• Jill Jepson
  • [Breakfast with the Muse] Tranquility vs. Ambition: Finding the Delicate Balance
[Breakfast with the Muse] Tranquility vs. Ambition: Finding the Delicate Balance
Written by
Jill Jepson
January 2015
Written by
Jill Jepson
January 2015

I don’t write much about success. I seldom write about goals. The notion that we should continually strive to be better versions of ourselves sets my teeth on edge. I believe the constant setting of goals and grasping for success is a surefire way to make yourself miserable.

Still, the notion of success looms large for writers, myself included, and to completely ignore it is to turn away from something essential in our lives. In one way or other, virtually all of us want to be successful.

Recently, I’ve been thinking of ways to reconcile these two impulses. As I enter the new year, I wish to bring together the desire for a peaceful, self-loving life and the urge to do better and achieve more in the future.

What I’ve found is that it is quite possible to balance these two ways of being and working. It just takes a little refocusing. It takes thinking about success in a fresh way—and making sure the desire for it doesn’t take over your life.

Here are six ways I keep myself centered and happy while working to become a better writer and get my work into the world—and how you can, too.

Claim your own definition of success. Do not buy into anyone else’s idea of what will make you successful. Many feel getting published is the central thing that defines success for a writer. Some may feel they need to have a best-selling book—or five—to be successful. To others, success may mean having 1,000 followers on their blog. But there are also people who have more individual, unique ideas of what success is, like writing a single strong poem every day or creating humorous stories that make their friends laugh.

Figure out what success means to you. If it includes traditional notions of success, fine. If it means something totally different from traditional ideas, also fine. Make it clear. Make it specific. Claim it.

See the potential for success in your life. Whatever success means to you, see it as a potentiality that exists in your life at this moment. Success isn’t a gold ring you have to desperately grab at or some distant destination on top of a mountain peak. It is a reality that is gradually manifesting. It sometimes unfolds quickly, sometimes imperceptibly. But it is happening, even now.  

Plant the seeds of growth and change today. Do the right things now. Identify your strengths and build on them. Acknowledge your weaknesses and deal with them. Practice. Hone your skills. Find ways to grow and learn. See your writing as a garden. To make sure it will one day yield beautiful flowers or healthy fruits, plant it and tend it well today.

Learn patience and persistence. These twin qualities are more important than any others in making the potential of success become a reality in your life. Patience means the ability to wait without frustration, despair, or anxiety. Persistence means the energy to work and keep working, not for a month or a year, but until. They sound like such old-fashioned virtues—like something our grandmothers might have told us when we were children. Guess what? Our grandmothers were right. Together, patience and persistence create powerful magic.

Live in the moment. Do not believe for a minute that you cannot be happy until you’ve achieved your goals, that your writing won’t be legitimate until you’ve crossed some imaginary and arbitrary line. Love your writing, your life, and yourself as they are, even while you work to improve. Take advice from spiritual leader Ram Dass: Be here now.

Jill Jepson is the author of Writing as a Sacred Path. Read more of her posts at WritingaSacredPath.com. Join her at the Reignite Your Life Video Summit for Women 50+.


Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • Jill Jepson

    You say it beautifully, Jessica. I think the word we're both going for is "intention."

  • Jill Jepson

    Glad you liked it, Cate. That getting-in-you-own-way thing? I know that all too well.