share post

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}

by | Mar 10, 2016 | Authentic Living, blogging, Decorating Inspiration

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy here

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}
 Queensland Homes  – Bayden Goddard, BGD Architects

Photos Inspired By: A Modern Coastal Island Style

I had a crisis a few months ago. I’m over it now, but don’t worry. It’s not the sort of crisis where you are admitted to the ER or need to be talked off a precipice. But rather, the sort of crisis where you suddenly realize once again, you are feeling in over your head for whatever reason. Perhaps you are trying or starting something new and scary, or perhaps you are decorating a new-to-you house. Decorating can be scary, right? You have to find your own way and might even fear you have to make all the right decisions if you are going to succeed.

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}Studio McGee

I’m no stranger to these sorts of crisis moments. Yes, I’ve moved to quite a few styles of homes so I’ve had to find my own way in new places often. But even outside of home decor, back in the day (when I first started blogging in the darker quieter ages of blogdom) I had a blog style crisis. As far as I could tell, there were basically three kinds of bloggers in the home blog world in 2007. There seemed to be creative bloggers, homemaking bloggers and design bloggers.

Now, likely there were more types of bloggers, or maybe they weren’t quite as defined as I thought. Perhaps I was all wrong and clueless (likely), but that is just what I perceived as a newbie to this strange new world of “BLOGS.” I assumed everyone else knew what they were doing and they were all doing it the right way within the boundaries of those labels.

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}
Blackband Home & Design

Since (in my typical indecisive form) I couldn’t decide which type of blogger I was or should be, I just made up what I was going to be and do. I just did what I loved and felt like doing. I made it all up in my mind. That’s scary, but it’s reality. I didn’t have a clue what the correct way was to blog, so I just DID whatever I could. Sometimes I was a homemaking blog, some days I guess I was more of a design blog, but every now and then I was just feeling creative so I dabbled in a few rare and embarrassing crafty moments. Basically, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT. I still don’t. That may be pretty obvious by now, ha, but still, for better or worse, I kept going.

I could go on here and explain all the times and ways over the years I have had no idea what I was doing, but suffice it to say, it’s an awkward amount of times. Was I confident in everything I did in the past? No. Am I confident in everything I do now? Nope.

So why am I bringing this up now? (i.e. Do I need therapy?) 

Maybe, but not really. I’m fine! Really, I just hope it will encourage you to know a little secret I’ve learned. The truth is, I’m not the only one who wings it. Maybe I do it more than some folks, but the truth is NO ONE who is creating something totally unique or brand new to them knows what they are doing at all times. Most people are just winging it until it comes together in a satisfactory way (or it becomes obvious that it is time to try something new, ha).

They aren’t necessarily faking it, they might be, but sometimes that’s what you do when you have no clue what to do but you have to do something. It should be called experimenting with confidence. Even if people might look like they have it all together and are confident in who they are and what they do, inside they often feel like they are just making a lot of it up as they go.

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}via Historial Concepts Architecture & Southern Living

People who try new things can learn from their mistakes and what they’ve done successfully in the past. And those mistakes and successes will definitely shape what people know to do in the future. But when they were making the mistakes and heading towards those first time successes, most of the time they didn’t actually KNOW in advance what would work and what wouldn’t. They just kept trying. They might have good instincts, a good eye or good training. Those things are helpful. But perseverance is often a big part of success.

Everyone can assess what has worked for them in the past (or what they have learned or believe to be true about the current situation), but to truly feel pretty confident about what will work NOW, you either have to have done that exact thing before under the same exact circumstances, or what you do will involve floundering a bit through trial and error. New things are just that…new.

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}House Beautiful

Every time I’m faced with a new room to decorate, a new house to figure out, a new post, a new challenge, a new budget, a new book to write, a new look to create, a new opportunity, a new idea, another teen to parent :), whatever it is that I have to put my heart into on any given day, it feels like a huge RISK.

I worry that I could totally embarrass myself or fail or stress out if I don’t know everything I need to know in order to succeed. I can start to fear that maybe I’m a fraud. Ha. Not really, but more like I might be a little bit in over my head, until I talk myself down off the ledge and remind myself of the things I already know.

