I'm a huge fan of goals. Unless you have a lot of time, don't ever get me started about Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale... See what I mean?
Thinking ahead is part of what I do. I'm not even sure where I learned it. High school theater I think. We did three large productions a year. I rose from grunt carpenter's hand through the lighting crew to Technical Director and set designer (the only student designed set we ever used). Not only did I run the theater, I taught a weekly course for my entire senior year to train the next generation of theater folks. I did it because I could see that without it, the theater program would never be as good as it could be. And though I didn't continue in the field (much), almost every one of those dozen students made a lifetime career out of it.
I jumped into corporate and I was always looking ahead, setting goals that the company never imagined. Automation, new methods of operation, lean process--I reengineered five or six different firms from the inside. And I'd have to say the biggest lesson for me was that without the goal, without the dream? Squat happens.
This post wasn't going to be about goals...but I seem to be here anyway. Jim Collins (Built to Last and Good to Great--two awesome studies of success in corporate America) talks about the power of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
Without BHAGs, my old high school theater might well have languished rather than inspired. Any number of corporations might have followed different paths. Some better, some worse...no way to know, but I like to think that the former is far more true. (My various bosses, even years after I left, were inclined to agree with me.)
Speaking of BHAGs: Way back in 1993 I had the idea that I wanted to write a book. I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis, had lost everything (job, career, house, etc), and I'd decided to ride my bicycle around the world for a couple of years. Along the way, I wrote my first novel. Which became book #1 of my Deities Anonymous series: Cookbook From Hell: Reheated.
To that moment, I had written under 2,000 words of fiction in my entire life.
By the time I finished that book, (and took a class, and threw out the manuscript, and rewrote the book, then survived the edits, then...), I knew what I wanted to do.
"I want to make my full-time living as a writer."
Definitely a BHAG worthy of Jim Collins, for a corporate project manager who loved to read but had no experience writing more than a computer manual or systems proposal. What a goal like that does, is that it focuses the attention. It would be another fifteen years from the publication of that first book to walking away from my corporate job to become a full-time writer.
HOWEVER, if I hadn't had that dream, that goal, where would I be? I wouldn't have spent too much on conferences. I wouldn't have read an entire bookcase worth of how-to books. I wouldn't have spent so much effort learning or sacrificed so much to attend so many classes. And I wouldn't have written 55 novels and 70 short stories. www.mlbuchman.com
It was by having the crazy dream...that it turned out to not be so crazy after all.
M.L. Buchman started the first of over 50 novels and even more short stories while flying from South Korea to ride across the Australian Outback. All part of a solo around-the-world bicycle trip (a mid-life crisis on wheels) that ultimately launched his writing career.
Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award.
He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.