An Unlikely Source of Inspiration

Back in May I took a retirement planning class. It was informative and overwhelming at the same time. Fortunately part of the price included two very detailed workbooks, which have come in handy as I unravel all the details taught. 

In addition, they offered two free consultations with the planner who taught the class. It was those consultations that turned out to be even more beneficial than the class.


The planner was a wealth of information beyond retirement planning. He became the source of inspiration I needed to believe my dream of turning writing into my retirement plan was and is valid and possible.

To have someone who spends their days with their head in the world of investments and numbers believe that something creative was a tangible prospect for my future blew my mind. On the numbers side of things, he did have me write a business plan and included that in the retirement plan we discussed at my second appointment.

BUT, it was the wealth of resources he passed on beyond that that became the spark I needed to ignite my plan for the future.

At our first appointment he mentioned the “10,000-Hour Rule” which he noted is from the book “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell, in which Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success.

Basically the “10,000-Hour Rule” is the concept that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hour.

This concept instantly reminded me of one of my brother-in-laws favorite quotes – 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  – Aristotle 

I had adopted this quote for my Son when he hit middle school and his class load became more challenging. Plus, his musical exploration stepped into jazz music, which meant more practice time. 

It was used as a reminder when aspiring for anything, it’s important to remember nothing is achieved without hard work and dedication, especially when the road gets tough.

Something I’ll need to remind myself of on those challenging days.

Another concept the planner threw out was “Burn the boats.” I had never heard this one, so he gave me the history behind it. 

In 1519, Cortes led a large expedition to Mexico, the goal, to capture a magnificent treasure said to be held there. Upon arrival, Cortes told his men to “Burn the boats.” thus telling them there was no turning back. They either succeed or fail. They had reached a point of no return. Everything from that point must be focused on succeeding. There were no safety nets.

If you Google “burn the boats” you will find many articles on this concept at the roots of success, in all aspects of life, not just business. In these articles it is noted that Cortes was not the only one who used this strategy with success, so it is certainly a valid one to remember when pursuing a dream.

In my position, I’m not quite ready to burn my boats, but I’m in the process of crossing the sea to that island, and when I get there I will certainly burn the appropriate boats, and not look back.

This concept is pretty scary when you think about it, but necessary if you want to succeed. If you leave the door open to turn back, it’s too easy to let your effort to accomplish your dream become lackluster.

For me, I’ve been dreaming about that island for so long, I was beginning to think it was just mirage. Now however, I have a clear vision, with a plan, a plan that depends on me to “burn my boats” when the time is right.

Part of this plan was creating an “I Will….” affirmation, and an inspiration board. It took me awhile, but I finally pinned down my affirmation(s) a couple weeks ago, constructing it so the words were just right, then typing it up and hanging it where I will see it every day. This was another suggestion from the planner that I whole-heartedly embraced.

I am however still working on my inspiration board. I had one from my screenwriting days that I deconstructed, kept some and started to rebuild. As with any inspiration board, it is a work in progress. Some words I need to include are “Believe” “Resilient” and “Progress Not Perfection.”

The last one being a key factor to success. If I get too caught up on perfection, I will be sure to stumble and give up.

Another thing the planner told me is that I need to think of myself as an entrepreneur. This took me by surprise. As a writer, calling myself an entrepreneur was the furthest thing from my mind, but after I thought about it I got it. As a writer who wants to build her brand, and make money off that brand, I am most certainly an entrepreneur.

A very scary thought for someone who never considered having a business. BUT, what I want to achieve is being done every day by people from all walks of life. SO, from that day forward I knew I had to change my mindset. Something that is not that simple at any age, but especially as we age.

To help do this, the planner suggested three books to investigate:

“Think & Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

“The Strangest Secret” by Earle Nittengale


“The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rhone

Needless to say I have yet to read these books, but I have done a little digging and in so doing have mined a few common themes:

“Whatever the Mind of Man can Conceive and Believe, it can Achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

Act as though it were impossible to fail.

People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.

We become what we think about. OR, thoughts are powerful things. If you think negatively, and blame circumstances for your situation, you are doomed to fail.

Indulge in complaining long enough and you’ll cancel your own future. 


You reap what you sow. 

When you think about it, all the themes listed above are basically common sense, but when we get caught up in the tasks of day-to-day life they can easily get forgotten. It is way too easy to give up. It takes a lot of self-motivation to keep the positivity train going, but when you want something bad enough I believe it’s achievable if you keep yourself in check.

The best way to do this is to have a “Positivity Partner.” Someone who has your back when the self-doubting thoughts start to cloud your vision. And when the roles are reversed, it’s your turn to step in to stoke the coals of their positivity train.

During my last session with the planner I noted that I am a goal-oriented person, making short-term and long-term lists for everything, from household chores to my blog business, but I find when I haven’t quite covered enough ground at the end of the day I sometimes get angry with myself and feel guilty.

Reminder – Progress Not Perfection

When I mentioned this, he told me that was the wrong attitude and not one that will spur me on to greater things. He noted that being goal-oriented and accountable were important factors for growth, but chastising myself is not positive or encouraging. 

He noted at the end of the day I should be looking at what went right, not what did not. He referred to this as the “Gratitude Principal.” Don’t dwell on what wasn’t accomplished, look at was, AND, don’t feel guilty, feel grateful.

This of course makes perfect sense, but again it’s so easy to get caught up in what went wrong during the day or didn’t get done, that acknowledging the good turns into a learned process. Unfortunately I believe this is basic human nature. 

So, although I consider myself to be a positive and grateful person, I still have a lot to learn, the biggest being adjusting how I think on a daily basis. As noted earlier thoughts are powerful things, and when mixed with desire, purpose, passion and persistence can be the thing that turns the tide. 

As Norman Vincent Peale, the author of “The Power of Positive Thinking” said “Change Your Thoughts and You Change Your World.”

SO, as I’ve explored and digested all the planner threw at me over those two sessions, I have discovered success takes more than a deep desire and hard work. It takes a certain mindset, which for most means a change in thought and attitude, a deep-seated change that needs to be worked on daily.

A change that I have started to work on, daily, accepting the fact that this will take time. And acknowledging that I am a work in progress is the key to being successful. 

Will there be set backs? Sure, I’m only human. BUT, I’m confident as I work my way through all the reading material I have to assist me on this journey, set backs will be less and less, until they’re a thing of the past.

Originally I was going to focus this month’s post on gratitude, but as I explored all the above noted info and got more and more excited about how inspiring it is to me, I couldn’t help but want to share for all who are willing to read this lengthy post.

For all who do, I hope you find these resources as inspiring as I do. And I wish you success in whatever your endeavor.

Remember – All Things are Possible for Those Who Believe.


As Eleanor Roosevelt stated –

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

SO, don’t stop believing and keep the faith!

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Believe – ©123rf – Olesya Karakotsya

Burn the Boats – ©123rf – Tithi Luadthong

Positive Negative – ©123rf

Photos from my personal collection

5 thoughts on “An Unlikely Source of Inspiration

  1. I gave up on perfectionism and now I just try to be me – Authentically Janie – to the best of my ability. I have to note the books you suggested so I can read them at a later date. I really like Norman Vincent Peale!


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