Emma’s 5 Secrets to Success

5 Secrets to Success on A Beautiful MessWhat in the world is "success" anyway? Good question. And honestly, I think only you can answer that for yourself. For example, I'm not all that great at math. In college I only had to complete two algebra courses in order to finish my degree (in philosophy). I went to every class, turned in every assignment, and voluntarily attended a free tutoring session twice a week that my college offered. At the end of each of these courses I got the same grade, a "B." To me, this was major success! I was, and still to the this day am, so proud of that grade! I know some students would have been disappointed with a "B," as they would have been striving to receive an "A." The point is, you decide your goals. You make your dreams. And this gives you the power to be successful. It's totally in your hands. I could have compared myself to other students who received better grades, but what's the point? I worked hard and achieved my goal. That is success. No comparisons needed. 

I don't know everything (like at all). And I certainly don't know everything about success. But, what I have learned over the last few years I'm happy to share with you. Here are my secrets:

1. Positivity is a powerful force.

Being positive about your ideas is like allowing a plant to get sunshine. Good luck growing anything in the dark. I know lots of people who never actually do anything because they think all their ideas are too dumb, impractical, too random, or that if they put anything out there they will get made fun of or criticized.

Listen, the whole world is filled with critics. It's the people who choose to be creators who stand out. Choose to be a positive force in your life. When you have an idea, instead of immediately thinking of all the reasons why it's not very good or won't work, spend a few minutes thinking about how it could be improved. Assume you have a good idea; now how can it be better? Some ideas will end up getting discarded, but not every single one. Be positive first, then think critically to refine your idea. 

Also, and this one is hard, strive to surround yourself with people who build you up (rather than tear you down). Having a constantly negative friend or family member can make it difficult to achieve your goals. How you navigate those situations can be tricky, but staying positive and surrounding yourself with positive people is one of the keys to success.

2. Make realistic AND lofty goals.

The fact that I'm encouraging you to set goals probably doesn't surprise you. If you don't have goals, you likely won't get anything done. Duh. But have you made it a habit to set goals that you know you can accomplish as well as those that scare you a little? If you don't have a goal in your life right now that absolutely terrifies you, like you don't even want to tell anyone about it because it's so crazy, get one in your life. Now.

Attempting the seemingly impossible over and over again is good practice. You won't achieve it every time, unless you're Superman or something. But, like most things you practice at, you will achieve it some of the time, and as you get better and better you'll have more and more success. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to fail 100 times if it means I'll achieve one impossible goal versus never failing and never achieving that lofty goal. Failure is often just a step toward success.

Pro tip: don't put all lofty goals on your to-do list. You've got to keep those more realistic ones on there too. Failure, although a key a success, is also super discouraging. Achieving those realistic goals keeps you grounded and will help you through those discouraging moments.

Emma Chapman3. Don't wait for perfection. 

Sometimes we all need a drop-dead date, you know? It can be hard to finally let your idea out into the world. We all have a tendency to keep refining things, wanting to make them absolutely perfect before we show anyone. And I do think a certain amount of this is totally worthwhile and professional, but sometimes you just need to set a deadline and hit it. Even if the result is less than perfect. 

For example, as I'm drafting this we have right around 3,900 posts on this blog. Guess how many of those were absolutely perfect before we pressed publish. I don't know, but it for SURE wasn't all of them! Not even close. And yet ABM attracts right around 1.5 million readers every month. That's right, an imperfect website has that kind of appeal. We strive to produce the best articles we can, but if we waited until everything was perfect we would not be where we are today. 

I've also been conducting a bit of an official experiment for the past year and half or so. I try to note every time I find a typo in books I read. Guess what? Since starting this experiment I haven't read a single book that was 100% typo free. Many of these books were NYT bestsellers and/or written by famous authors with impressive bodies of work. My point is not to focus on flaws, but to know that flaws do not equal failure. Success is often imperfect. So, you don't have to wait on perfection before you put your work out there. Strive for it, but don't wait on it. Press that "publish" button, and if something isn't perfect, well, you're gonna learn something that will help you keep moving forward. You'll never learn anything by hiding your work behind a closed door.

