It was Wednesday night.
On October 2 of this year, I read the conclusion of the biggest and most daunting goal I ever set for myself.
I have always been a goal scorer. I set goals regarding weight and use of mileage goals and spin class goals. I have set goals for reading books. I have set goals for income. I even set goals for my laundry – trying to wrap up my clothes for a whole week in one episode of Shark Tank.
However, in all my decades of goal-setting, no goal has ever seemed as unattainable or as unattainable as the one I was going to read the end of that October night. And while my part wished that this was not my intention, it was. A goal that would not let me go.
There is no objective in sacrificing your dignity and values. Always.
I wanted to be a New York Times best-selling author. The Times list is the biggest – pointing, permanently, that you’ve done it. And of all the goals I’ve ever set for myself in life, this is the one that has taught me the most. Here are three great lessons for those I set goals for myself:
There is no objective in sacrificing your dignity and values. Always. Here are three great lessons for those I set goals for myself:
- Commit yourself to the goal.
I read this bitterly. Like a little kid struggling with his sleep until he fell into an inevitable pile of delirium, I struggled with this goal until it moved me.
I didn’t want to look for it because I knew it was impossible and impossible. And then when I finally conceded that goal, I felt like I was split in two – the part that dared to dream it was possible, and the part that made me laugh at the useless first half of imagining it.
I have spent countless time, a lot of energy and a clear mind just arguing about whether I can fight for this great goal. By the time I finally accepted that this was the intention, I was exhausted.
If you feel the goal is hiding behind your mind or the corners of your soul, do not waste a moment fleeing from it. Accept it. Accept it. Do it.
- Do not stand for anything (without losing your dignity).
Although my belief in the goal of becoming a New York Times best seller, my actions in that goal never happened. As soon as there was a cover I could share, I started selling the book beforehand. I gave it to you from the stage in my keynote presentations. I sent you to my email list. I went with my husband and children on the way to events to help with taking pre-orders. I recorded the podcast after the podcast from a temporary studio under my son’s bed (next to his T-Rex photo that might start roaring during the recording).
We have spent hundreds of hours telling anyone about this book. If the New York Times was a goal and we didn’t achieve it, I never wanted to ask if I had done enough.
The fact is that big goals, which you really want and work for, are never achieved. They take the test and the failure and the wisdom that comes only with experience.
That being said, there are some things I can say no to – things I didn’t do because they felt wrong.
Many people in publishing have heard that there are “shortcuts” or “tricks” to make the NYT list. And I agree, a few of the presented options are experimental. The very day I found one of these shortcuts I happened to take a copy of The Times and read the story of Aunt Becky of Full House who was frustrated by cheating on her daughter on her way to college.
I had my answer. Whether I made this list or not, I never wanted to ask how I achieved the goal. There is no objective in sacrificing your dignity and values. Always.
- Know when and how it ended.
Indeed, on October 2 I received the news.
The goal I had worked so hard for, the whole family I had donated, the one I wanted more than anything in my career… missed.
I was not a New York Times best-selling author. I did not achieve the goal.
My husband was the one who would tell me; my agent had strict orders to call him, not me. When he brought the news, I could see him physically and emotionally reinforcing so that his wife was completely out of his mind – with tears and crying, to send Nancy Kerrigan with tears of why !? Why !? Why !?
It was the way I expected too. But there was no response.
Instead I felt myself wrapping my lips and my narrow eyes with a conscious glance. I thought, “This is going to be the best story I’ve ever had to be the best-selling writer in the New York Times.”
At that moment of defeat, I was overcome with a great sense of calm. This was not the end of the story.
This was in the middle.
The fact is that big goals, which you really want and work for, are never achieved. They take the test and the failure and the wisdom that comes only with experience. If you have missed a goal, I hope you too will be comforted to know that it is only in the middle of the story.
That Wednesday night in October did not bring the news I had been expecting. But it was only 24 hours later that we discovered that my book was No. 2 on the best-selling list at Wall Street Journal Business.
It was an acceptable conspiracy in the matter I am still writing.
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