Conquer Roadblocks Like Suzanne Somers

Do you remember Three's Company? From 1977-1982, it was one of the highest-rated shows on television and launched Suzanne Somers's career.

But did you know that Somers was fired from the show in 1982 because she asked for more money?

That was the first of many roadblocks she overcame over the next 30 years.

She battled cancer once and a misdiagnosis another time. She reinvented herself after failed sitcoms and talk shows. She changed direction after harsh reviews and low ticket sales cancelled her one-woman Broadway show after only a week.

Through it all, she's written 20 books, including 11 New York Times bestsellers. She was the spokesperson for the ThighMaster, one of the products that launched the infomercial industry. Today, she's still reinventing herself at age 65 with a new show on the Lifetime channel.

Steve Roller here, back for day two of The Writer's Life. I bring up Suzanne Somers because her story fits in well with our theme this week: overcoming challenges, getting out of ruts, and finishing strong.

Today, we're going to explore what happens when you go down the wrong path and hit a roadblock.

What if it's harder to break into your niche than you thought? What if a client fires you? What if you experience a health crisis, an emotional trauma, or the death of a loved one? What if your mountain of debt is preventing you from thinking clearly?

At some point, you might hit a wall with your writing business.

Whatever challenges you face, there are five principles from the life of Suzanne Somers you can use to conquer roadblocks and bounce back:

  1. Turn negatives into positives. When she got fired from Three's Company, Somers found it hard to get work in Hollywood for a while. So she went to Las Vegas to do a nightclub act. Since she had a lot of free time, she started writing every day. Her scribbled hotel notes turned into her bestselling autobiography, Keeping Secrets.

    When she turned 40, she did it again. She turned the negative of gaining weight into a positive: her wildly popular "Somersize" exercise and diet program.

  2. Reinvent yourself whenever necessary. Somers has done it numerous times in her life. "When you hit a wall," she says, "you don't say 'poor me,' you say, 'okay, we've maxed out here,' and go in another direction. It's been an incredible template in my business."
  3. Find the right niche for you. Don't try to be someone you're not. Live in alignment to your "brand." For Somers, alternative health has been a central theme for 30 years.
  4. Write for yourself. Whenever you're not writing for a client, write something every day. Before she made it big, Somers wrote a book of poetry. When Johnny Carson discovered her, he took such a liking to her that he booked her on his show once a month, and she always read a poem to him. Of all the things she's done in her career, she says, "Writing is my greatest passion."
  5. Don't be afraid to start small. Somers was originally going to be a chef, but she got a call for a bit part in a George Lucas film called American Graffiti. She earned a whopping $136.72 for her work, but it was a pivotal point in her career. Soon after, she was making regular appearances on The Tonight Show, where producers for Three's Company found her.

Take a cue from Suzanne Somers and embrace the idea that your negatives can turn into positives. Accept the fact that reinvention is part of the deal.

Are you unsure if you need a slight adjustment or a whole new direction? Feeling stuck in any way? If you don't mind sharing here, ask me your most pressing question, or connect with me privately if it's more personal. I'll do whatever I can to help.

Then read my article "Cleansing and Fasting: Not Just for Health Nuts" for ideas on how a mental cleanse and a media fast can help you refocus and build momentum in a new direction.

Sometimes, it's good to wipe the slate clean before starting anew.

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Published: October 2, 2012

11 Responses to “Conquer Roadblocks Like Suzanne Somers”

  1. Thank you for this, Steve. Great article, and encouragement for those tough dips. Really strikes a chord.


  2. Dear Steve, It may be better if I was able to connect with you privately, but I'll post here to start with.
    I'm 48 and I had to give up my pharmacy career because of a bereavement and life events. I have followed the inspirational words of awai emails to help me launch a modeling website intended to secure advertising work targeted at the babyboom generation. I have done a press release and recorded a slot for a Los Angeles radio station. But I'm stuck now and I really need your help to start a revenue stream quickly. I know that even just some advice will help. I'm probably missing the obvious.Sincerely, Carolyn Brennan


  3. Thank you for contributing this post, Steve. I really enjoyed reading your article.

    What a coincidence. "Three's Company" was one of my favorite TV shows, and I remember watching almost every episode.

    Somers is one of my heroes for the way she has struggled throughout her life and for the way she reinvented hereself each time.

    Change is a fact of life and change is the only constant in life. You have to be willing to be adaptable and flexible if you are going to taste the sweet spirit of success.

    Somers is no dumb blonde or ditzy air-head and she has nailed the lie of those stereotypes by virtue of her examples.

    Archan Mehta

  4. It's terrific to know that I have the potential to have a team, back-up to be held accountable and a support system to keep on keeping on to reinvent my career.
    Now I just need to "see" and be seen.
    Thanks everybody!


  5. Like Suzy, alternative health has been a concern for me too.

    I experimented after reading about several tips and techniques, but that did not work for me.

    Popping pills had negative side-effects, so I started to experiment with simple meditation and mantra meditation.

    The daily practice of meditation has helped me with my health issues: I noticed the change after a while.

    There is a calmness that descends on you and an overwhelming feeling of bliss that suffuses your life.

    Meditation is a process of healing and I would really recommend it.

    Archan Mehta

  6. I have started over quite a few times and am in the process of doing once more.

    But I've come to discover that each time I "fail" the reinvention has put me closer to the true path of my purpose and real passion in life - you know, the one that was always pushed back in the "maybe one day" and "that'll never happen" department.

    It took life hitting me over the head enough times and with such force to wake me up and honor what I was meant to do all along.

    Great article, Steve.


  7. Thanks Steve, as Cyndee said it "really strikes a chord"

    Do you have any suggestions for what to write when writing daily? For a beginner.


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