4. Start now.

This one I am SO guilty of. I think, "Oh, I'll have more time next month to do XYZ. So, I'll work on it then." Or, "I don't feel great right now; I'll work on that later." And so on. I like to think that I'll do everything tomorrow, never today. And that's a great way to get nothing done. 

Start right now. Make a goal, make a plan to achieve it, and then immediately start taking steps to complete it. Do something today to move toward your dreams. Planning counts, but you can't plan forever. Action makes things happen. Maybe you will have more time next month, but so what? What can you do today? Maybe you can't do as much as you'll be able to next month, but I bet you can do something. Do it. Don't ever wait for your dreams to come to you; go get them. Today. Now. There will never be a better time than right now to start. 

5. Expand on success, learn from failure, and if necessary, quit. 

You know how people say, "Quitters never win." I could not disagree more! I don't know about you, but my life is not full of endless resources. I have the same number of hours in my day as you. I'm good at certain things and weak in other areas (like math, as I've already admitted to you). To have success, you have to take all of your life's variables into account.

When you do have success, first off, celebrate (you did it!!!!), then evaluate why. What about this situation worked? Did you discover certain natural talents or abilities you may have? Did you uncover a collaborative relationship that worked really well for you? Expand on these things. How can you have even more success in these areas?

When you fail, first off, celebrate (you learned something!!!!) and evaluate what you learned. What didn't work about this situation? Did you find that you are not gifted in certain areas or you just plain didn't enjoy something like you thought you would? How can you pivot from this experience toward success?

If necessary, quit. Sometimes things don't work. It might have nothing to do with you. It could be that the industry you are working in is going through a bad time. It could be the medium you work on is undergoing change. Or it could be you; you may just not be good at something. That's okay! This has nothing to do with self-worth. You are MUCH more valuable than your current accomplishments, and you always will be. But if something isn't working, my best advice is to quit now and move on to something else. I don't want to be a broken record too much here, but my best example of this is when I quit pursuing my dream of acting and moved back to my hometown to work with Elsie. This was one of the very best (and most successful) decisions I ever made, and it all started with me quitting. Quitters sometimes win big. Don't be afraid to change course if it feels right.

No matter where you are at in life right now, hear this: you are awesome. You are original. You have great ideas. And you can totally achieve your dreams. I believe in you 100%. You deserve to hear that every single day, so please at least hear it from me today. Never be afraid to dream big. Never be afraid to quit something if needed. You are as free to live a successful life as you let yourself be. Thank you for being a part of my story. xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • Stumbled upon this a little late but love the advice and positive attitude Emma! Great encouragement. Thanks so much!

  • “Assume you have a good idea; now how can it be better? Some ideas will end up getting discarded, but not every single one. Be positive first, then think critically to refine your idea.” This line really spoke to me 🙂

  • Great post. I love tip #5 – never be afraid to quit. What I’ve learned is that it’s not that it will NEVER work, it’s that this is not the right time. Just because we quit something now doesn’t mean we won’t start it again at a later time after we learned a thing or two. 🙂

    Sandy @ Simply Intentional

  • Thank you for the honesty in this post. Especially in relation to waiting for perfection – I always feel like I am waiting to get things perfect before moving forward which is just silly, sometimes you just have to step out and do it.

  • Great tips..
    thanks Emma!


  • Yes to all of this! Thank you. I really needed this pep talk today 🙂

  • Just what I needed!! Thanks for your wisdom and inspiration!

  • Great post! Always nice to read inspiring articles from successful people:)


  • Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been rather discouraged this summer but have recently had the fire lit under me and now I am trying to stay positive and do things everyday to ensure that I am going to have the kind of life I want, not tomorrow, not next month, but now.

  • Thank for your inspirational words, they are exactly what I need today. You spoke to my heart. I have been following ABM for over four years and I always come back because of gems like this post.

