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Last night I dreamed of pictures. Special pictures. In my dream they were the images that, if I could interpret them correctly, would allow my book to become a bestseller. If I failed, I failed permanently—my book, my career, my life. The pressure to capture and understand them was a corset being pulled tighter and tighter until I couldn’t breathe. Desperate, I turned to Pinterest to “pin” the pictures with interpretations to my visual bulletin board. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get Pinterest to work! Error after error prevented me from saving anything until, frustrated, I woke, unable to remember even a single image.

I had the same dream four times.

The fourth time, however, things changed. The pictures, once vibrant and alive, faded. Some crumpled and disintegrated. The last image—the only image I can remember—was a picture of me as an old, unsuccessful woman. Drooping skin, grey hair pulled back, and sad, disillusioned eyes. I had missed my chance. My career was over before it’d begun.

After that I couldn’t sleep.

I racked my brain trying to recall more than my withered face, but came up empty. In the blue-black darkness before dawn I couldn’t help but wonder, had I indeed missed my chance? Could these images really have provided the answers I needed to make my book awesome?

Part of me said yes.

Then I thought of Darryl’s statement from a recent Office episode: “My future isn’t gonna be determined by 7 little white lotto balls… I control my destiny. I do.”

And there it was… I control my destiny. I do.

  1. I have a choice! I determine what I’m willing to learn and from whom. I decide if I’m going to listen or if I’m going to plug my ears and sing “la la la la la” while still doing everything my way. I choose what is of worth to my writing and what can be left behind. Those are my decisions. Mine.
  2. I control how much effort I give my novel. I determine what happens in my novel. I decide the ending. I choose when I’ll give up or when I’ll push on through. I decide if a road block will stop me or if I’ll blow it up. 
  3. I define success. I determine what it will look like for me and how I will react to perceived failure. I decide if I’ll keep fighting or if I’ll allow the world keep me down. And I get to choose when to change what success means to me.

We, each of us, control our destiny, our future. If we keep waiting for the book lotto to determine our worth and our success, we’ll end up like disenchanted Darryl, asking to be fired. But if we’ll recognize that we have a choice, that we have control over many, many aspects of producing a novel, and that ultimately we define success, then we will find the fulfillment we seek through writing and through sharing our passion with the world.

Random images won’t save my book. Nor will anyone else. Only I can do that. Only I can build my career, put food on my table and ensure my future. That’s my job. Mine.

I control my destiny. I do. And you… you control yours too.

What will you do to take control of your destiny?

(For insight into the fringe benefits of failure, click HERE.)