What does it mean to be successful?

Have you ever been asked if you are successful at what you do? How do you respond to this? It does seem to be a pretty broad question. Are you successful because you have a family? Or because you own your own home? What about following your dream? Do any of these equal success? It’s relative based on who you ask.

For the last five years, I have been running author visits in schools mostly local to my area. I have traveled as far as Arizona for one, but most of them are within a 30-mile radius. These past three years have kept me so busy with author visits, workshops and after-school events, that I decided last year to quit my day job as a photographer and focus solely on this author thing. It has been the best decision my husband and I ever made!

By no longer being divided mentally between two things (sometimes physically if events overlapped), I have been able to devote more time to experiencing my favorite aspects as a write, working with the students and visiting schools. Would I define this as success? Yes. Again, I stand by what I said earlier; success means different things to different people. Have I made it to a New York bestseller? No. Does that mean I am not successful as an author? Again, no.

Yes, I have had great success with author visits, but like all things, this didn’t happen overnight. It came with lots of hard work and motivation, two things that are vital to anyone achieving success. I have been writing for children since 2009, only within the last five years did I start author visits. Even then, I was literally cold calling schools begging them to take a chance on me. Fast forward to 2019, and I am no longer cold calling schools to speak with principals. Instead, school districts are calling me asking to work with them.

What have these visits taught me? It’s more than just a visit. These workshops help reach the children on a different level. Sparking something inside them that otherwise might not have been awoken. It’s also a great way to help parents have an active role with their kids.
One of the districts I frequently work with has a strong focus on parent and community involvement. I work closely with the lead for parent and community engagement representative from the district office. At the start of each school year, we spend countless hours customizing a specific educational plan to use at the schools that would help encourage parent involvement. I will say, I am unsure who enjoys the visits more. The children, or their parents!

What else have I learned from these workshops? This is where I define my success as an author. Yes, I have won four literary awards for my Little Katie books. Yes, I was once traditionally published, and I have attended an awards ceremony. All of these are fantastic opportunities that I have had and am eternally grateful. For me, they do not equate success. My success comes from working with the students, engaging and seeing a spark light within them. Not giving up on my desire to work with the teachers and their students in the classroom.

Do I feel I have a successful life? Yes, I am happily married and content with our lot in life. I am about to have a second child, and our family will grow by two feet this September. I love my job and have fun. For me, I feel I have a successful life, but that doesn’t mean because others don’t experience these same things means they are less than successful.

For some, success might be having written their first draft. Submitting their manuscript in spite of the fear of rejection they are feeling. Going after a job they are more than qualified for and taking a risk. Whatever an individual does that makes them happy, and they feel proud of, in my book is successful! I cannot tell you how proud I was of myself when I built three of our Ikea bookcases entirely on my on and without directions. That my friends, what a successful day in my book! Each day holds different forms of successful things both big and small. It’s a matter of how you look at them.

Share your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 thoughts on “What does it mean to be successful?

  • Julie Gorges

    Being in this business for decades, I’ve learned not to define success by what’s happening in my writing career. There’s a reason many famous writers who dedicated their life to their craft were alcoholics. This is a wild rollercoaster ride. I wholeheartedly agree with your blog. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Have a well-rounded life and focus on your spirituality and loved ones. Set your priorities straight and you will experience true success – as you clearly have. Congratulations on your exiting news!

  • Rosie Russell

    Hi Carmela, loved your post today.
    I agree wholeheartedly to everything Julie said. Success is measured differently to different people.
    Sadly, I’ve seen many people try to climb the corporate ladder, only to find they risked their family life and health. Everything is a balance.
    I’m so glad to hear you are doing such a nice job balancing out your time as a writer, illustrator, educating readers and parent, but especially working it all around your wonderful family. To me, that is your success.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    PS. Congrats on the bookcases. 😉

  • James R Milson

    Success truly is for each of us to define for ourselves. For me personally, success cannot be measured in material terms, and do not even consider or stress over the term at all. It is so wonderful that you have found your meaningful work and niche thru your writing and school activities, and have defined your own ‘success’, balance, and way to happiness. 🤠🐻

  • Cat Michaels

    You clearly have found your groove, Carmela. So happy for you! But you also put in tons of hard work to get there.

    I am very hard on myself when it comes to defining my professional success. Never as far along with authoring as I want to be. Always reaching for more. LOL….success on my writing road will come when I applaud those little things I accomplish in my daily writing life and give myself permission to be ok with those small victories.