Pardon me, but I’m a little fired up today. While standing in line at the CVS to pick up some contact solution yesterday afternoon, I glanced at the cover of one of the weekly magazines and saw a feature on how “Ali from the Bachelor lost 10 pounds as revenge”… or something like that. Regardless of why she was losing weight as revenge (which is a pretty strange notion to begin with) or what she actually did to achieve the weight loss, I found myself with ruffled feathers.

I know that on another day, in the not-so-distant past, I would have stood there and wondered what she did to lose the weight, wondered how she might be happier now (I mean look, she got a cover feature), and speculated about whether I should try her methods to lose weight myself. But something inside me has shifted (at least for the moment). Ever since the trip to NYC and realizing my intention to pursue PR for Jess LC, my paradigm has changed. Rather than look to others successes for guidance in my life, I’ve become much more interested in my own actions and using those to propel myself further. I’ve become more interested in how I want to become successful than how others have reached their own successes.

Though I think there is a lot to be said about bibliographies, success stories, advice, and research, I also feel many of us are getting too comfortable sitting on the sidelines reading and watching other people achieve their dreams — and then attempting to replicate their achievements in our own lives.

The problem with this copycat method, I believe, is that it leaves us with a second-rate version of what worked for someone else, which doesn’t take into complete consideration all of our own unique factors. And therefore, whatever plan we follow, is innately going to clash with our individual abilities, motivations, and values – which ultimately leads to dissatisfying results, unmaintainable goals, or a simple lack of follow through on our part. Our actions need to speak to us on all levels, spiritually, physically, and mentally, and it’s very hard to really grasp that in a cookie cutter plan or a shadowed routine.

The one major concession I make in the above paragraph is when a particular plan does meet your individual spiritual, physical, and mental values – then the plan could quite possibly work with flying colors. Take my brother, for example. He has been preparing to follow the P90X routine this summer for almost a full year. He researched, thought about it, planned his meals, and devoted the hours he needed in order to reach his goal. He became so intrinsically motivated by the plan and the outcome that he faithfully executed each exercise and nutrition requirement to it’s fullest. He also reaped the rewards he desired in the process. On the other hand, I tried the Weight Watchers program for several months but finally realized I wasn’t seeing results because I wasn’t dealing with the right spiritual issue.

I maintain that many most of our failed attempts come from the fact that we are trying to fit ourselves into a prescribed routine that isn’t capturing our real desires. Or, we are fearful of failure and rush to find comfort in something that has worked for someone else. This constant focus on the information itself keeps us so busy listening to others that we are unable to actually devote the full amount of energy and attention that it takes to reach our goals.

I think this is because we underestimate how much time and devotion it requires to take action, follow through, and maintain progress. We think that if we “know” everything, we will be able to “do” everything. But the real knowledge comes from personal experience, until then, it’s just information in our brains. To follow with the magazine story example, we don’t really know how to lose weight until we actually drop the pounds. Until then we “have the weight loss information” without any experience to back it up.

So, back to my ruffled feathers, I am finding that for the first time I feel bold, less fearful of failure, and more focused on what I’m going to do next. I’m writing my success story each day that I take new actions and try new things. Not all of the things I try will lead to the success I am looking for, but each step ahead is one further away from where I started. It is a constant process that takes into consideration my personal values and goals. My path will be one-of-a-kind and unrepeatable because I am following my gut and trusting things to fall into place. I am following my purpose which is unique to me. Everyone is capable of doing this exact same thing for themselves, they just need to start tapping into what they know and stop looking around at the people next to them.

My Challenge to You

I challenge those who find themselves easily caught in the research and advice trap to take a minute this afternoon and write your own success story. Write out a future magazine feature story detailing how you are successful in three months, six months, or two years from now at the thing you are working towards.

For example, if you want to create a full-time business but are in a desk job, write the story explaining how you made your business so profitable you were able to quit your job after nine months. Explain what actions you took, what marketing efforts you made, what hiring decisions you struggled with. Write it all out and then use that as your own road map to success. Because when you stop and think about it, the story you just wrote captures your spiritual, psychical, and mental abilities and values. Your plan understands you perfectly and you resonate with it 100%.

In summary, stop reading someone else’s success story and start writing your own.

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  • http://somewhereinchicago.blogspot.com Freck

    I love this post, Jess. The majority of the world is looking to others to mold their success story, why? I’m going to write my own magazine success story this week. Thank you for the inspiration my dear :) (Stay dry today! It looks like it’s raining out there! Ick!)

  • http://www.lovetulipsandtea.blogspot.com Analiese

    I love the idea of writing your own magazine success story! What a great idea. This post is extremely timely for me, as I’m in the midst of making some big life changes, and in the process, figuring out what success means to me.

  • http://sweetteasoundtrack.blogspot.com Holley

    this is a great and very insightful post. It is so motivating! Great advice, great tips, and I do believe I will take your challenge!
    :)

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  • http://www.labellabungalow.blogspot.com Rachel @ La Bella Bungalow

    Thank you for this post Jess! I really needed this today. I have found myself lately getting caught up in the minutia of how other people have forged their paths. I think it is because I want to find myself in their shoes, i.e. be my own boss, but I’ve realized how much of my time it eats up. If I break this cycle then I can actually DO something to reach my goals rather than reading about everyone else’s.

  • http://www.estilohome.blogspot.com Flavia

    I love this post, thank you! It is so timely, as I am actually in the process of writing my business plan. I think your challenge will be extremely helpful to me! I think your point makes so much sense as well. I find that I am always trying to compare myself to others, endlessly reading about how others got to where I want to be, but this is a great reminder that everyone’s path is unique and it is up to me to make my own success story happen.