  • Emma, thanks a lot for writing this. life can be hard sometimes, i’m going through a rather difficult stage of life. i quitted my job a few months ago. i moved back to my hometown and experienced a lot of loliness. and the awful feeling of failure. it took some time but i hope i finally get my old, happy self back. it’s not easy. im afraid to take some new steps, i’m afaid i’ll fail again. but i’ll keep trying to get stonger. thank you once again for positive thoughts. and for your blog Girls, i love to see how you work and life somewhere in springfield. great job, i’m your fan <3 hugs from poland

  • Wow. I normally don’t comment on blog posts, but this has got to be the best one I’ve read in years! Thank you for these 5 wonderful tips for those of us striving to define & create our own version of success. I especially enjoyed reading your #5. It’s so true! Quitting something that’s not working can sometimes turn out to be the best thing you could possibly do!! Thanks for reminding me that momentary failure is just one more step towards reaching the success I’m striving for! : )

  • “Attempting the seemingly impossible over and over again is good practice. You won’t achieve it every time, unless you’re Superman or something. But, like most things you practice at, you will achieve it some of the time, and as you get better and better you’ll have more and more success”

    I love this! This is probably one of the most realistic and helpful secrets to success article i’ve read in a longgg time. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Knowing when to quit is such an important and useful tip! And quitting only makes room for better things anyhow, so no one needs to be afraid to give up on something that isn’t fitting quite right and move on in search of those better things. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for sharing this post, and for being so vulnerable and honest in it. I must admit, I’ve let fear of failure dictate whether or not I get started on my goals. I’ve been known to tell myself I’ll do something tomorrow or next week, but never get around to it because I’m just afraid of starting. This post was inspirational!

  • I follow this blog since 2008, and I’ve never write before, but this post (and the other about you and the end of your acting dream) really came to me in the moment i need it… now I understand tha it’s okay to quit sometimes, and that doesn’t make you a loser or a mediocre person, is just and opportunity to find whatever we need.


    PD. Sorry about my bad english, I’m from Mexico

  • Love this! I have a big dream that I keep all to myself but by doing something everyday I feel like I’m getting closer and closer instead of feeling like it will never happen! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Beautiful. It’s all good, but I really like the advice of mixing lofty and reasonable goals. I think that’s going to help a lot!

  • This was so encouraging! I love how it was so positive. We love your advice posts, Emma!

  • hello! This was a fantastic post, reminds me of the things i write in my blog! I would love to have a short informational interview about you two to share with the world and my readers!

  • Thanks Emma! That’s really encouraging. It has given me the determination to go aout and achieve my dreams. 🙂

    From Nadine

  • Thank you Emma! That’s so encouraging and has made me even more determined to get things done 🙂

    From Nadine

  • The thing about quitting is SO IMPORTANT and so totally overlooked. I think our society has this massive, perverse fear of EVER quitting, and so people stay in ridiculous, toxic, or other negative situations just because they don’t want to be seen as quitters. I have definitely been guilty of this myself in the past, staying on with things for faaaar too long simply because I couldn’t stand the idea of quitting. It is something that I am working on and something that I think needs to be talked about way more often!

    These are such awesome points, all of them, so thanks for sharing, Emma. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this Emma! Once again, I can count on A Beautiful Mess to help me help myself. Because of the encouragement from you and Elsie, last year I had the lofty goal of starting a blog, and I made it happen and I’m so glad I did. I’ve enjoyed it and continue to plug away, happy right now for small, doable goals, and more lofty ones in the future. It’s so true that just jumping in and getting your feet wet goes a long way in achieving success, even small ones, which can help one want to keep going. Love you guys!

  • I went to your site and your book sounds very interesting! Congratulations on your first novel btw 🙂

  • I really needed this today – thank you! as a recent college graduate I constantly feel like I’m not successful enough, however I need to keep remembering that success looks different to everyone.


  • So inspiring and encouraging Emma! Couldn’t have read this at a better time, thanks!


  • Thank you so much for sharing this. At this point in my life, it’s encouragement like this that really pushes me. Reading posts like this definitely fuels inspiration and makes me want to work that much harder. I’ll be looking forward to more posts like these (and your other posts too!)!

    With Love,

  • Inspiring, as usual. The authenticity is what makes your site worth visiting. Being personal and honest is worth the few mistakes that come with it. Thanks for this.

  • Emma, I think you are so smart, so talented and so honest.

    I’ve had to do the “letting a dream die” thing with acting, but I always just told myself it was a chance to reinvent myself — just like slapping a new coat of paint on something, I was giving myself a chance to change to whatever I wanted to be!

