You know what I love most about being a professional writer?

There are so many different paths to success. 

I was thinking about this today while reading an article about JK Rowling. 

She recently made some controversial remarks about gender roles, and has been caught up in a bit of a social-media whirlwind. (And by “whirlwind”, I mean dumpster fire)

The scandal itself is irrelevant, but it’s a good example of one of the pitfalls that comes with being a “famous” writer. 

Since Rowling started scribbling Harry Potter on a cocktail napkin in a tiny Scottish pub, the books have been translated into 73 languages, sold more than 450 million copies globally, and gained over $20 billion from sponsorships and movie adaptations.

That success, along with a die-hard fan base, have made this once-struggling-single-mother into an A-list celebrity author.  

Now of course, that fame comes with many benefits! Money (Rowling is worth over $1 Billion), influence, getting recognized locally and globally, supporting fans, getting special treatment…

All that sounds pretty good. 

But not everyone feels like the good stuff outweighs the downsides of being widely-known (paparazzi, no privacy, getting backlash when you share opinions, sweaty mouth-breathing stalkers). 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, take a look at Suzanne Collins who wrote The Hunger Games. 

The success of this other young-adult franchise rivals that of Harry Potter. The first book appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 260 consecutive weeks (more than five consecutive years), and there are more than 100 million copies of all three books in the trilogy in print worldwide.

Yet Collins (who’s $80 Million net worth is nothing to sneeze at) has no social media, appears in minimal interviews, and reveals very little about her personal life to the public eye. 

Personally, I love the idea of being ridiculously rich and successful while fading into the background to live my life in peace. 

But you may not! You might LIKE all the fame and attention and fun that comes with everything involved in being a “celebrity.”

The great thing is – you can have it any way you choose. 

If you want to create a great name for yourself as a writer, like Laura BelgrayKevin Rogers, or Gabby Bernstein – go for it! There’s a lot of ways to engineer that niche-celebrity status. 

But we’ve also have a lot of great guests on my podcast like Brendan FredericksDanielle WeilJames Barger, and Dean Edelson – all successful in their own right, but who prefer to work quietly “behind the scenes.”

The point is – YOU are the one who gets to choose how your business shifts and grows – as long as you plan for it. 

Personally, I like to break this planning down into 2 parts:

#1 – Visualizing

Start by creating a clear and detailed vision for what you want your business (and your life!) to look like.

Dean Jackson has a great prompt to kickstart this in your mind – ask yourself:
“I’ll know I’m successful when…”

Then finish that sentence in as many different ways as you can. 

I’ll know I’m successful when…

…the income from my writing business surpasses my day job.
…I write a book that makes it on the NYT Best-seller list.
…I can maintain my current revenue while working only 1 hour /day.
…I get booked for an interview on Oprah.
… I work full time with [insert dream client here].

There’s no right or wrong, and don’t compare your vision to others. This is YOUR version of success. 

#2 – Action Planning

List the criteria that new opportunities need to meet if they’re going to move you closer to making that vision a reality. 

These are what we call the ROE’s (rules of engagement). It’s a list of “must have” and “must not have” criteria that you use to judge if something will move you closer toward your goals. 

That way, when new clients or opportunities come along – you’ll have a set of “rules” that make it easy to say yes or no. 

Hopefully that gives you a simple way to think through where you’ll take your business in 2021. 

And if you want some help – Join my podcast partner Laura Gale and I on Tuesday, January 12th at 11 AM ET for a live 2021 goal-planning session!

We want to help you set your annual goals, and help you get crystal clear on the systems you’ll need to make them happen.

We can work through the tough stuff together, then make an action plan to get things moving — register here.

Bring your questions, your ideas, and your challenges for this live Q&A-style workshop.