  • http://www.wiselivingblog.com Tara Mohr

    Super inspiring. Mature. Bold. Exciting.
    Thank you for sharing this. I needed to hear it today.

  • http://www.shopmissmalaprop.com Mallory – Miss Malaprop

    Brilliant post! I agree that sometimes its easy to look at what you perceive as another person’s success and think “why don’t I have that yet?” Especially when you feel like you have a better idea or more talent than the person who is already successful. I think the challenge of writing your own success story from the future is a great one.

  • Rosie

    Jess, amazingly timely post. I plan to write my story tonight. Having done a 180 over the weekend about which dream, my true dream, to pursue, I’m excited and inspired by this post. It is so important to remember that dreams, success, and how we get there is so personal and unique to each person.

    You, your site and your business will serve as inspiration and motivation to me every day!

  • Marguerite

    Jess…again I’m going to say…when you’re ready :) … book deal. This is a GREAT post.

    The one thing I would add is that what might work for someone right now might not work the same way in a year or two because we all grow and change. For example, I’m following a workout plan that did not work for me a few years ago (it was okay, but I just wasn’t into exactly the way they said to do it, so the results were okay). Now I’m following it more closely…but I also changed the time of day I work out to 10 pm (!) and I’m able to do the workout MUCH better now, at the levels they said, which I never thought I could do (so I’ve adapted someone else’s plan to my own needs, too). Not sure what changed in that time, except…me.

    M.

  • http://singlebubblepop.blogspot.com Niki

    GREAT POST Jess!

  • http://sojourning.us .tif

    Thanks. I needed this challenge today.

  • http://www.lilacsaloon.com megan v

    What an excellent post. In such good time for me, too! I am in the process of starting a small business. Using Etsy as a storefront – and blogging as a promotional vehicle – it’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and wonder how I am going to succeed in this world full of beautiful things and creative people. Is there room for me in there? I need to keep your words in mind and keep pushing forward, doing what I know is right for me!! Thank you for the motivation, as ALWAYS!!

  • http://mindfulbiz.com Lisa @MindfulBIZ

    Your post is exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you. I noticed recently that I’ve become “caught in the research and advice trap” and how icky this makes me feel. Today I’m going to take a critical look at all the information I’m consuming and cut way back (excluding the always inspiring MML of course!) to give me the time and mental space I need to find MY voice and take action to create MY success story.

  • http://www.creativesprinkle.blogspot.com Marie Young

    What a wonderful approach! As a writer, telling stories is second nature for me, but I never thought about writing my won.

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  • http://angelaflicker.com Angela Flicker

    Wow, this is really hitting home. I’m struggling with confidence lately. It’s hard because one has to be confident to take risks in a business, which is important, yet at the same time these are financial decisions we are making as woman entrepreneurs. And in the midst of all the hard work we do, often without praise since most of us work alone, well, It’s so easy to see everyone’s success and our short comings.

    Thanks for reminding us to stay focused on our stories, “what we have planned next”. I have so many ideas, journals full of them, and I just need to keep taking steps forward.

    Thank you for this… “I’m writing my success story each day that I take new actions and try new things. Not all of the things I try will lead to the success I am looking for, but each step ahead is one further away from where I started. It is a constant process that takes into consideration my personal values and goals. My path will be one-of-a-kind and unrepeatable because I am following my gut and trusting things to fall into place. I am following my purpose which is unique to me. Everyone is capable of doing this exact same thing for themselves, they just need to start tapping into what they know and stop looking around at the people next to them.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Clara

    A wonderful smart, thoughtful, and much needed post. Having immediate and constant access to a variety of media (particularly the Web) has changed our lives for the better in many ways. It’s made it much easier for us to find a wealth of information about just about everything, including how to launch and run a business. The other, not-so-good side of the coin is that there’s SO MUCH information that we end up in a state of paralysis: if we just keep looking, maybe we’ll find the perfect strategy, the can’t-fail business plan.

    In my own life, looking outside myself for answers had taken on the qualities of an illness rather than an aid. Increasingly, I was spending all my time in what I thought of as ‘research’ when, in fact, I was denying myself the space and stillness to feel and think about what was right for me. I was adopting others’ definitions of success (“looking at myself in other people’s mirrors,” is how I’ve come to think of it).

    I find that those of my friends who are artists working with their hands spend very little time on electronic media. I’m beginning to see how this allows them to nurture their style and creativity by giving them the space and time to reflect.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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  • http://www.makingthishome.com Katie @ Making This Home

    This post is a huge favorite of mine on your blog. The hardest thing, I think, is to define “what do YOU want.” It isn’t what other people want or what you think they want. When we think that way, we’re ultimately stuck in this intense realm of frustration… exactly what you describe.

    Thank you for this.
    Katie

  • http://byebyebitters.wordpress.com/ Helena

    Wow. This is exactly what I needed to read right now. Thank you.

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  • http://theclassywoman.blogspot.com Karla@{TheClassyWoman}

    I loved this post and learned something new. I realized that in a couple particular areas of my life I’ve been doing just as you’ve described. I think we waste a lot of time focusing on what made others successful and trying to emulate it in our own lives instead of doing what we were born to do and watching as our own story of success unfolds.

    I shared this with my readers via my facebook page, I hope it inspires someone today! :)

    Warmly,
    Karla

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  • Sara

    Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head Jess! This is so, so good for me to read! I spend A LOT of time devouring other’s success stories and then A LOT of time daydreaming about my own– classic case of knowing, not doing. Seeking to know, not doing. Fill-in-the blank, not doing!! I love the challenge and plan to do it! Thank you for this!

  • http://jesslively.com/ Jess Lively

    : ) Thank you!