    I am proud of you and happy for you and ABM 🙂

  • What an interesting post, I really enjoyed reading this. It’s true that success is so dependant on what you want out of life, but I find deciding that even harder!!!! So, any tips you have that would be great Emma! 🙂

  • This is such great advice! It is definitely what I needed to read. I have been working on my vision of a women’s running website for months now and I constantly have to fight back the self doubt. You always have those good days when you’re really confident in what you’re doing, and then there are the days you wonder “What the heck am I doing?” I constantly have to remind myself that every success starts somewhere, and I just have to keep believing in what I’m doing and doing what I believe in!

  • Such an inspiring post 🙂


  • Thankyou for this. I have finally found something that I am passionate about. Well I always have been passionate about anything food related but after raising two girls and having reached a time in my life where I feel unwanted I took the plunge and started my own blog and then took a bigger plunge and video taped me cooking along with my daughter. I love it! This year has been a hard one emotionally, probably one of my worst years but the blogging and taping has kept me grounded and it has given me something to look forward to.

    You are inspiring and even though I am much older than you I feel that I to can make a success out of doing what I love. Having always told my girls to do what they love when they venture out into the working world I too will have to practice what I have preached!

  • WOW! This was all I needed to hear to fire some spark in me today. You are beyonddddddddddd RIGHT! Thank you for you’re inspiring words. xoxo

  • Seriously needed this post yesterday! I’ve been doing a mini blog series called Creative Flashback and I almost scraped an entire post because of its imperfections. Reading this reminded me what the series was really about and why I started it in the first place. It went up today and I am glad, so thank you 🙂

  • Couldn’t agree more than to start with positivity! It’s a game changer…thanks for sharing!
    charity over at www.lifeafterbaseball.net

  • What a great post – and great timing, certainly for me anyway so thank you for posting it. I think I’m quite good at setting goals, lofty and realistic but I beat myself up if I’m not achieving them quickly enough and reading this brought me back to calm realisation that slowly and authentically is better than quickly and rushed/haphazard!

  • i loved it, and also the one about pursuing your dream as an actress (i hadn’t read it yet). just loved them. thank you for so much honesty and authenticity, it is really inspiring

  • Thanks Emma, for this great post❤ It really makes me feel better and more confident to set new goals.



  • I love it when you girls talk about the challenges behind the business. This was inspiring, thank you!

  • I’ve learned to appreciate failing at things so much since going to art school. Skills don’t just come naturally, you have to work at things; persistence is the hardest part! This was a great little article. I would love to read more stuff like this from you guys!

  • Thank you so much for this. I’m about to go through an elbow-grease-heavy season with my small business, and it’s so easy to get daunted and discouraged. This post helps put things in perspective!

  • The “Don’t wait for perfection” is exactly what I am struggling with from post to post… There won’t be more time or more confidence “next month”, you just need to sit down and complete it. So straight to the point, reminds me once again that no one besides me can see the “imperfection”, these are all fears only in my head.
    Thanks a lot for the great article, once again!

  • Setting lofty goals definitely makes for great success. It gives you something to work towards and encourages you to do just that – work. Great post and tips!

  • Such a wonderful and beautiful article!!! Thank you Emma, i’m in love with this blog and I witnessed all the growth 🙂 I’m from Lima, Perú and i’m looking forward to move by myself just to decorate my home with all of your ideas and proyects hahaha i looooove doing handmade stuffs. Thank you guys for sharing <3

  • Very well written! I am glad this came up on my bloglovin feed today because I needed to read some kind and positive words after a tough day at work. Thanks for the post 🙂

  • I have been a reader of your blog for a little while now. and, I loved this post. I could not agree more with everything. I myself accomplished a lot of things riding on positivity alone, this is a wonderful and powerful force.

  • Love the style of your blog and I totally agree with this post especially #4.

  • love love love your outlook here! and as someone who has had successful business times, and unsuccessful business times and everything in between, as hokey as it sounds, friends and family and a good relationship with yourself is really what makes every day awesome! it’s easy to look at everyone else’s successes (i think i do this daily) and to tell yourself, oh i’ll be happy when i make xyz happen… positivity and happiness are choices we can have from almost anywhere in life.

