Success.

One of the first suggestions Bob Bly makes in Getting Started as a Freelance Writer, a book I purchased a few years ago and have recently dusted off, is to determine what success looks like to you. If you don’t know what constitutes “success,” how can you achieve it? I’ve certainly been thinking about this with regard to my writing, setting goals along the road to success, and also creating an image of success that I would like to reach and either maintain or exceed. Some aspects of that picture are purely financial: one piece is that I would like a certain amount of money in savings. Others will be emotionally satisfying: each time I see my byline in print, for example. All of them together will make me feel as though I have “arrived,” like I’m a “real writer.”

I think this is a concept I can apply to my personal life, as well. What does a successful relationship with Joshua look like to me? With other family members? Friends? Lovers? How often should I reevaluate my idea of success in each of these?

I was talking with Lisa the other night about the way people are often promoted into positions where they now supervise the people doing the job at which they previously excelled. Sometimes this works well and that person discovers and develops leadership traits in addition to knowing inside and out the tasks their new subordinates perform. Other times, they don’t have innate managerial skills and are unsure how to obtain them, and they either micromanage or don’t manage at all, setting themselves and their team up for failure.

Is this what sometimes happens in intimate relationships?

Do we sometimes promote an amazing lover to partner status, only to find that the traits we loved when we were dating them don’t translate so well to the exclusive partner lifestyle? And if so, wouldn’t it make sense to move forward with that knowledge and change to the structure that felt so amazing before, rather than plodding deeper into an unsatisfactory arrangement and ruining everything in the long run?

That’s all the time I’ve got (gotta love half hour lunch breaks!), but I know I had a situation like this where I could have saved myself a lot of hurt, time, and money by sticking to my initial plan of reevaluating a relationship a month into its new stage. Oh, hindsight, you gloriously perfect wench, you.


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