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Excerpted from Live the Life You Love by Barbara Sher. Copyright © 1996 by Barbara Sher. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"If I was such a failure, how had I managed to finish school and hold jobs and raise kids?"

Barbara Sher, Live the Life You Love, Part 3

I say this now almost proudly, but back then I was certain that I was doomed to failure. I'd watch those TV commercials that show people with perfect bodies happily exercising on machines, and I'd listen to the promises that I could look perfect too if I'd only buy that machine and use it. But I didn't fall for the ads because I had tried a dozen times to exercise and by now I knew persistence wasn't my long suit. I'd lose motivation, or I'd get lonely; I was often in a lousy mood, I'd look for a million things to do besides exercise. Maybe someone out there could follow the instructions they give but not me. I knew myself too well to even try.

Anyway, maybe what I loved wasn't so important after all. Maybe my dreams wouldn't really make me happy. Maybe this feeling that I'm special and that my dreams should matter was foolish, even neurotic. Maybe dreams are just that--dreams and nothing more.

So I sighed and decided to give up. Obviously, I didn't have the right stuff in me. If I couldn't even stick with exercise, what was the point in trying for anything really big? When you don't have what it takes, you just settle for less.

Oh, was I wrong. It takes my breath away to think about how close I came to closing the door on all my cherished dreams. But one day a question lodged itself in my mind and refused to go away.

If I was such a failure, how had I managed to finish school and hold jobs and raise kids? Those were all hard to do. They required continued persistence over many years! And I had done them! How? Not with positive thinking or believing in myself, or improving my attitude one bit, that's for sure. I must have accomplished those feats some other way.

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