“To fail is a natural consequence of trying, To succeed takes time and prolonged effort in the face of unfriendly odds. To think it will be any other way, no matter what you do, is to invite yourself to be hurt and to limit your enthusiasm for trying again.”
“If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.”
“The secret of success is knowing what the best next step to take is — then taking it.”
I relish all three of these quotes, but I really love the third one about taking the “best next step.” This little gem popped into my personal universe courtesy of my friend-and-mentor Rob Gilbert’s fabulous Success Hotline (973.743.4690).
I don’t know about you, but in my writing life, I find that that it’s easy for me to become unfocused and overwhelmed. Pondering a daily writing task I’ve set for myself can seem overwhelming. Thinking about the explosion of children’s titles competing for kids’ attention and whether my own book-to-be will be able to make its way among them can be overwhelming. Looking for representation can be overwhelming. You get the picture — and I’m betting that you often feel the same way.
“Overwhelm” — that’s a loaded word, isn’t it? One of its simplest meanings is “to overpower in thought or feeling” — and that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Because when you’re overwhelmed you feel overpowered — as if you are not equal to the task at hand: It’s too big, too complex, too demanding, too scary — to tackle.
But our pal David Viscott, a psychiatrist and author of self-help books like Emotionally Free, has given us a simple antidote: “the best next step.” When feelings of “overwhelm” threaten to swallow you up, just stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “What’s the next best step I can take here?” Then see what surfaces — and just do it. Most of the time, we know what this next step is, so it’s not all that complicated. We just have to isolate it and commit. And here are a few more words of wisdom from David that are tailor-made for us: “Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors.” Write on!