No, it’s not a national holiday, and no one famous has died (at least I hope not). It’s just an ordinary day. The second to the last day of 2016. BUT it is my birthday (and LeBron James’). It’s also “No Interruptions Day.” So excuse the interruption, but this entitles me to share a few thoughts, right?

You see, I’ve picked up a bit of wisdom this year, what with writing and publishing a book and all. I figured today would be a good time to impart a gem or two to whoever is reading this post. YOU!

Consider this your lucky day.

Don’t Give Up (Too Soon)
I read a recent blog post encouraging the reader to toss out anything in their life that doesn’t make them happy. Stuff like their job that’s less than satisfying or a spouse or a friend who never gives back. It’s all about focusing on yourself the writer urges. Hmmm. Seems a bit…I don’t know…selfish?

The truth is the job is not always going to be satisfying even if you love what you do for a living. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I don’t like to write. Writing takes hard work and discipline. I have to force my butt in the chair, day after day, month after month, year after year. I have to suffer through gobs of rejection from readers, critique partners, reviewers, editors, agents, friends, family or anyone else who has an opinion. More often than not, writing sucks.

But then there are those precious moments, few and far between, when the long days of writing, critiques and bouts of insecurity reap dividends. Like the moment I wrote the last word of my 86,000-word manuscript or the time I won a writing contest or the day I saw the cover of my published novel for the first time. The high during these moments can’t be bought or manufactured. Their worth is measured directly by the effort I devoted to achieving them.

People will fail you.
Whether it’s your spouse or family or friends, they’re bound to disappoint. The easy choice? Dismiss those people who annoy you, hold you back or cause you pain. Why not? Won’t that make you happier? Maybe. But maybe you’ll miss out on some of the most satisfying relationships life has to offer.

After twenty-five years of marriage, I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t moments when I wanted to strangle my partner. There are times we can’t see each other’s point of view no matter how hard we try. There are moments of resentment and anger when it seems we argue about the same stuff, like we’re trapped on an endless merry-go-round spinning in circles.

We could jump off and save ourselves the pain and nausea. Or we could stay on the ride and work together to bring it to a satisfying end. It’s a choice we make. Walk away or hang on tight. We choose to hang on tight. The ride isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s now bigger, better and more exciting than we could have ever imagined starting out.

Don’t get me wrong. There are instances when no amount of hard work can keep a relationship alive. But if you give up at the first sign of stress, how will you ever know the heart-warming laughter of a deep and abiding friendship? The friends I have who go way back–back to college and first jobs–are some of the most enduring, loyal and truest friendships I possess. These are the friends who made a choice to stay during life changes or arguments. They’ve put up with me, offering a rare and precious gift I’ll treasure forever.

Don’t be afraid to try something new
Fear is a thief, robbing us of future joy. Often it’s easier to stay in a situation we know is not good for us or allow ourselves to be placed in a role that doesn’t fit. We grow beyond the role or situation but are afraid to move for fear of failure. We let other people’s view of us define who we are.

Stop. Now. Today.

Don’t do what I did. It took me forty-six years to drum up the confidence to focus on my writing. I made dozens of excuses to keep me in the same place. I let others opinion of me and my fear of the unknown guide my thinking.

The last two and half years after I took a giant leap into the unknown have been the truest, most productive and satisfying of my life. I only wish I would have made the jump sooner.

A few weeks ago, I met a local Cleveland author who survived cancer twice. She wrote about her trials and what she learned from them in her book, A Beautiful Journey. She told me she’s now living for a higher purpose. It took a dreaded disease to shake her from her comfortable life and move her into a profession of blogging, speaking and authoring books.

Sometimes we need these life events to shake us up and show us what truly matters. But you don’t have to wait for something tragic to happen.

So do it. Follow your dreams. But work hard, stay disciplined and don’t give up on yourself or others too soon in the process.

As my birthday buddy, LeBron James has said, “You can’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way you succeed.”

Great #Birthday #Advice for the #NewYear! Click To Tweet