STYLE Savvy: What is Success, Anyway?


Last weekend, I attended a writers’ conference that was both uplifting and humbling. Because my daughter’s prom coincided with the second night of the conference, I did a lot of running back and forth. I won’t bore you with the details of the creative insecurities that sometimes surface during these events, particularly when they collide with mom-of-a-graduating senior angst. In fact, I only bring this up because the weekend reinforced something I say here at STYLE Savvy quite often.

It’s a process.

Just as some writers hit it big (seemingly) out of nowhere while others toil in obscurity for decades, some of us achieve organizational success more rapidly than others. And, as my sister reminded me when self-doubt came crashing down with last weekend’s rain, it’s all about how we define success.

Those of us who organize in less-than-traditional ways are particularly vulnerable to organizational insecurity. Last week, I focused on strategies that help us to see progress in small ways. This week, I want to focus on the mindset we need to succeed — whether it’s in organizing, writing or life.


Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain.

Define success personally and in realistic terms. A mother with three children under the age of five will, of necessity, have a different definition of “organized” than a mom with three grown children who no longer live at home. The sheer volume of stuff is likely to differ in these two houses, along with the amount of time each person has available to devote to clean-up and organization. Do what you can do in your situation, and set out to achieve your personal best, not someone else’s.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Each style has its own pros and cons and looking good is only part of the battle. I know I put it somewhere organizers and cram and jammers are likely to look more organized than I need to see it folks, but when it comes to finding the thing in question, I need to see it folks are likely to have the advantage.  Focus on your pros and seek to improve your cons and let everyone else worry about his or her own.

Neat wasn’t built in a day. Those of us who have to work at staying organized are often frustrated by how long it takes to get things organized in the first place and exhausted by how much work is involved in keeping things organized in the second place. Over time and with personalized systems, it gets easier, but it remains a process — something that must be worked at consistently and often. We may “arrive” when we set up the perfect system, but life keeps traveling by, bringing with it new challenges…and more stuff.


Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

“Never” and “always” set us up for defeat. One “fun fact” I heard at the conference last week was the number of followers on social media necessary to get a particular agent to sit up and take notice. Looking at my current number and comparing it to his magic number makes me pretty certain that “never” applies here, but, if I make that declaration, I’ve put an obstacle in my own path. Maybe I’m right. Maybe it will never happen, but if I choose to believe that’s the case, all I’m doing is giving myself a reason to stop trying. Similarly, maybe every room in my house will never be completely organized all at the same time, but believing that sets me up for failure. Why on earth would I want to do that?

Mind games? Maybe. But our thoughts guide our actions, and by adopting a mindset of success, we’re more likely to achieve success.

However we define it.

Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and is a blogger at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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