You just learned your friend is working with a literary agent. You’re thrilled for her, but do you feel less successful because you are still struggling with your first novel? Or maybe you are proud to have released one book, but then you meet someone at a conference who recently had a tenth publication. Are you afraid you aren’t working hard enough?
Most of us are very self-critical. We feel like we are always playing catch up, and we wonder if we are doing our best. Our actual talent has nothing to do with this feeling—it’s human nature to look around and feel like we aren’t as successful as we should be.
Being critical of ourselves isn’t limited only to our writing. In addition to trying to keep up with the Hemingways, we also try to keep up with the Joneses. Do you ever wonder how people live in nice homes with two new vehicles and maybe a boat on the driveway? Do you wonder how some parents always seem to be able to buy their children the latest fashion trend or electronic gadget? In other words, do you feel financially unsuccessful?
Don’t! Negative, critical thoughts don’t inspire us, they limit our abilities and, sometimes, lead to disastrous results. Trying to achieve your perception of someone else’s financial success is toxic to your financial health. It leads to consumer debt and makes saving for retirement more difficult. And the ultimate irony is that the neighbor you are watching is watching another family and feeling financially inferior to them. Worse, those new cars and boat you observe likely have loan payments so high the owner isn’t sure how to make the payments.
This November, I want to give you another perspective on your writing and your money. I want you to quit stressing about everything and begin to be thankful.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it focuses on gathering around a table with no gifting expectations. It’s that beautiful, relaxing day of family, food, and football, with a little Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning. It’s also the one day out of the year where we focus on thankfulness. When we’re thankful for what we have and where we are, we’re nicer to the people around us. We’re also kinder to ourselves.
When I use the word “prosperity,” I’m not talking about money. Of course, financial security is important, but prosperity is also your family, friends, health, pets, and fulfilling careers. It’s easy to look at our lives from a perspective of scarcity—the success that isn’t ours, the work we haven’t done, the items we don’t own, and the money we don’t have. Instead of that, I want you to make a Thanksgiving resolution—focus on what you already have, and be grateful for your own prosperity.
So, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner (you can diet later), watch the game, hang the lights, and read some nice comments about your writing. You can even go shopping on “Black Friday” if that’s your thing! You know not to overspend, and if you focus on the joy of the event, you will have fun. If you are having fun, you are less likely to make poor financial decisions. In fact, being thankful will have a positive impact on all your life—from your manuscripts to your money! Let the Hemingways and the Joneses take care of themselves.