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TED Radio Hour logoGuess what? I’m still behind on my pages for my MFA program. So this is going to be quick and sloppy.

I wanted to pass something on to you that levels my perspective when I start to think things like this:

I’ll be happy and see myself as successful when…

1. I’m done with this book.

2. I’ve got an agent.

3. I’m published.

4. the people who said I could never write a book are proved wrong. #whatsupnowmotherfuckers!

These four things and many more squeeze my little writer heart so tight that I can’t put a single word down on the page. I might write all day long, but still decide that I failed, that I’m not successful because I haven’t arrived at those four things. When I think this way, I miss out on the joy of story creation and on the many things in my life that I should be grateful for TODAY.

This is no way to live. And not the way I want to live.

But it’s really hard to fight against defining ourselves the way our American culture has taught us to do. I need help to get some perspective. That’s when I listen to the NPR TED Radio Hour podcast called “Success.” This podcast is not straight up TED Talks. Instead, it mixes together related TED talks and adds interviews with the speakers about their TED talks. You can subscribe to the podcast and find the one called “Success” or you can find it here and then by clicking on “listen to the full show” near the top of the page (If you scroll down, you’re just going to get the TED Talk without the interviews or connections.)

If you are the kind of person who feels like failure on a regular basis no matter how hard you work, this talk is for you. Your personal success comes down to how you define that word, and if you’re defining it in a way that is destroying you, then change that definition!