  • Dear Emma,

    you give me chills, all of that is so powerful… thank you 🙂

  • I absolutely loved this article; the wording was perfect. Thanks so much for the reminders!

  • Bookmarked this page AND made sreenshots of the highlights that resonated the most with me. Such an inspirationnal, kind and luminous text. I am truly grateful. You take good care of us 🙂

  • Emma,
    that post was inspiring, brilliant and just what I wanted to read! As a creative lady with big dreams, it’s great to hear success stories! It motivates me to move forward and feel like “hey it can happen!” Thanks for the inspiration and good vibes!

  • I absolutely love this post. I’m guilty of waiting for the perfect moment to go after my dreams. You’re totally right when you say that the best time to start is right now. If you’re waiting for the right time when all the conditions are perfect to do something, you’ll never do it. Thanks for inspiring words!

  • I love this post. I am thankful for this post. Brilliantly written, and timely read. I had a lesson today (in high school band) that didn’t go well because it seemed the students thought my idea was “stupid” or “pointless”. Even though they are teenagers, it still hurt because I work in a field that I am passionate about. But my colleague and great friend came in, sat down on the floor with us and helped sing the song I was teaching, and it was so healing to me to know that my idea was worth trying. I sometimes forget that part when my plan doesn’t go perfectly.

    Also, I used to be so afraid of being deemed a “quitter” until I saw one of the most brilliant clarinet players I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing quit in order to devote herself to teaching underprivileged children in New York City. I saw that she wasn’t a quitter. She was COURAGEOUS! I see her happiness, and it is incredibly inspiring.

    Thank you for being such an example of positivity, courage, genuineness and beauty to all of us readers. I respect and admire you greatly and I’ve never even met you! (Although if you ever have a book signing or something in Dallas, I would LOVE to meet you and Elsie and your amazing team!)

  • Just what I needed to hear today, thanks for sharing from the heart Emma!
    It’s very much appreciated 🙂

    Please keep these kind of posts in the regular rotation 🙂

  • This is so inspiring, i should go set some goals( realistic+lofty ) right about now. You write so precisely, to the point..



  • I now have 2 goals on paper. Not that I did’t write them before but that’s all I did. This time I wrote them with encouragement. Thanks for this amazing post.

  • Wise advice. Thanks for sharing!
    The Accidental Mama

  • i LOVE you!!!

    i love that you count the typos in books because i do too!
    i havent kept record buuuut you just gave me an idea for my blog. (:
    i love finding them!
    it shows the realness.

    thanks for the pep talk.


  • Oofda! This post hit me straight in the conscious!! I have been batting around so many ideas for the last couple of months, but I’ve been terrified to try starting them (always saying I will start next month, just like you said!) I guess you could say I’m stuck in the planning phase! Haha I’m going to try and force my way out of this rut thanks to your post. Thank you so much!

  • Really great tips. I’m a big believer that anything is possible if you really want it. For me I find I have to just dive it headfirst. You can plan and plan forever but if you don’t take the plunge nothing will happen. So be organized but take that first step, which can often be the hardest. With starting my blog it took me some time to decide the direction that I wanted it to go in and design, etc…, but ultimately I knew I had to start to find out! Thanks for sharing,

  • this is really beautiful. as a new reader (and stalker-but-not-the-bad-kind) i really appreciated your link to “on changing dreams” because this is exactly where i am right now with my own ventures with ‘the new wifestyle’ as well as helping my husband grow his business.

    thanks for this and keep on rockin’ it!

  • This is brilliant! You talked about all the important points and I love how you went into so many details. I especially agree with number four; if you don’t start right this moment, then you’ll either miss your chance or someone will take it! x

    Lubna | ELLE VOX

  • Emma, This post is such a motivator! I have been wanting to start a few things lately and find myself continuously pushing them off for a “better time”. Recently I decided to start one of them, and while it’s nerve-wracking, it’s also really exciting! Starting one weirdly makes me want to start them all! So thank you for your words of wisdom, motivation, and positivity! This blog as been (for the last 4 years) and continues to be one of the most inspiring things in my life. I greatly thank all of you for that!

