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Set Outrageous Goals

I recently heard a sermon on “setting outrageous goals.” If we set small goals, the speaker said, we will be satisfied when we meet them and not strive harder or do more. But if we set outrageous goals—goals we don’t think we can meet—we are much more likely to make those goals. And even if we don’t we are more likely to go farther and get closer to them, than if we stopped, satisfied, with just meeting those smaller goals.

It’s not enough, however, to just set the goal. You must develop a plan.

I asked an author recently if she had a business plan. She replied that she had “a vision board” and a list of goals. Every day she recites her goals and “puts them out to the universe.” That’s great as far as it goes, and I firmly believe in having your vision and goals in front of you every day. But if you don’t do more than “put them out to the universe” how will you ever reach those goals? It’s fine to say, “I have a goal to sell 1,000 books this year,” but without a strategy to do that, it’s just not going to happen.

Many years ago I developed a vision for my future. It was very simple: “I want to earn enough money on my own that I will never have to work for another boss again.”

At the time my vision was vague. I didn’t know exactly what “not having another boss” would look like. But it became my guiding mantra for the next few decades until I sat back one day, looked at my life, and realized that I had accomplished my goal.

No, my career doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. It has taken a lot of twists and turns. At the time I developed my vision, I had a vague idea of becoming a freelance writer. It never occurred to me that over the years I would eventually own a local magazine, that the newspaper and magazine industry would be totally changed by the internet, or that I would become a book publisher. But somehow, at the end of the day, I’ve managed to create a career that has allowed me to be my own boss, just like I originally said.

From Vision to Goals

Vision is the long-term concept or dream that guides what you do. To achieve that vision, you need long-term and short-term goals. Where would you like to be in ten years? In five years? Next year? What will it take for you to get there?

At the time I first created my vision, my son had just been born. My first business goal (I had a lot of other parenting and life goals, but this book is about the business of writing) was to create a core of freelance writing connections that would allow me to continue to work from home once my son was in school full time. This goal led me to becoming the owner of a local magazine. It was not a huge financial success, but it was a stepping-stone. After just a few years, I sold the magazine and became a columnist for the local daily paper. When I made the deal with the newspaper editor, I stipulated that I would be a freelancer, a “1099” employee, and I would never have to come into the office. It was the ’90s. I was a pioneer!

From Goals to Plans

What’s the difference between a goal and a plan? A goal is the result we want to achieve. The plan is how we are going to get there. You need a plan that will outline exactly what you want. I suggest creating a yearly plan. Start with your overall vision, add your goals, then make a list of the tasks you need to do to accomplish your goals.

Make sure you “stretch” a little and make your goals outrageous. Let me know what goals you have made for the year.

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