Success is a funny thing. It can be quite elusive. It can also be jaded, like an ex-lover that you used to enjoy tumbling around with. And just like that ex-lover of yours, the way you saw him/her was as clear as day at the time of courtship. But then something happened. Life got in the way. It has a habit of doing that. It's a mightily intrusive habit, but it happens pretty much every single day.
Usually, before life decides to slap you in the face, and distract you from the true meaning of your existence, you have a pretty good idea of where you are at. Because quite frankly, you're no dummy. You know yourself better than anybody else. Sure, not everything is perfect, but then again, what is perfect?
That lover of yours used to be. Until you let that nagging voice in your head tell you otherwise. What started out as quirks and blemishes on their otherwise perfect persona soon transformed and manifested into an annoying grievance that you could not stomach any more.
You also ended up letting the nagging voices of your loved ones overshadow your true feelings toward that ex of yours. Before you can say Charlie Sheen, both of you have split up and moved on to the next distraction of life.
Thus goes the usual pattern of modern day living. I know what you're thinking though. This was supposed to be about quitting your day job and chasing your dreams, wasn't it?
The more observant of you out there would have clocked the fact that I'm talking in metaphors. The truth is, you can use the ex-partner metaphor in all manner of things relating to us and our deep-seated desires.
We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we are all imperfect. It is that imperfectness that leads to regretful decisions being made. Decisions that the majority of people will end up regretting once they're facing their mortality seconds before they leave this earth for good.
I've always been the sort of person that threw caution to the wind. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that I'm quite lackadaisical when it comes to commitment and discipline. It was this laziness, as some of my friends and family saw it, that led me to start a career in self-publishing.
The truth is, I never felt as if I could stomach going to a 9-to-5 job five days a week and only having the weekend to live my life as I saw fit. Unfortunately, a lot of us are left without much of an ultimatum. It's either work the 9-to-5 or starve.
Most people obviously choose to eat.
I didn't though. I chose to take a risk. Five years ago, I decided that I was going to become a best-selling author. I started plugging away at my first novel. After around 75,000 words, I self-edited it and released it into the wild.
Two things happened. One: I got loads of bad reviews. Two: I made £10 in my first month. Now, most people in my situation would have probably become a little disheartened upon reading such scathing reviews of their work. But I was blinded by a vision that I'd had. A vision that I could make money doing something I liked.
So I continued. I wrote and wrote and wrote, never stopping and never giving up. Something strange happened. That £10 a month soon turned into £100, and then £1000. It was incredible to think that at any given moment, there was most likely somebody reading one of my stories.
I couldn't quite believe it. I'd made it. I'd managed to make something of myself. Self-made, self-driven. But then the metaphorical ex-partner entered my life. Life itself was about to smack me in the face. I'd grown accustomed to a certain amount of success. And in a way, I became jaded.
Complacency manifested deep within me. I began to lose sight of why I even began writing in the first place. It was so I could be free. Free from oppression. Free from the unknown. Free from the man. But I became a prisoner in my own bubble. A bubble that was about to burst because of my own doing.
Two months ago, I was in crisis. My usually stellar sales had dropped. Dramatically. As usual, life was here to throw its weight around. It was here to remind me that dreams are just that — dreams, nothing less, and more precisely, nothing more.
I began to listen. And then I began to lose my grip on my future.
The nagging voice was louder than it had ever been before. I was listening to it. Taking in everything it said. Until it told me to give up. To throw the towel in. To start blaming other people for my shortcomings.
And that's what I did. I gave up on hope. I gave up on making something of myself, even though I'd lived through success already. I'd seen what determination could do. I saw what saying yes to your dreams could accomplish. And then I threw the towel in because I was scared of losing everything.
Panicking, I did something I thought I never would. I decided to get a "real job." I hoped that this would solve my problems. I was only seeing things in financial terms. Now, don't get me wrong, when you're scared whether or not you're going to pay the rent, thinking money makes sense. But that's all I was thinking. And as many of you know, that's all that people measure success by these days.
Money is the bar. And we all reach for it on a daily basis. Most of us shoot way past it, missing it entirely. Some of us are lucky to get a goal in once in a while. But to use another metaphor, it's not just the bar or the goal that's important.
It's the ball. It's the player. It's the pitch. It's the stadium. It's the league.
Just because you don't always score doesn't mean that goals aren't worth pursuing. And I'd lost sight of that. I transferred myself off the pitch and onto the bench, ready to wait in line like everybody else for their turn. But once you're on the bench, it's hard to get off it. Because there are 11 other blokes stealing the spotlight and controlling the game.
You'll end up waiting for one of them to get tired. But even then, if you make it back onto the pitch, it's just for 10 minutes or so. And then it's the end of the game. And you'll be back on the reserve team.
That's what happened to me. I lost sight of the goal and the game. I got scared and threw away my freedom to chase my dream. And it's a dream that I built from nothing into something truly magnificent. I was able to pay countless rent checks and food bills with my dream. The moment I began to lose sight of that is when things took a turn for the worse.
When you start thinking in terms of pounds and pence, you risk losing sight of what really matters; progression. Think of life like a video game. You're the main character. And the aim of the game is to get to the boss level with all of your health intact.
There may be a few health potions on the way, but resources are scarce. Decisions need to be made. Do you turn left or do you turn right? Do you take the shortcut through the haunted forest, or do you trundle across the bridge where the mutant trolls are hanging out?
These are the decisions that all of us have to make.
Are we in control of the game, or is Player One away from the keyboard taking a leak?
I've spoken a lot about metaphors in this post. And for the more impatient people out there reading this, they're probably expecting some sort of big reveal to cap off this article…well, sorry to disappoint. I'm gonna keep things pretty elementary. There's only really one point to this post, and it's not about gaining contact with your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. It's about taking risks and not allowing things to become "ex" in the process.
Remember that success comes in many forms. But the easiest way to decipher whether you are successful or not is if you can't help smiling knowing that you're one of the lucky ones. Shoot for that feeling. By whatever means necessary.
It's up to you to make it to the boss battle in one piece. Before you know it, it's game over and there's no respawns.
Don't be caught with your pants down. COMPLETE THE GAME.