I attended a crime writers’ conference last week and an author named Sophie Hannah hosted a session called “How to Be a Happy and Successful Writer.”
This got my attention because a lot of writers are plagued by angst and doubt and I thought maybe there would be some useful tips that anyone can use.
We’ve all been there.
Imposter syndrome is nothing new, but is seems like it’s becoming more common.
Between a general sense of isolation and the pressure to meet impossible standards, I seem to meet many people who are feeling unhappy and unsuccessful.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Sophie’s presentation focused on three simple steps for how to be happy and successful.
Even though she crafted the message for writers, the information applies whether you’re a mother, student, or bricklayer.
I’ll warn you up front; even though all the steps are easy, the third step will take some practice to master.
STEP 1: Define what happiness and success look like.
This is so obvious, but how many of us do it?
How about you? How do you define happiness?
Is it money? Is it time?
Does being happy require you to have a nice house, lose 50 pounds, or be in a relationship?
It’s up to you to define what happiness and success look like for you.
STEP 2: Stop devaluing intermediate successes.
Life is a journey. It takes time and effort to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Most times, the trip has many intermediate steps that help us learn new things and hone our skills on our way to our ultimate goal.
We see this every day in sports.
Every team starts the season with the goal of winning the championship. But they have to earn their spot before they can go to the championship game.
They have to beat division opponents to get to the playoffs. Once they get to the playoffs, they then have to compete to advance to the conference championship before they can move on the big game.
Each of these victories brings them closer to their goal and is worth celebrating.
STEP 3: Embrace a happiness mindset
It may not seem like it, but we control our inner monologue, therefore we can choose the positive thoughts over the critical ones.
This is what Sophie calls ‘thought auditions.’
In the presentation, she compared choosing our thoughts to choosing actors in a play.
Any thought is welcome to audition, but it’s your job as the director to “cast the best possible thought and decline the ones that don’t measure up.”
To put it another way, you have to be an active participant in your thoughts to adopt a happiness mindset.
For example, you know you worked hard to gain the skill and experience that resulted in signing that new client. It was an achievement, not luck. You earned the win, but still feel like an imposter.
You can change the narrative.
You can choose to decline the inner voice that calls you a fraud and accept the one that celebrates the win.
What people don’t realize is that mindset is learned behavior.
All it takes is a conscious effort to challenge negative thoughts and allow yourself to embrace the positive ones.
After a while, your mind will start recognizing your wins for what they are and stop downplaying your successes.
As Sophie says, “Happiness and success are not created by circumstance. It is entirely created by your own thoughts.”
Follow these three steps and you will be well on your way to recognizing and experiencing the happiness and success that you’ve already earned.