10 Things I Know for Sure

  1. A brave no is just as powerful for success as a timid yes.
  2. I don’t have to do something expected (which eliminates the guesswork and fear about what exactly IS expected!).
  3. I don’t have to worry, unless I am making the type of mistakes that are fatal.
  4. I can seek advice from others and learn from smarter people, I am not alone.
  5. I have already learned important lessons that I can apply to any situation.
  6. I will grow from constructive criticism, but other people’s critical spirits won’t define me or my failures.
  7. There are always people who are better at what I do, but there is only one person who can be me.
  8. What I have to do, want to do, or feel called to do, is worthy of pursuing, even if I can’t do it perfectly.
  9. I can confidently do my own thing in my own way, even if it is through trial and error.
  10. I’ll love the result, be proud of my effort, or at least learn from my mistakes so I can improve going forward.

That’s it. Those ten truths are really what we need to hold on to when we are venturing off into new territory or afraid we might fail.

If you are willing to try something new, you’ll end up a little bit wiser or a little bit braver, or both. 


True Confession: This started out as a post I was going to call Inspired By: A Modern Coastal Island Style (whatever that style is, I might have just made it up). But somewhere along the way, I got inspired in a different way and starting writing a totally different post. Was it about blogging? Decorating Style? Book writing? Trying new things? Success in business? All of the above? See? I have no idea. Awkward, right?

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}
Historical Concepts – Coastal Living Idea House

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}

Related Posts:

Secrets to Success and Longevity in Blogging

My Decorating and Homemaking Books

A Little-Known Secret of Success {10 Things I Know}


  1. Carmen Gomez (Lilly)

    Thank you for this, sometimes I can feel alone in this feeling, I forget that there are so many others out there like me, we just need to encourage each other and learn from each other. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing sometimes but I know why, I know it’s because I want to and it makes me feel good and I think in the end that’s all that matters. Do whatever makes you happy, learn as you go but never give up on something that makes you feel happy and accomplished.

  2. Gina

    THANKS! Sending this list to my daughter…good tips for a new job, too!

  3. Bettye

    I needed to hear this! I live in the Washington DC area where I am surrounded by very accomplished professional women. I tend to feel awkward explaining to them that my blog is about “crafts, decorating, gardening, you know, hobbies”. I worry that my blog sounds frivolous and shallow to those who work on serious issues like homelessness and aging, etc. I am printing your 10 tips for those times when I question myself.

  4. Denise

    Thanks for this! Just what I needed to hear today. It’s hard to step out and try something that you have no idea how to do but, yes, sometimes you just have to do “something”.

  5. Jo Jo

    Such an inspiring, real post. Thank you for putting into words what many, if not all of us feel or have felt at one time or another. ❤️ Love the photos. Dare I assume or suspect you are tinkering around with going more coastal inspired in your new home and perhaps using some coral ( you mentioned in another post you love that color, but never used it in your home before) in your decorating this time? I love that color too! Reminds me of the inside of seashells and the Caribbean. ?

  6. Kate Tyler

    Oh my Melissa, your post came at just the right time! I’ve been so back and forth for such a long time trying to learn, learn, learn before I put pen to paper and really start my blog. It has been such a struggle even though I actually have the blog all set up and ready to go. I guess I’m afraid of making a mistake, or maybe it’s just the overwhelming feeling of possible failure that keeps me from really making the total commitment of writing. It seems like the more I try and learn about blogging and running it as a business, the more I feel overwhelmed. After reading your blog for so many years, I felt that it seemed like I could just be like you…easy breezy! But I’m old enough to know that it is really work for you at the same time. I fantasized that it would be all fun sharing what I know about decorating and helping others to find their flair.My dream is to do that while at the same time running a profitable business by selling wonderful products or maybe creating my own. Maybe in time I could even write a book. It is reassuring to realize once again that everyone has to just START and roll with the process. Thank you for sharing your process!

    • Jenn @ Loveland Lodge

      Hi Kate! As a newbie blogger, I had your same fears – all I can say is go for it! The hardest part is pushing “publish” on that first post. I too get overwhelmed with all the information on blogging out there (and my full-time job is in marketing/PR!). For me, I’ve found it’s best to focus on a few areas vs. trying to do it all. Good luck and can’t wait to read your blog!