  • Great list! ‘Start Now’ is so important – we’re all guilty of procrastinating, but seizing the moment and getting closer to your goals is so important 🙂

  • Thank you for this amazing post! The best motivation ever!
    Glad to found your blog!
    xx, Marina / marinasirmais

  • Awesome post! I have to remember to make realistic goals because there’s so much I want to do right now.

  • Great tips. Thanks for sharing.


  • Great post, Emma! I love all your tips, especially the one about surrounding yourself with positive people. It’s so frustrating to be excited about an idea only to have someone bring you down with something negative.

    PS: I would LOVE to see a photo of your book-typo list! That’s hilarious and amazing and so inspiring in a weird way. Will you share it on Instagram?

  • Needed this kind of read as I prepare my applications for graduate school. Many thanks!

  • This was really encouraging. Thanks, Emma! I especially appreciated point #2, and loved what you said about not finding a book that was 100% typo free. This was what I needed to read this morning. xoxo

  • I’m graduating from my summer program at the end of the month and I really needed a post like this. I’m kind of stuck where I am, but I want to start my own successful life, so these tips were a great motivation 🙂

  • Could not agree with you more Mary-thank you for sharing this addition from where you are at in your life!


  • I like the idea of having a lofty goal but like you, realistic goals are important too. I think it’s so important to celebrate all the little victories along the way, no matter how small they are 🙂 Thanks for the advice!

  • this is what exactly what I needed to read today. thanks for writing, Emma 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing your insight! Number 4 really resonated with me. I have a few ideas for side projects that I haven’t been taking steps to make happen. I keep thinking I’ll have more time next week, but that turns into next month and so on. This really inspired me to sit down, make a plan of action and start taking those steps TODAY. Your positive outlook has that type of affect on people!


  • thank you so much for this. it came at just the right time.

    the best thing about ABM is that you guys always seem to be honest, open and genuine. thank you for always being yourselves and being willing to share so much with your readers!

  • Yes! So true that YOU define your own idea of success. Thanks for the encouragement.


  • True and honest words! As always, these posts always come at the right time. Thanks for sharing Emma!

  • The “start now” tip is hitting home with me. Thanks for the motivation!

    – Christina www.cityloveee.blogspot.com

  • thank you, thank you, thank you. this was the kick in the pants I needed on a sleepy tuesday. “My point is not to focus on flaws, but to know that flaws do not equal failure. Success is often imperfect.” And: “Quitters sometimes win big. Don’t be afraid to change course if it feels right.” Were EXACTLY what I needed to hear today.

  • This post really couldn’t have come at a better time! I have all of these big, lofty goals, most of which I am actively working on but I definitely suffer from the “I can accomplish way more tomorrow/this weekend/next week/month/etc”. You’re totally right when you say it’s THE absolute quickest way to get absolutely nothing accomplished. I’m a lousy procrastinator but I think that can mostly be attributed to wanting everything to be perfect before I let something so important to me be put out there into the universe for people to judge before I’m 100% happy with it (which I know is impossible). You guys are amazing as far as being so consistently creative and inspiring, it’s contagious. I don’t have anyone in my life or anyone that I even know of with anywhere near all of the goals that I wish to accomplish so it can be quite discouraging and uninspiring sometimes going it alone and navigating all of the unknowns. Thanks for everything you do! :o)

  • These posts are with all honesty, my absolute favorite. More than all of your great recipes and DIY’s, your inspirational posts are what keeps me coming back! 🙂

    Thanks so much,

    Laurali Star

  • I love this post, Emma! I also just re-read your post on Changing Dreams–Very inspiring. Thanks for the pick-me-up! 🙂

  • …and it’s never too late–when kids leave home, so many women my age don’t know how to define themselves! Perfect time to really get to know ourselves better and rediscover who we are! It may very well surprise them and YOU!
    Thanks so much for your insights! Mary www.mytributejournal.com

  • Hi Emma, thank you for sharing! I really love these type of post from you. I think it hits the spot for me today. I just started a blog 2 months ago, which I have wanted to start 3 years ago… But it was always like oh I don’t have time, maybe I’ll do it next month, next year, etc. Then comes the self-doubt stage, is it good enough, is it too boring, lame, it sucks anyways I should just quit… such haunting thoughts, but I’m going to stay positive 😉 it may not be perfect but I hope that it will bring joy to others the way it does to me. You guys are awesome here at ABM! Thank you!

