yourself to them. We’re all different. We all have different definitions of success. Which I’ll get to more in a minute. I swear. We are our own people. 

I think I said that a lot because it’s true. We are our own people. The world is full of unique and extraordinary people. 

So the key to set yourself up for success is to define what it looks like to you. 

For example, when I first started publishing my own books, I wrote down what success in my author business looked like. 

Here’s a few things from that list. 

  • Have a book out to point people to, when I tell them I’m a writer.

Because before I started publishing and I told people I was a writer, they would say, oh, where can I find your work? And I would be like, well, I don’t have anything out yet, which also brought with it feelings of imposter syndrome, which we talked about in a previous episode, But now I have five books out, and so I can point readers to my books when I tell them I’m a writer and they get really excited about it too. 

  • Another thing on my list of success was sell a hundred books. 
  • Sell 500 books 
  • and then have a stranger subscribe to my newsletter. 

This by the way was the first time I used level goals. Back in episode five, the plan for anything, part one, I talked about the level up tool.

The level up tool is all about setting level goals so you can measure small increments of success. 

If you have an easy level, one goal, it will keep you showing up day after day to your writing sessions. So level one, just, just to recap what the level up tool is: 

  • Level one is the, everyone gets a trophy goal. 
  • Level two is a little harder. 
  • And level three is like the ultimate range for your goal. 

You can also use these levels for your success. 

So for example, like I had on my list, sell a hundred books. You could start with sell 10 books, sell a hundred books, sell 500 books and so on and so forth. 

The small incremental goals don’t even have to be actual levels. They can just be small measurements, like selling a book to a stranger because you know, most of your first sales are to your friends and family. 

But there’s just this incredible amount of magic in discovering you sold a book to a stranger, someone outside of your immediate circle. 

Here’s another story from my personal experience. During the launch of my first novel, The Blood of Seven, I did an event at a local bookstore in Denver. Which sadly has since closed, which is just such a travesty because they were so supportive of local authors and the events that they put on or helped authors put on were just so much fun. 

I did a little speech about my book. I read a few passages from the first couple of chapters, opened up for questions, and then the signing of the books. Typical book launch things right? 

Most of the people who came through the line where people I knew some were friends of friends, and then this woman approached the table and she said to me, 

I was walking by, outside on the sidewalk. And I heard your reading and I was so intrigued. I came in and bought your book.”

That my friend. Is the ultimate success for me right there. Though I don’t remember her name or what she looked like, I will never forget that moment when a stranger heard me reading and had come in to buy my book because she loved what she heard. Not only that, but she stuck around for the Q and A, and waited in line to get her book signed. 

It was incredible. I will never forget that moment. 

That is a small kind of success that I thrive off of. 

I don’t read my reviews. I’m just going to put that out there. I don’t read my reviews, but every once in a while I’ll need to go and pull the link for my book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or wherever, and I’ll see five stars and I catch myself before I get too far, but I will go and just scroll through to see who has left reviews. And I’ve seen strangers reviewing my books. And they review them with five stars. That is also another great success.

So, what does success look like to you? You can aspire to be a bestseller, of course, no one will stop you from aspiring, aspiring to that incredible level. I mean, what author doesn’t want to be a bestseller, right?

In the meantime, on your way to the top, create these little successes because they are what will keep you going when things get tough, and things will get tough. 

That is the nature of creative work. 

And just like in the three Rs episode, which was episode eight again, make sure you celebrate and reward yourself for reaching these small successes. Okay? Celebrate all the little thing that make you happy even if you’re just jumping around or dancing in your living room with your dog. Yes, I do that.

Now let’s shift gears because we can’t have the sweet without the sour, right? 

Let’s talk about perceived failure. I mentioned this in passing in the same plan for anything episode I mentioned earlier. 

Perceived failure is when you think you have failed because you didn’t properly set realistic expectations. 

Let me say that again. So if you’re not paying attention fully to me right now, listen up. 

Perceived failure is when you think you have failed because you didn’t set realistic expectations. 

What does that even mean? Claire? 

It means you either didn’t define what success is to you from the start, or you’re looking at someone else’s definition of success as a benchmark for yourself. 

You must be your own benchmark. 

If you don’t set your own expectation of what success looks like, everything will feel like a failure. 

When you define what success looks like to you it makes committing to your goals and the habits you want to create easier. It gives you these little benchmarks to work toward. It gives you feelings of success when you reach those benchmarks and those little targets, every single time, or as often as you can.

To help you out with defining what success is to you, I have created for you the Success Planner. 

Download it at the show notes at youcantoucan.com/12. 

I am so excited about next week’s episode. It is the first of the mini series of project management for busy authors episodes I’ve planned. I hope you are excited about those too. 

As always, if you have comments or questions you can go to, youcantoucan.com/questions. I updated the form, so you can add comments instead of just ask a question. 

So, yeah, that’s all for this week. This week’s episode set your timer go write.

Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. For a quick start guide to writing more in less time, please visit youcantoucan.com/guide.

Set your timer go write!

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Claire L. Fishback

Author coach, project manager, published author, amazing wife, dog mom, artist, twin, and your host and guide to discovering your path to the writing life of your dreams!

Youcan the Toucan


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