Those who are on an academic career track have a particular aversion to optimism. The academy teaches that all great thought comes from having a critical perspective, and so we wean ourselves from optimism at some point in graduate school, and then years later, wonder why we and all our colleagues are so grumpy and dissatisfied.
The problem is that we apply the same critical mind that is necessary in our scholarship and teaching to ourselves, and so we never feel satisfied, at a deep level, with who we are.
This leads us to feel like we are never a success.
Let’s discuss success.
When I think about success, I feel like I’m striving, always looking to the future, always wanting something other than what I have.
But successful people are positive and optimistic. They tend to be proactive, organized, fearless, and ready to take action right now.
Our success is connected to our sense of self-worth.
But many of us have this backwards: we think that when we are successful, we will feel self worth. The opposite is actually true: when we value ourselves, we create the conditions for success.
The way you can put this into practice is to stop waiting. Act as if you have enough. (Because you do.) Act as if you are enough. (Actually, you are.) Work from that place. Be joyful.
Next week, we will delve into this with some journaling exercises. Your homework for this week is to take a post-it note and write the word JOY on it. Put it near where you write. See what happens.
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a writing coach with 20 years of experience teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels in universities, as well as in diverse community settings. She specializes in working with women in academe.