We all want to be fabulously successful, right?
If you answered ‘yes’, feel free to skip on down to the list below. If you answered ‘no’, stay here. I have something to tell you.
Success is just another way of saying ‘things going how we want them to’. If you don’t feel the need to achieve success, it’s only because you haven’t properly defined your own idea of what a successful life would look like. Far too often I see the world of success being given up on by people who don’t see themselves as “ambitious” or “determined”, feeling that they don’t want big houses, fast cars, and a glittering career so therefore, they don’t have a drive to succeed. Furthermore, I believe the journey for success had been tainted with images of empathy-void, unhappy people who end up with heart attacks and drug abuse problems. Guess what? That’s all a lie, probably constructed specifically to deter you from trying to get what you want in life, and instead keeping you fearful enough to remain complacent in a sub-par existence.
Reaching for success isn’t some kind of never-ending marathon of pain. If it ever did become such a thing for me, I’d stop everything and look for where I went wrong. It’s not fun or easy all the time, but it should be an overall pleasant picture. One that brings you joy, pride, and fulfilment. Travel, life partners, children, home ownership – these are just the most common definitions of what success might look like. What about diamonds? Regular champagne? A small country cottage? A house with a personal library in it? What if you are a collector? Gems? Perfume? Antiques? How about supporting that charity close to your heart? Being able to eat at a nice restaurant once a week? These things don’t come for nothing.
I urge everyone to sit down and think about what you want your life to look like. Whether you write it, collage it, Pinterest it. It has to be done. Be realistic (if you are 25 and your dream is to become a rockstar but you still don’t have any musical abilities, it might be time to focus on something else!) but don’t be afraid to include things that seem a little far-fetched right now. Don’t worry about the fact that your vision might change or if you’re not 100% sure about everything yet. Life isn’t static, your goals aren’t static. When I was a teenager I thought I’d live in Japan after I graduated, so I started saving money. I didn’t end up moving, but I had the money I’d saved for that goal and great grades in Japanese class, so it wasn’t a loss at all.
Once you’ve envisioned your dreams, you actually have to work towards them. Chop it all up into goals, make plans, create timelines. Believe you can do it. But that’s not the end of it. After that, it’s time to start working. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people, is that the successful ones know when to stop looking at their Pinterest boards and actually get to work. I’m still learning how to ‘get to work’, but the past year has seen me get serious and really look at how I was going about things. I realised I’d been making some pretty huge productivity mistakes, so I thought I’d share them!
1. Only working when I ‘felt like it’
My biggest, biggest, biggest most cringe-inducing mistake. When I would blog, I’d write posts on a whim and post them straight away, no matter the day or time. Even worse, most of my old posts were created in a mild panic state of “I haven’t posted anything in a month”, so a few quick, terrible photos later and half-heartedly writing about ‘life lately’ or some other nonsensical rambling… well, I technically had a post. I was wasting my time creating fairly useless, pointless posts. I wasn’t seeing much blog growth, because seriously, who wants to read a last-minute post about the recent goings-on of my boring life? Not even I was that interested. I knew I could do so much better if I started writing with a purpose.
These days I plan my posts in advance on a calendar, I have a notebook full of ideas, and I know exactly what photos I need to take or what copy I need to write. And if I don’t feel like working? I don’t give a flip, Emily!!!! You’re sitting down and doing it, no excuses. The best thing I ever did was get strict with myself. I’m still not perfect, I have a long way to go, but my work ethic is developing and I’m only ever improving.
2. Comparing myself to others
… And worse, comparing myself to the wrong field of people. I used to really only read successful top fashion blogs, and it really distorted my idea of what success was meant to look like for a blogger. I constantly felt discouraged by the fact that I had no way of creating such high-level imagery and it put me off trying to create. I have a drive to be ‘the best’ and it seemed impossible to be the best in that highly-saturated field.
What I should have been asking was why I felt I wanted to be a fashion blog at all. I love their blogs and they work extremely, inspiringly hard, but once I thought about it, I didn’t want a blog full of photos of me in clothes. I don’t have the energy or means of creating that kind of content. Not to mention the fashion blog market is completely over-saturated & most are moving into ‘lifestyle’ now anyway. My strong suit is writing, not creating magazine-worthy editorial content and being a model – and, surprise surprise, my writing is what people comment, message, and e-mail me to appreciate. The audience I attracted were attracted by the skills I did have, not the ones I didn’t, and once I realised how best to play up my strengths I was home free.
3. Doing What I Thought I ‘Should’
Leading on from the last point, I found I was often looking to other blogs as I guide for what I ‘should’ be doing. Sometimes I’d end up writing on topics I didn’t care about, or focusing on things that didn’t truly reflect who I am. This was especially a problem whenever I was stuck for content, and I think it’s fairly common for anyone to do when they are trying to find their feet. However I knew I had to start putting some effort into thinking of my own ideas, otherwise I would lose interest altogether, and wouldn’t attract an audience.
Once I started brainstorming I realised I had quite a few good ideas that hadn’t really been done in my own way before (or at all). My medley interests of history, theatrics, and imagination, meant that even if I was borrowing core ideas I could present them in my own unique perspective. I don’t know of anyone else who does style guides the way I do, and my plans for future features were all born out of mild frustration that no one else had done it for me to look at!
4. Not Defining Success
As I already mentioned, success is highly personal and subjective. Success may also be different between our family lives and our professional lives. In a personal sense for me, success more or less has an ‘end point': I’d like a home, regular travel, and a family. Professionally, however, I never want to stop. When I meet my goals I feel successful, but success, in itself, is something that I hope will keep stretching on forever. I hope to always be creating and contributing. For some, the professional side of things is only a means to reaching the ideals of personal success, such as working hard and earning X amount in order to afford a house, family, and retirement. It is such a variable concept, and most people get stuck in the same place because they are too caught up thinking about what they are not and what they don’t want. You can’t move forward on that, you can’t make goals of of it. There’s no destination in the negatives.
My experiences are obviously mostly blog-related, but they translate to all areas. I also compare myself to people I went to school with, and sometimes feel inadequate before I remember that just because they’re happy and appear successful, it’s not my idea of success or what would make me happy so I should quit it and be happy for them.
What are some productivity mistakes you’ve made? I need to know in case I’m making them…!!