  7. Alison Werdann

    Thank you for an honest, real post! Home décor and authentic living are things I absolutely enjoy reading about on your blog (that’s why I’m here!), but ultimately…what attracts me to your blogging style over many other home bloggers…is just that: authenticity. I could care less if my home looks immaculately designed…if none of the items included have any history or story about my family’s life. I get extremely bored reading blogs that just show one beautiful picture after another…with no depth past that point. That takes the fun out of home making for me, at least. You aim to show how to utilize what each and every one of us has–our unique “secret sauce” (haha!!)–and feel inspired to use it however we like in our homes! No rules. No judgment. Especially no self-judgment. How liberating is it to those of us who love our homes, to use our own personal creative stamp and have free reign to know it’s “okay” to do what we like…trial and error, yes. Anyway, I could go on and on–but I won’t do that–I just wanted to let you know that you writing something vulnerable (that’s the word I’m looking for) like this is exactly what draws the creative/honest/authentic people to your blog/your writing/your books. Keep going and don’t ever worry about what anyone else thinks or says about what you do or how you do it. <3

  8. April Hoff

    Fabulous post today…I’m starting my Thursday on a positive and inspired note. Thank you.

  9. Kryste

    What a wonderful post and a great perspective! You are so right!! Perseverance is key–I often feel like I”m in over my head or that I don’t know what I’m doing, especially with my blog, but I just keep on plugging away, confident that whatever is supposed to come from this experience will come. It helps to know others have (or still are) experiencing the same thing!

  10. Kim

    I love this post. Thank you!

  11. Corinne Fudge

    Oooh, these are delish! On the last photo, is that a sliding door – the one with the column of coloured circles? Looks awesome x

  12. Judie Van

    Oh my, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve had that feeling………it usually comes after the planning,excitement & enthusiasm of starting a new project. That “what am I doing?” feeling, or “should I really do this?” The only thing I’ve ever regretted is not doing more or being bolder in my choices so it’s nice to know others have gone through this. At this point , I’d just say Go For It!…….

  13. Trish

    Love this post!! It’s my birthday, and I always record the messages that resonate with me on that day so I can review and celebrate their wisdom later… Your’s is going to be at the top of 2016’s list! Thanks for sharing so authentically <3

  14. Mary Alvarez

    Oh Melissa Girl you have totally hit on the head exactly how I have been feeling lately. I truly appreciate your in-site. I can’t count how many times a day I don’t stop and ask my self “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” or “ARE YOU SURE YOU SHOULD BE DOING THIS?” Questioning myself seems to be my norm! Sigh! And your right it is wise to ask and learn and take it all in. Then reevaluate and reprocess and try again. So like me my Blog is every evolving…I thank you for being a pioneer in leading the way for neebies like me.

  15. Kelly

    I have never been more inspired reading your blog than I am today. Thank you for your humility and your courage to share so openly from your heart. Most importantly, this post has me getting into action in the areas where I’ve been stopped by my own fear and doubt! Thank YOU! I am now free to express! What a gift!

  16. Melanie

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been thinking and praying about trying something I have never done, have no training in, but think I will enjoy. This post has given me the inspiration and confidence to give it a try. By the way, I LOVE your blog! Keep being you!!

  17. Zannah

    Thank you for your thoughts. I completely identify with what you write, and I love your ten rules. Good things to remember when we’re feeling less than confident and unsure of our way. Much appreciated!

  18. Christine Daudelin

    So how did you know this was EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning?! Facing down the scary new right now and your words spoke right to my heart! Love your blog and how you share of who you are. So grateful for your words

  19. Catherine

    This is one of the many reasons I love your blog! You are so honest and real. It gives readers such encouragement to try and, to know, that the attempt is well worth it–even if the outcome is less than perfect. I look forward to reading your posts always.

  20. Dr.Amrita Basu

    Very nicely written.Actually I think I missed these nuggets of wisdom from your posts.
    Sometimes your guest posts by other authors are more about house decor and stylung rather than about making it a home.
    I think you are great at what you do here ..
    you have taught all of us to love the home we have..seriously. Thank you keep writing from your heart .Your insight about the challenges facing a new /old blogger entrepreneur is exactly what I am facing everyday.

