When you get rejected, the popular response is to quit. That's why most people don't pursue their passions or live their dreams.
But the correct response is to keep going, and to go so hard, by the time you are accepted, you don't actually need anybody's opinion but your own.
Take my early freelance career: I'd get a nibble or two. But then, I'd get rejected. So, I'd tuck my tail, curl into a ball and pretend I was dead.
To my untrained mind, the rejection meant I was an imposter. And I fed those imposter feelings by doing more of nothing, which in hindsight was the worst possible thing to do. I'd make $5,000 a year if I was lucky, and I had to settle for living with mom and dad.
Fast forward to today. It's four years later, and I have my work plastered on the best sites around the web. I'm independent, and I'm doing what I love.
I still get rejection slips, though.
A magazine politely told me to suck it last week. But I don't feel the sting so acutely because I have 30 more irons in just as many fires.
I keep my confidence high because I know that at least one of my 50 queries or interviews will pan out. And I keep my mind focused on moving forward by continuing to do my best work, setting goals and living the way a successful person lives.
I still want to crawl in a hole and die on occasion. But I never let that feeling stop me from making progress.
Because stopping is incorrect.
I borrowed my persistence strategy from Louis L'Amour, who is the famed author of 60 bestsellers.
Pictures of his query log reveal one acceptance letter for every 20 stories pitched. Louis went on to say in his autobiography that the only way he kept going was by having hope. He stoked his hope by putting out so many pitches, it would be mathematically inconceivable for them all to get rejected.
As long as I had the hope of acceptance, rejection never got me down.
So, whatever you have to do, keep your hope alive. That means keeping your forward momentum through any means possible.
It means applying your time and talents to as many different outlets as you can. It means stopping your “poor me” thoughts dead in their tracks, and reversing your inner dialogue with some affirmative action.
Because if you're doing your best, then you are a success. You don't have to worry about what others think because they don't determine your actions: That's your job.
Just make sure you feel good about yourself.
When you feel like quitting, train your mind to go into hyperdrive. Do everything in your power to advance your station.
Those efforts will often be small enough to seem insignificant. But when it comes down to forward momentum or a backslide into normalcy, those small efforts will create the tipping point.
If you've done enough, you'll progress into your success, and nothing will be able to stop you.
But if you've wallowed because you thought you should be further along than you are, then you'll want to wallow even more when you think of how much further you could've gone... if you'd only given the effort.
So, the next time you catch yourself feeling like dog vomit, do something. Do something good that's contingent on your values and gives you hope.
Effort is the answer.
As a freelancer, I've gone through tough times... especially at the beginning. Even recently, I had a holiday lapse where I could barely made ends meet.
But instead of crawling into a hole and dying, I pitched person after person and business after business. I wouldn't allow myself to defeat myself through inaction.
So, even though I felt like a speck, I kept creating value and putting myself out there. And today, I have so much work coming at me that I have to hire other writers to help with the load.
I still have more irons in the fire, and I'm still feeding my confidence.
This reminds me of the old Indian parable of the little boy and his grandpa. The grandpa told the boy that every person has a good wolf and a bad wolf inside of him.
The boy asked which one wins, and the old man replied, “Whichever you feed.”
So, feed your confident beast. Feed your sexy beast. Feed your rich beast. Feed your happy beast.
Feed your productive beast. Feed your smart beast.
And when the "poor me" wolf howls, let him starve. The same goes for the imposter wolf, the complacent wolf, the lazy wolf and the hopeless wolf.
When in doubt, do your best.
Do something. Do anything.
In fact, stop reading this article: Just get out there and do the damn thing.