How to Succeed in Life Without Really Trying

All right, so that title is probably a tad misleading. But how many of you thought, “Really? Great! Sign me up!” I did, and I wrote it. Recently, success has been on my mind. Not so much the I’m-going-to-strike-it-rich-quick variety, but the how-can-I-feel-most-fulfilled-in-the-life-I-am-leading sort. As a single mom, building a private practice in psychotherapy (during a national recession, no less, when therapy is generally viewed as a luxury), financial concerns are, best-case scenario, hovering in the back of mind, and, worst-case, screaming in my ears. It’s a situation to which I’m sure many of you can relate.

However, having experienced my fair share of adversity, having made maybe more than my fair share of mistakes, I am now at a point where success means something much more to me than simple financial security (though I would, by no means, turn up my nose to such a blessing). I want to fully understand what I am most passionate about and spend a decent amount of my time engaging in it. This is something I’ve actually been thinking about in earnest since last Christmas.

I was sitting in the back of the church where my father is a pastor, listening to my beautiful friend, Chris, sing. Now, if you have ever had the good fortune to hear this woman sing, you know what a spiritual experience it can be. I don’t remember the song, but I remember being moved to tears. Then a thought hit me, “What if Chris never shared her gift?” Like, she was paralyzed by stage fright or listened to a little voice in her head that told her she wasn’t good enough to sing in front of an entire church. We would all be missing out on an incredible blessing.

Singing is one of her God-given gifts and she honored that by sharing it. Then I realized that we all have God-given gifts, natural passions that connect us to our true selves, part of our core identity, but I would venture to say that a good majority of us never realize what it is or choose to share it with the world. And the world is poorer for it.

Conversely, what if we all took a little time (OK, probably more than a little time) for introspection and allowed ourselves to dream about that passion that stirs deep down every now and then? And then, what if we actually did something about it? Acted on it in some way – big or small – to share it with others? My guess is that a world full of people discovering their passions and sharing them with each other would be revolutionary.

And because you are already love this thing, you don’t really have to try – it naturally flows out of you. I also know that acting in line with your true self positions you to succeed – to come into that place where the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. So, in this way, you truly can succeed without really trying. Challenge yourself to head down this path and be open to loving where you end up.

About the Author

Meredith Watkins, M.A., MFT A CA-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with years of experience specializing in individual therapy, Christian therapy, parenting, relationship, and women’s issues, Meredith currently has a private practice in Carlsbad, CA. Ultimately, her desire is to help her clients manage their own feelings and issues more effectively, creating space for joy and fulfilment in their relationships and lives. Learn more at

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Kathryn Ball

Hello Ms. Watkins. I was a patient of Bob’s back in the ’70s. the year he discontinued private practice and worked for Century Computer Marketing until ’93. Was in therapy for 15 years but ran out of money. One thing missing was I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Now, at 62 and after 3 strokes from which I am recovering, I figured it out. It is funny. I feel more self connected and confident even if I have no training or skill at this profession. I don’t even have to be any good at it, though I am re-entering college to gain those skills. I am more myself than I have ever been and don’t always turn to others for validation. Good luck in your self searching. Happiness comes at strange times in strange ways,

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