Cycle 3.6 Success Your Way: O.P.E. (Other People’s Expectations)

Janet overcome with Wild Book Happiness!

Look a book Phil

By Janet Grace Riehl with Stephanie Farrow

Our families and the mainstream culture all give us their own definitions of success. These glimmer in our minds. If we are not measuring up to these expectations, we are drug down. Any external definition of success guarantees unhappiness. We need to find our own tailored definition of success.

This individual definition is especially important in the
arts and in our writing. Go to a party, and say you’re a writer. The responses
you get in the United States are shaped by popular culture and run like this:

“Would I have read anything you wrote?” (In other words, “Are you famous?”)

“Do you make money doing that?” (In other words, “Can you make a buck off this? Did it make your fortune for you?)

These types of conversations can leave us feeling that if we haven’t appeared yet on the Oprah Winfrey Show, or made the New York Times Best Seller List, that we are wasting our time. Without fame and fortune, where is the glory? Gotta think big.

Maybe not. Sometimes, when we are following a passion, it’s better not to define success in terms of OPE (Other People’s Expectations). What are your expectations and desires? Thinking on a small to medium scale, might prove more productive.

Open Sez Me

Each of us has our own set of opportunities. We can improve our chances of creating our version of success by asking these four questions:

· 1) How do you define success?

· 2) Are you willing to work to get it?

· 3) How would you recognize it if it walked in the door?

· 4) What would you do if you had it?

Defining Success, Your Way

Do you need to make money from your writing? Do you need an
audience? If so, how big an audience do you need? What purpose does your
writing need to serve?

Here’s is a sample writing success definition based on the prompts

1) Writing success for me means being able to write regularly as I continue to refine my craft. Writing is important for me, but I don’t count on it for my livelihood. I write mainly for myself (or family and friends or critique group and writing buddy).

2) I’m willing to set aside time to write at least an hour a day, even if it requires effort.

3) If it walked through the door, my writing success would wear a handmade shawl I knit myself. I’d be progressing in my craft. I’d be learning new things about myself and the world around me.

4) If my writing success came true, I’d be satisfied that I was doing my best, and content with my progress.

Grow your definition as you do.

Put in your first definition in the washing machine and see how it spins. As time goes by, your definition of writing success my evolving to adapt to changing circumstances and desires. Keep current with that personal

If your definition lags behind or is out of sync with your life, you will also be unhappy. For instance, the sample definition above may need to include the wish to increase your outreach to a wider audience. Include that. Or, your audience becomes more defined as you focus on particular topics.

Keep in touch with yourself and stay true.


Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog in the comment section below.

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3 responses to “Cycle 3.6 Success Your Way: O.P.E. (Other People’s Expectations)

  1. You’re so right, Janet. We often operate by out-of-date definitions of personal success. It’s really important to sit down every so often and figure out what’s really important. Especially true in times that are rapidly changing, like our own.

  2. Thank you, Susan. This question seems to be particularly important for Story Circle Network with it’s range of experience, purpose, and types of success.
    The Story Circle Network’s process is designed for optimal nurturing. If we know where we are in our definitions of success–and if we know that wherever we are is okay–makes participation that much safer.
    Janet Riehl

  3. Edith O'Nuallain

    Another timely reminder to follow our own star, to learn how to remember that what is good and meaningful and positive in our lives is often enough.We do not need to be always looking beyond ourselves. My personal definition of success at the moment is simply to find the time to sit and write. Oh yes, and to read, and meditate, and discover the rich veins of fertility that lie hidden within solitude and let the blood flow freely across the virgin white page.
    Edith O Nuallain, Ireland

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