Raise your set point

Sage CohenProductive writing2 Comments

How would you act if you were sure you deserved the writing life you want?

I ask this question in a chapter titled “You’re Worth It” in Fierce on the Page, my latest book from Writer’s Digest Books. In it, I propose that if you don’t think you deserve success, it doesn’t matter how many great productivity strategies you’ve tried. It doesn’t matter how many followers or likes or subscribers you have. It doesn’t matter how many publication notches you have on your belt—or how celebrated you are.

In fact, I believe that your worthiness story could be the undiagnosed roadblock between you and everything you want most. And I am inviting you to bust through to the other side. Here comes my best idea for doing so—one not covered in Fierce on the Page.

Psychologists say smiling makes you happier. And I believe raising your set point is a similar practice, through which we can elevate our own sense of worth. What I mean by raising your set point is breaking through your own glass ceiling of what you think you’re allowed to have, accomplish, ask for, or succeed at—by trying things that seem out of reach, without attachment to outcome.

A few examples of ways I raise my set point are: submitting to my dream publications, raising my rate with clients, asking for help (and even for acknowledgement) when it makes me cringe to do so, and most recently, requesting blurbs for Fierce on the Page from my literary heroes.

When I flex these muscles of reaching higher than I’m comfortable reaching, I gain strength and flexibility. I gain courage and faith in myself as a person willing to risk and fail. And sometimes, I even succeed at whatever I’ve attempted.

For example, when requesting blurbs, I focused entirely on how great it felt to reach out to beloved authors, tell them what their work meant to me, and make my Big Ask. When several of the authors said no, as I expected they would, I celebrated that they’d taken the time to write me back. And when Lynne Twist, Paulann Petersen, Lyanda Haupt, and Shanna Germain agreed to blurb my book, their confidence in my work fortified my own.

One of my favorite strategies for raising my set point for many years was: Pretend I am Pam—a dear friend and colleague who I found all-around more worthy than I was. I’d pitch clients and speak at conferences and negotiate contracts while channeling this Pam-ified version of myself—until eventually, I’d raised my set point high enough that I didn’t need that layer of disguise.

You may not realize that you’re scrunched down under your own limited sense of worth until you stretch a little higher out of that comfort zone. The more you stretch, the more comfortable you’ll get with your elevated vista point.

I’m not proposing that this guarantees you’ll accomplish everything—or even anything—you’re reaching for. But I am certain that the risks you take become far more valuable when you regard them as investments in your own confidence and self-regard.

The set point is in your hands. You get to decide how high you are willing to grow.


If you’d like to experiment with raising your set point in my company, I’ll be teaching at some fantastic events in Eugene, OR, Los Angeles, CA, and Salem, OR in the coming months. You can learn more here. I’m also very excited to be launching the Fierce on the Page Reading Series in Portland, OR in September! Each month, I’ll feature three writers from a range of disciplines and genres who share their work and then discuss what it means to be fierce on the page. Stevan Allred, Kristin Berger, and Nikki Schulak will be rocking the podium at our inaugural event on September 28. Can’t wait to see you in person!

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