The I-Can and I-Will Path

Path in Woods toward LightMona’s excellent post “Competitiveness” got me thinking about the crucial question she asks at the end. “Is it impossible to be successful AND happy?” I commented on that question at some length. Sorry. I natter on sometimes especially on the topic of Success, what it is and how we measure it in our own lives. I’m going to natter some more now.

In preparation for writing this post I looked at some of the motivational talks I used to give. I loved doing that back then. Words would fly out of my mouth with a laugh line thrown in every now and then because I have a well-developed hambone gene. But as I revisited my seminar and workshop notes I wasn’t in search of laugh lines.

I was listening for words I’d heard myself say before and needed to hear again. This is what I found on the subject of Success. “The strongest strategy for success in pretty much anything is to get yourself on an I-Can and I-Will Path. And the first thing you must do on that path is fight back fear.”

I certainly said a mouthful there and of course it was a talk for a group of writers, specifically romance writers. Here’s the irony about that. Our romance stories are mostly about women who behave heroically. Not because they aren’t afraid, but because they do what has to be done despite their fear.

There’s no getting away from the scary things in life. They’re always going to be with us. Just like they’re always going to be in our stories or our stories won’t be very interesting. Who wants to read about characters whose lives run smooth as glass all the time? Readers want to see that glass shatter and hear it too.

We want our stories to be littered with sharp shards at every turn because sharp shards make a page-turner read. But we don’t want that in our real lives. We pray the shattered edges we encounter will be dull and we’ll slip past them unscathed. But this isn’t how life generally goes, including the writer’s life for sure.

We have to struggle against fear of the sharp shattering places as relentlessly as our story heroines struggle against the obstacles in their paths. We do that in order to survive, the writing life and life in general, and then go on to thrive.

One way to fight back fear is to change our thinking in terms of the goals we set for ourselves and what achieving those goals really is. We need to stop thinking of our goals as far away. We need to stop thinking of our progress toward those goals as painfully slow. By the way when I say “we” I really mean “I” because I really need this advice.

I know from my own experience that thinking of success as far away and painfully slow to reach is discouraging. It drains us. We lose what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Power of Enthusiasm. He said we must never relinquish our Powerful Enthusiasm. It’s the energy we need to fuel us through testing times.

I’m in testing times right now so I’m going to talk to myself for a bit. I need to see my goal as right here right now, and to see me as progressing toward that goal today. If I manage even a small step or two, this is a successful day. I need to know what I want to accomplish and make sure I’m being realistic, not defeating myself before I start by filling my plate impossibly full.

Back to all of us. At the end of each day, if you don’t think you achieved your goal, look again. What did you actually achieve? How are you not in the same place you were yesterday? To measure that, ask this question. “Have I done what I undertook today as well as I could do it?” Be sure to factor in the obstacles you had to overcome.

If you can say, “Yes, I’ve done what I could as well as I could do it,” then you’ve succeeded that day. Think of each of these successful days as a jewel on the thread of your life, a jewel on the thread of your career. Never underestimate its worth or forget to admire its beauty.

That smells like sweet success to me. It feels like happiness too. Now all I have to do is remember to take my own advice. I wish I didn’t have so much trouble with that sometimes. I guess I must be human.

Alice Orr –


A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page

11 thoughts on “The I-Can and I-Will Path

  1. You’re welcome Joan and Mona. As I say in the piece, I get into these thought circles because I’m needing to travel around them myself. Then I write them down because I believe my concerns are much like everyone else’s. Thanks for reassuring me about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enthusiasm is extremely powerful. Thanks for the reminder. When I find myself losing enthusiasm, I concentrate on the goals I set and step back in the game. Ahh…yes. The sweet smell of success!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the jewel analogy. I’ve done enough gem mining with a granddaughter over the years to know that jewels can look pretty darn paltry in their raw form. So to the untrained eye, that gem is tossed aside instead of cherished. Every day should be cherished and should be used to move forward. Some are just more valuable than others depending on our accomplishments and how we use them. We make the difference, not the passing of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly what we’re all doing or trying to do E. Gem mining. I’ve never done the real deal like you’re talking about but I think I’d love to. For now I’ll have to stick to looking for the diamonds in the rough in my own work and life. Blessings. Alice


  4. After lots of soul-searching, I stopped competing against myself and others about two years ago. It’s made a huge difference in how I view my life.


    • Good for you Gina. I think I’ve done the same thing. I’ve especially stopped competing against others. It’s far more fun to applaud their successes. And to applaud my own too even when a tiny voice niggles as me saying “I really wish you’d done better.” Blessings. Alice


  5. Hi, Alice! My sensei defines enthusiasm as: “the god within”. Not as referencing any particular religion, but as an aspect of who we are. Enthusiasm is a gift we are born with, but we still have to exercise and cultivate it like a muscle…even when we don’t feel particularly driven by the need to create something wonderful. Thanks for the reminder!


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