What Is Success?

If you don't know what you want, it's difficult to achieve. (Excerpt from Have Fun, Get Paid: How to Make a Living With Your Creativity)

Before you can succeed in your art, you have to know what success really means. That’s not as straightforward as you might think.

If you say that you’d like to make a living as a professional dancer, you may think that you have a very clear and specific goal. You do not. With no-more information than this, you could end up working the midnight shift as a pole dancer at the Pink Pussycat. Not what you had in mind? Your career trajectory doesn’t know the difference between that and the Bolshoi Ballet. You told it you wanted to be a dancer. Both are dance.

Additionally, in your illustrious career as a stripper, you may find yourself living in a rat-infested fleabag of an apartment with barely enough money to eat. Once again, your simplistic career path would suggest that it’s met your requirements: You’re not working a day job and the only thing you’re doing for money is dancing. You may not be eating prime rib, but you’re eating. You’re also still alive. Therefore, you’re making a living as a dancer.

With that in mind, take some time to spend in reflection and self-evaluation on a regular basis. Ask yourself what you really want and record the answer in as much detail as you can. Once you’ve made it through your list of goals, go back to the top and challenge each one, asking, “What, specifically, does this mean?” As you work your way through the list, looking for any hint of vagueness and forcing yourself to dig deeper, you’ll quickly discover that knowing exactly what you want is a lot harder than you thought.

Repeat this cycle until you simply can’t think of anything else to add. Then go through your responses and reword them into clear, concise, and detailed statements that leave no ambiguity about your desires.

In addition to spelling out what you want, you should also be specific about the timeline. You have to know how much time it's going to take to transition from where you are to where you want to be in order to plot an effective course. Dreams are vague. Goals have deadlines.

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