I’m having one of those “I sound like my father” moments. I recently signed a new book contract-perhaps the biggest of my career -and it feels amazing. To have a win like this when mere months ago I was looking at the last roundup reminds me of something my father said: “Never give up.”
It’s hard to hang in there when you’re no longer getting what you’re used to receiving from your life’s work. It’s pretty normal to think about retiring or slowing down. But when you are proud of your skill set, comfortable at the level you have reached in your field, letting it go because of circumstances beyond your control, like getting older, can mess with your identity.
When you have experienced a long-term slowdown, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of thinking, “Well, I guess that’s not happening for me anymore.” This is a common reaction to disappointment. Look, the wind gets taken out of our sails from time to time in life; this last becalm seemed like it lasted half a decade for me-and truly things were not that bad, other than in my head.
If you feel like you are just getting by in life, it’s hard to let yourself feel good about the person you see in the mirror every day. That is a great big hairy trap-and learning to sidestep it will make this life much better.
You have to remind yourself of who you are every day and feel good about whatever you can find to feel good about. When you think nothing is working, you are wrong, because if you are vertical and breathing and can read this, then you have all you need to make things better. Perhaps the hardest part about being a successful human and enjoying the experience is remembering that very basic fact.
It’s only human nature: if we aren’t getting an Oscar and the world is not applauding, we can feel less than. Well, I don’t have an Oscar, an Emmy, or even a Razzie, but I’ve written seven books, and they have been translated into multiple languages. So, instead of displaying my statues on my desk, I have 17 versions of my published books reminding me that I have succeeded and there is no reason that I can’t continue.
I don’t like just hanging around: If I thought I could stomach a tour bus, I’d go back on the road with any rock band that would have me. I like to be creative, and success just feels good, and that’s why any of us strives to improve, no matter what our passion is. As we get better, we feel better. I may be no Clapton, but when I pen a column that to me rips like an awesome guitar lead, it feels great.
No, it won’t last, and yes, you earned it, but no, you won’t get groupies. What you do get is the thing that makes you want to keep going and be the Betty White or Tony Bennett of your field. You get to feel good about yourself at a time when you have most certainly earned it. That may take some getting used to, but it’s not an unpleasant adjustment.