These words were printed on a poster, which hung on the door of my first grade classroom. I was inspired, motivated and perhaps a bit tortured by these words. For I was not only encouraged by the sentiment, I was also determined to do my best to live by it—an arduous and often distressing endeavor.
In my experience, there are two types of people, those who are satisfied and those who are not. Without conducting extensive research and collecting subsequent data, I’ve observed that each type’s level of satisfaction doesn’t seem completely dependent on the attainment of education, successful career, promotions, and/or material wealth.
Why is satisfaction so easily gained for some and not for others?
It’s erroneous to assume that an easily contented individual is unmotivated or lazy. After all, one’s ability to feel happy and successful is a complex matter involving many factors, such as temperament, outlook, and value systems.
Alternatively, one who is driven isn’t necessarily careless with distorted priorities and the inability to feel happy. Often drive is the motivation to improve upon oneself and accomplish goals, deriving from either external pressures or an internal force pushing for perfection.
I know this type because I am this type.
As a small child, I was determined to be exceptional at some undertaking. Because, however, I wasn’t the fastest runner, the best in math or an extraordinary violinist, I learned the value of trying harder. I realized that what couldn’t come easily could be overcome with hard work.
But what happens when working hard doesn’t work?
After all, hard work doesn’t always yield success and its accompanying satisfaction. As a writer it is a discovery that I, as well as many others in my field, have made.
You carefully construct your plot, develop your characters and carefully edit your manuscript only to not find a publisher. You publish your book, hand copies to every one you know, market it to everywhere and still not make a sale.
So, what do you do when your good can’t become better? You seek the places for controlled improvement.
· If your plot is disorganized, restructure it.
· If your characters are two-dimensional, add depth, recreate them.
· If you can’t find a publisher, self publish.
· If your book isn’t selling, research better marketing techniques.
Most of all, you must recognize and appreciate each success no matter how small because, as writers, the criticism will come quicker than compliments and anonymity will often prevail over fame. So, the life lesson writing has taught me is to find contentment in each achievement no matter how minor my consideration of it may be.
Writing has also taught me that there are times when one must allow life to unfold in its natural course. As writers, we must not only let the flow of our creativity be organic but also permit our perception of its success to be fluid. For sometimes the less we try to steer, the straighter we drive until the direction of our path to contentment becomes clear and certain.
Although my drive sometimes drives me crazy, I wouldn’t change it. I am learning, however, that flowing with the current rather than fighting against it brings much more success and happiness even as I strive to make my good better and my better best.