  • Emma, ADORE this post, love it. Like I said in my comment on your ‘churros’ post, its been so inspirational, so motivational, to see you bloom from your earlier food blog to where you are now. Am going to pin this post and also print and file in my ‘kick up the butt’ section of my planning file (yes, I DO have one! – I turn to it when I’m feeling/being sub-par). Thank you. Helen
    PS. Had to laugh at your comments about typos in books – it’s a pet personal and professional peeve of mine, as I’m a book devourer and a freelance copy editor (with my own successful business) and I HATE to see typos! I always think ‘Come on, guys, you could have hired me and I’d have done a MUCH better job!’…there’s NO WAY I’d send work back to clients with errors in it, as that’s precisely what I’m paid to do – omit the errors!

  • Love this! Thank you for being so honest – especially about realistic goals and deadlines. You’re an inspiration!

    Warm Regards,

  • Great tips, especially acting now and making realistic goals. This is a nice inspirational posts. You should do more of these type of posts. I like reading inspirational things. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you, Emma! I really needed this today 🙂



  • Thank you Emma for this post. A previous post (On changing dreams) and this one made me feel human, related to the story and capable of achieving my goals in life (even though I change my mind like every two minutes about what those goals are). I am twenty-three, feel like I am doing absolutely nothing with my life, even though I KNOW that isn’t the case. This feeling of in-satisfaction I have most likely because I am not earning my money the way I would like. Photography. This goal is pretty recent. I have had it for a bit over a year now. I haven’t studied art or photography, don’t have a ton of equipment, but the I have basics and a big passion for the art and for life.
    As I said, I am twenty-three years young. I have lived in worked in four different countries, traveled to four continents and have already found the love of my life. Why do you think our professional life does have such a huge impact on our self-esteem? I thank you for sharing these words with us (I feel like you have written this for me especially) and I will let you know when I achieved my goals 🙂 If all goes well, three years from now my life will be so different!


  • I get elated when I see a post like this come up on your blog! I love learning from you guys and this is just what I needed to read today.

  • I love these types of posts! You guys are always so inspirational and I feel so good after reading your words 🙂 I also need to work on not waiting to do things and staying positive! 🙂


  • Such great advice, I really like it! In the Netherlands a great that equals a B is really good, so I think you’ve done very well :). I love this blog and the way you all turn your dreams into reality.

  • What a lovely and well written post Emma. Thank you for sharing. P.S. I believe in you 100% too!

  • Thank you so much for saying this: “Guess what? Since starting this experiment I haven’t read a single book that was 100% typo free. Many of these books were NYT bestsellers and/or written by famous authors with impressive bodies of work.” It’s like the universe needed me to hear this.

    I recently self-published my debut novel and I couldn’t afford a “professional editor” so I had to comb through my own work a handful of times before finally telling myself it was the best I could do and if it was going to be a success it would be, typos wouldn’t matter. But that didn’t stop me from fretting about whether there /were/ typos and if they would simply be an absolute turn-off for people. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed that. xx

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, Emma. I’ve struggled with negativity for 29 years and this post really helped a lot!

  • I couldn’t love this post more. I have just taken my third pistachio and lemon cake out the oven and I am so delighted. Why? Because it has taken me until now to figure out how to make this particular recipe gluten free! I was so upset when I first made it that I was so tempted to quit, but like you, I believe in achieving goals and made it my mission to problem solve my own issue – and it worked! 🙂

  • wow this totally got me pumped up for the day!! so needed this little reminder. <3

  • Such a great post and such beautiful pieces of advice. Thanks so much!


  • Great advice! Positive thinking is the best policy!


  • I absolutely love when you guys share inspiring articles like this one. Your blog is amazing (one of my absolute favourites) because you always inspire me creatively with your DIY, food, and fashion posts. I really respect the energy and creativity you all have, but I must say that these types of articles are the ones I really love reading because of your willingness to SHARE your successes with all of us. These words are incredibly insightful and inspirational. Thanks so much for encouraging me (and I’m sure many others) today!

