Self-belief. One of the most important qualities to have if you want success in any career. I think some are born with it and some acquire it from life experience or other people.
In my case, I partly thank my mother for the belief she had in me as a child. Her mantra was that I could achieve ANYTHING I wanted. Of course, I would have to work hard to achieve my targets, and there would be disappointment along the way, but her faith gave me a great gift – an intrinsic sense of valuing myself and my abilities. I’ll always be grateful for that and truly believe the words below, on my new favourite coffee coaster.
Life experience, too, has helped me achieve my aim of becoming a published author. Look back on your life and I’m sure you’ll find examples of challenges you have faced and got through. For me, let’s see… going to university. I chose one hundreds of miles away from home. I chose one of the best courses in the country, for what I wanted to study. In retrospect, perhaps those decisions were ill-judged. I ended up suffering from a stress-related illness. However, I was determined not to waste my years of study. I gritted my teeth and got through the finals. Ultimately, this made my sense of self-belief grow.
And then I got married and brought up kids. Committing to a partner and rearing off-spring have further increased my belief that I can achieve great things. Both have been a challenge. Both have moved me out of my comfort zone. Before meeting my husband none of my relationships lasted longer than a matter of months. As for nurturing kids, I couldn’t keep any plant alive before they came along, not even a cactus!
And I think that is one of the keys to self-belief – pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You’ll surprise yourself if you do and it will boost your self-confidence. I blogged about that here.
It can be hard to keep going. I tried to give up writing along the road to publication, but couldn’t. I used to always think that was simply because it was my passion. But now I know it is also because I had a stubborn, underlying sense of faith. Take the editorial report I once had done, on one of my unpublished novels that is now under the bed. The person who wrote it used expressions such as “what on earth made you think that would work?” It knocked my confidence. Yes, I wept! And I didn’t write – for about one week. But I came back from this sense of devastation that momentarily made me think I’d never see a book of mine in a shop.
Then there was the agent who showed huge interest in my work. They kept in touch. Asked for my next manuscript. However, when they didn’t like it, their tone of rejection was extremely brusque. This experience knocked me sideways – us creative people are sensitive souls. But ultimately, it helped toughen my skin and fed that faith I had in myself.
Just one word of caution though. A sense of reality MUST go hand-in-hand with this self-belief. Take my recent fitness campaign. I now cycle every morning. If you’d told me I’d be doing that a couple of years ago, I would have laughed you all the way to the cake counter! But now I’m out there, pedalling along the streets, every morning before the rush hour. But only for twenty minutes. And not at great speed. I’m no Bradley Wiggins, but I have achieved my target of getting and feeling fitter. I’m me. Doing the best I can. And the same applies to my writing. The dizzy heights of success achieved by JL Rowling and the ilk are so exceptional and I must remind myself of that!
In my latest novel, The New Beginnings Coffee Club, Jenny’s life falls apart. She must start from scratch. Provide for her daughter. Find her own path in life. It’s scary and the story is about seeing her grow and find the self-belief to become the person life always intended her to be.
I recently heard an expression: “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.”
Believe in yourself – because it may be a while before anyone else does and it will give you the courage to carry on carrying on. Just keep on writing and learning and submitting your work. You WILL get there. You WILL fulfil your potential.