You’ve probably done this before: Googled someone you know—maybe a friend from high school, maybe a work colleague—and felt a stab of jealousy when you saw how successful that person is. The Wikipedia entry mentions your friend is “award-winning,” the testimonials on LinkedIn are glowing, and you can see from the gorgeous photographs that your new stalkee is in perfect health, has none of the wrinkles you have, and has never had a care in life. So you close the computer feeling really bad about yourself, go to the liquor cabinet, and make yourself a White Russian to drown your sorrows, even though it’s FATTENING and you promised yourself you were going to stop using alcohol as a coping strategy…
I wouldn’t really know. Because, of course, I’ve never done this. Excuse me one sec–
Now where was I? I graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University. I’ve written hundreds of articles in magazines and newspapers, as well as for on-line health sites. I’ve been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on the cover of Smithsonian magazine. In 2006 I was awarded a Fulbright, one of the most prestigious fellowships you can get from the U.S. government, to spend a year living and working overseas. My 7th non-fiction book is coming out in August from Ballantine Books, one of the best known and most highly respected New York publishers. It is co-written with Dr. Paul Thomas, M.D., a pediatrician who has over 11,000 patients in his Portland-based practice and over 142,000 subscribers on his YouTube Channel.
It sounds impressive, doesn’t it? I sound “successful.”
But now I have to let you in on a big secret: the success is only a small part of the story, for me, for the friend you just Googled, and for all the people—whether they’re writers, business people, actors, or politicians—you admire the most. Find the person whose career is most like you want yours to be. That person looks successful now. But to get to that success, he or she probably failed and suffered setbacks more times than you can imagine …
I did a 10-minute podcast called “How to Fail Your Way to Success,” which was based on a New Year’s talk I gave to Oregon writers about how to bluff, cheat, and fail your way to becoming a more successful writer. The podcast is available for free if you sign up for my friend and colleague Kate Hanley’s website. She asked me and 11 other experts to share some e-tools with her readers about how to improve your mind and change your life. And though Kate and the other experts are all yoga and Zen and irie whereas I have a decidedly Type A, worry-too-much, die-young-of-a-stress-related-illness personality, I think you’ll like it.
Now, excuse me while I frantically gulp down some more coffee and rush to meet this afternoon’s deadline.
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D. is the author of Your Baby, Your Way (Scribner, 2015) and co-author of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan (Ballantine, 2016). Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook. Connect with her on LinkedIn.