  • Thanks for sharing, Emma!
    Your blog always inspires me, this time yet again.
    Love you guys!

    – Lily


  • Great tips! Some of my favorite posts are ones in which you guys offer advice, I can never get enough. Very inspiring, thank you Emma!


  • This is wonderful. I just started my own blog and an article like this is coming at the perfect time! Thanks for the encouragement and for creating a blog I love visiting for inspiration!

  • I just love you guys. This is so encouraging and motivational! Keep being awesome 🙂

  • This is so great and could not have come at a better/more appropriate time! Thanks for your wise words and inspiration 🙂


  • Love everything about this. This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Keep on keepin’ on, Emma!


  • We always need some help and these tips are amazing 🙂
    Thanks for sharing

    xx Cecil


  • great post! i am glad i am not alone in looking for typos in books. haha. i find one in almost every book i read and it amazes me every time. 😉

  • I needed to read this today! I keep beating myself up because I feel like a quitter & a failure lately. I know deep down I’m on the way to better things down the road, but it’s hard to deal with the negative feelings right now. Thanks for being here to lift us up!

  • So good!
    I think the best for me was start now… I’m so guilty of planning so many big things for tomorrow that never happen. Maybe I’ll start to think about actually making things happen a bit more now.

  • Thanks for sharing Emma! Love how you open up and are vulnerable. It encouraged me to set lofty goals and start making plans to accomplish them now! Thanks

  • Preach girl! Thanks for this. Sometimes people (uhh me) think they have to do something because they said it, but you know what? I only have to do what I want to do. I can change my mind, quit, and do something else if I so please. And I’ll go right out there and get it! Power to you, power to me, power to us homegirl.

  • Emma, this was such an authentic and inspiring post. I really needed to hear this, especially today. Thanks! xo. Jen

  • Great post Emma, you and Elsie are positive an inspirational girls! Thank you girls!


  • Thank you so much for sharing this. This is exactly what I needed right now.
    Pretty Lovely

  • OMG Emma, this post has me totally buzzing!
    It’s no wonder you are by far my fave blog. Not only is the ABM team creative, fun and gorgeous…you guys are so inspiring,motivating, positive and supportive to your readers.
    Thank you for caring about us so much to post something like this.
    I idolize your team and company so much,not just for your gifts in creativity, but for your success as well. information coming from you is very valuable to me and I appreciate it being shared.
    I kinda wanna leave work early today and take over the world instead 🙂

  • this is such a great, inspirational post! so many things I desperately needed to see.

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  • Thanks Emma! I’m going through so many big changes right now in life and can never have too many reminders to stay positive. Moving to a new city, trying to find a new job, buying a new home, worrying about friends and family and money… All that to say I’m grateful for your words of encouragement! I’m inspired to put fear and negativity to rest and allow myself to have faith, trust myself, and make new goals to find my success. XOXO!

  • You rock Emma! I love these posts and always find them so inspiring. Just what I needed today!

  • I want to thank you for sharing this. Reading this post lifted some weight off my shoulders. I’ve always been a creator, but find it hard to not strive for perfection all the time, and to find the courage to fail and to not compare myself to others, it’s difficult. Reading this helps, to keep dreaming big and just go out there and START!

  • What a wonderful article! I’m taking some big steps and some major changes in my life, and all of this I completely needed to hear. I think I’ll probably be reading this everyday for the next week! Thank you, Emma.

  • Great tips, Emma!Yes, being positive in negative circumstances never hurts!

  • Hello Emma&Elsie my name is Beatriz and i am from Mallorca a little island in Spain i just want to say thank you for inspire me and make me happy every time i open your beautiful mess blog life congratulations girls
    all my love
    Beatriz xxxxx

  • positivity is definitely a key to success, from personal experience having a positive mindset = positive results!

    amelia from wonder reads

  • This is one of the best motivational post I’ve ever read. Thank you for encouraging us all to be better and make our dreams a reality 🙂

  • i think setting lofty goals is such a good exercise. there is so much power in verbalizing what you want.

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