A few weeks ago (Aug. 19th, 2019), my brother asked me to help him with an English assignment. I explained this more in my first article, “A Word For the Young and Young of Heart,” and in the second, “Identifying Your Brightest Talents,” so if you missed out, it can’t hurt to go back. His teacher gave him four questions that he had to pose to two people and then write a response to each of their answers. I was thrilled to help him out because, well, writing about how great people are is kinda my thing. What he didn’t tell me was that the paper was supposed to be 2,000 words long- total… I sent him 4,000. Whoops…
Week one, we explored the first question he sent me, “What do you think my strengths and weaknesses are?” I shared the answer I gave to him with all of you. I then shared a bit of encouragement that I wish someone had told me when I was a teenager. Week two’s question was, “how do you think I can use my talents in a meaningful way?” For this one, we looked more at you, the reader, and walked through an exercise that I hope helped a few of you to become a little better intuned with your deepest passions and got you thinking about how to do something exciting with them. This week, we’re going to recall those passions and break them up into digestible pieces. Week four is when we’ll get into a more goal-oriented mindset, so make sure to check back next Monday (Sept. 16th, 2019).
3. How do you see me contributing to the world in the future?
Whether you decide to pursue a path in video games or change course and go develop the next hot app, or completely shock me and get into plumbing, I know that you’ll be amazing. I bet, by the time you hit your career’s peak, tens of thousands of people will know your name, if not hundreds of thousands. Heck, maybe one day I’ll be the one writing the scripts for the games that you develop, and between the two of us, we’ll become more famous than J.K.Rowling. A girl can dream.
When answering this question for my brother, I took a very straightforward approach. Now, several weeks later and after beating my head against this prompt trying to understand how to make it appeal to a broader audience than just my family, I decided to shift my perspective on this question. Let’s look closely at the “How” at the beginning of the sentence. I’m going to use my own goals as an example because they are the ones I’ve put the most research into and can, therefore, write about with more ease (given as I’m writing this the day before my deadline).
I want to be a published writer, and I see myself contributing my works to the world and, hopefully, making a positive impact on how people view themselves and others, but how am I going to go about doing that? I’m going to take some advice from my girl, Rachel Hollis and her newest book, Girl, Stop Apologizing. In one of these many influential and inspiring chapters, Rachel talks about starting with the dream and taking one step at a time backward from there.
This means if I want to be a successful and published author, my first step is, obviously, to get published. What do I need to do to get published? Well, this is a question that can be dumped into the search engine of your choosing, and the answers will be endless. For the sake of ease, let’s say I can either self-publish, which has a lower impact and lower chance of reaching the level of audience that I want, or I can find a publisher willing to pick up my as-of-yet unwritten novel. Choosing a publisher is the best bet for the goals I have in mind. So, on to the next question for the search engine – how do I get a publisher? First, I need to write a query letter. A query letter is basically a written, and formal sales pitch from you to the publisher that you have to make sure stands out above all the thousands of other pitches they receive every day of the week. Basically, it needs to be a diamond in the rough, so no pressure or anything.
Another action one can take to help be noticed in the query letter is to be already published. I know, I know, it seems counter-intuitive, but there are ways of meeting this prerequisite. One could submit short stories or poems to literary magazines and cross their fingers and say a silent prayer until someone finally bites. Once that story is published, rinse and repeat until you have a decent portfolio. One could also amass an internet following through a successful blog (*hint, hint*). Anything you can do to earn a little fame going into the pitch. Oh yeah, and having a degree in some sort of English field helps too.
Circle this all back around, and you have where I am currently standing in my life: an aspiring writer, trying to hold herself to blog goals and deadlines. Adjusting to deadlines after never having placed any on yourself is way harder than all the self-help guru’s make it sound. On top of this, I’m also having to keep up with college life after eight years of being away from the school scene in the hopes of at least getting an AA degree so that I can say, “I gave it the old college try.” Yeah, I hated me for that joke too.
So where is the relevance to you in all this jabbering? My point with this example is that it can help if you unpack your dreams the way I did and reverse engineer them. If you take this vast, explosively overwhelming dream that you have for your life and break it down into bite-sized pieces, it suddenly doesn’t seem so hard. I have also heard it phrased as, “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” If we learn to look at our goals as bites instead of the unreachable impossible, they suddenly start to seem less daunting. It’s not like anyone told you that you had to eat the whole elephant in one day! There is a reason they are called “life goals,” because it’s supposed to take you a lifetime to perfect and achieve them! You have more time to make these dreams a reality than you think you do. Breath, slow it down, and for the love of all that is good and beautiful in this world, enjoy the journey!
Again, good luck with those dreams. I hope this helped you start thinking about the stages of goal setting because next week we’re going to revisit the sage advice of my girl Rachel and set step-by-step goals for getting through each of those tiny bites in next week’s fourth and final question. Hope to see you there!
Next Week’s Question: What advice would you give to help me achieve these goals?