  21. Christie

    Thank you for the heartfelt post. You write with genuine humility and grace, without any false “humble-brag.”

  22. Julie

    I love the way you think and totally appreciate this post especially as I am starting a business, should say I am joining an established pop up vintage store, I’m super excited but do I feel adequate, qualified–nope but I do feel blessed beyond words that I was asked–you bet I do! Thank you for this post, I certainly enjoy your books and wisdom! Keep it coming?

  23. Marla

    Melissa, for some reason the apostle, Paul, comes to mind, as in, ‘forgetting the past, straining forward to new things ahead’…talk about new, wiser, and braver! Your post is uniquely you, Melissa, and nothing you do is a mistake but rather a step in the process of life. And those steps are what get us to our destination.!:) Keep steppin’ girlfriend…

  24. Linda Stoll


    The more real we are in our writing, our homekeeping, our relationships, our faith, the more comfortable we’ll be in our own skin … and be able to put something of substance on the table that matters.

    Love this post!

  25. ann

    This post is exactly why I love your blog and your message. So real and heartfelt. One of my favorite posts.

  26. Deanna Rabe

    Love this so much! It’s great affirmation for me!

  27. Kristin

    Melissa how did you get in my head today?
    With a toddler and a new business, I want to get more projects done but just feel tired at the end of each day. Thanks for the perspective.

  28. Lois

    Oh my goodness! Never thought I’d be commenting on your site. I’m not a decorator at all, just love looking at your gorgeous rooms. But I just started a new career this week and am feeling a little terrified of the the steep learning curve. I’ve been giving myself daily pep talks. Love all that you said. Glad that your original idea took you in a different direction. Really needed to hear those words.

  29. Kim

    Hi Melissa, thank you for this post!! This is the first time I’ve visited your blog and this was the first post I’ve read which is amazing – this is exactly how I feel about my blog – which is about to be launched. I feel like I’ve been given a confirmation to just do what you love and it’ll all come together (somehow!) as I have been feeling exactly how you have described.
    Thank you! I will be a regular visitor from now on.

  30. Joanne Taggart

    Oh Melissa, wonderfully put! Thank you for this post. How did you know? So honest, insightful and welcoming. I agree with Lois in her earlier post. I needed to hear these words. In the work I do every day I’ve got to be creative and productive, sometimes in mass quantities, and it’s downright scary and tiring and I keep on winging it. And somehow, most days, it works. And what a great feeling. And thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments. I commented the other day on your ideas for your fireplace, and the whole time I was writing, I was feeling I shouldn’t be saying anything. I mean, what do I know? Your work is beautiful and I appreciate your talent and creativity. It is so inspiring to meet other women who, in putting themselves out there, help those of us who are hungry for ideas and honest communication. Have another wonderful day winging it and keep on keepin on!

  31. De

    Funny this should pop up today.
    As I was out walking with my friend this morning, our talk went through the same type of process.
    The beauty of us as an individual should be celebrated more.
    We are so hard on ourselves. We need to find peace in knowing we are doing our own best at what ever we do. My best might be different from your best…and so on! Thank you for taking the time to remind us that we need to empower ourselves. Blessings to you!

  32. Smithu Grace

    Inspiring message, thank you!

  33. Kristina

    “Experimenting with confidence,” she says. Oh, man, does that ever nail it. We should all apply a little more confidence to all of our follies.

  34. Stephanie Brainard

    Thanks for this Melissa! Struggling to fight perfectionism while planning my first garden at this new house. After reading I am encouraged to just do it, even if I don’t have all the answers initially. It is worth it :).

  35. Miriam

    Wow, I so love your blog, the way your thought meander on the page are amazing. I also agree with lol you said and needed them put n an order to think over. Thanks!

  36. dawn@joyfulscribblings

    Thanks for sharing your journey and experiences. I had saved this post to come back and read later and it’s exactly what I need to read today! I just love how that happens!

  37. Karen

    I know I’m late to the party here, but what a fantastic post! Your 10 things can easily be daily affirmations! How amazing!

browse categories:

browse archives:

let’s stay connected!

Follow for daily
Home Inspiration:

get my free decorating guide

home decor inspiration, free downloads,
and more, straight to your inbox