11 Nov 3 lessons to achieve the biggest goals
It was Wednesday night.
On October 2 of this year, I learned the fate of the biggest, most formidable goal to date.
I have always been objective. I set fire-related goals and running mileage goals and spun the class goals. I set goals for reading books. I set income targets.
However, in the decades of goal-setting, no goal has ever seemed as unattainable or unachievable as I would know the fate of the October evening. And while some of me wished it wasn’t my goal, it was there. The goal that did not let go.
I wanted to be a bestseller in the New York Times. The Times list is the most important – it indicates once and for all that you have created it. And of all the goals I set in my life, it taught me the best. Here are three great lessons for my target peers:
1. Indulge in the goal.
I learned this the hard way. As a toddler struggling just to fall asleep to collapse in an inevitable pile of delirium, I also struggled with that goal until he went crazy.
I didn’t want to want to because I knew how impossible and unlikely it was.
I wasted an unpredictable amount of time, even more energy and common sense arguing over whether to pursue this great goal. By the time I finally accepted that goal, I was exhausted.
2. Do not stop at anything (except dignity).
Although I relinquished my belief in a goal set as a New York Times bestseller, my actions for that purpose have never. As soon as there was a cover that needed to be shared, I started pre-selling the book. I offered it from the stage at my main performance. I sent it to my email list. I took my husband and children with me on the road to the events to help make the pre-orders. After the podcast, I recorded a podcast from an impromptu studio under my son’s bunk bed (right next to the T-Rex figure that started yelling or not during one of the recordings).
We spent hundreds of hours telling anyone about the book. If The New York Times was the goal and we didn’t achieve it, I never wanted to question whether I did it.
The truth is often that the big goals, the ones you really desire and work for, are not the first to achieve. They try failure and experiential wisdom.
Still, there were things I said no to – things I didn’t do because they felt bad.
Many of the publications have heard that there are “abbreviations” or “tricks” for making the NYT list. And I confess, some of the options presented were tempting. The day I found out one of these shortcuts, I accidentally picked up a copy of the Times and read Aunt Becky’s story from the Full House because she was overthrown because she cheated on her daughter’s college studies.
I had the answer. Whether I was on the list or not, I never wanted to question the means by which I achieved my goal.
The goal for which I worked so hard for which my whole family sacrificed was the goal I longed for most of my career.
I wasn’t the most popular author of the New York Times. I didn’t reach my goal.
My husband told me; my agent had strict orders to call him, not me. As he posted news, I could see him physically and emotionally preparing for his wife’s complete mental collapse — because of sobs and tears, why would I mediate Nancy Kerrigan crying !? Why!? Why!?
It was a reaction I was expecting. But not the reaction came.
Instead, I felt my lips curl and my eyes narrow in a conscious wink.
At that moment of defeat, an overwhelming serenity gripped him. That’s not the end of the story.
That was the middle.
The truth is often that the big goals, the ones you really desire and work for, are not the first to achieve. They try failure and experiential wisdom. If you’ve ever missed a goal, I hope you’ll be comforted to know it’s just the middle of the story.