I’ve just completed a mind-blowing achievement I never imagined would happen. I’ve published a book! In February, while I watched Jen Sincero, the author of “Badass Habits,” talk about her newest release, the sky opened up, and the angels sang. The inspiration hit me to put out a book of my favorite essays I’ve written for the Finishing School for Modern Women over the past seven years.
I set a goal to have the book ready to print by the end of September, which was eight months away. This timing seemed doable since I wasn’t planning to write the great American novel from scratch. I got some fantastic advice and plotted the steps I’d need to take to make my dream a reality. Then, I created a timeline with plenty of padding to reduce the stress of those little annoyances that eat up precious time.
I gave myself plenty of grace when I didn’t quite hit my self-imposed deadline for each step along the way. I got bogged down a couple of times, sometimes going weeks without making any progress. But I am tenacious and kept slogging on. It was worth it.
My creative team, the two Cecilias, Cecilia Green and Cecilia Rogers, helped keep me going. We figured out which essays to use and how to structure the book, which helped shape my ideas. They were also my first editors.
I had several other proofreading pros give me advice too. After so many edits, I finally concluded that there will be mistakes in the final draft, which is what makes us human. Besides, it gives my grammar-loving friends something extra to do when they read my book.
I gave the final approval to publish on October 12th, less than two weeks later than I’d intended. It’s always the stuff at the end when the stakes are the highest when little things go wrong. Technology always complicates things too, especially after I decided to add lots of pictures to the essays. Knowing this was not the time to be in a hurry, I mustered up all my patience for the final stretch. I took the plunge and ordered a bunch of books for my first author events. Just typing that last sentence made my stomach flip a little with excitement!
The title is Never Finished: Practical advice for Modern Women to inspire your fierce, creative self. It will be available in a couple of weeks on the Finishing School website and several stores in Wichita. I’ll let you know when the online ordering opens. I have three events already scheduled before the end of the year where I’ll be meeting supporters and signing books. I can’t wait!
Even before publishing this book, I have been a true believer in setting goals. Knowing what I want to achieve and how I’ll make that happen is one of my biggest success secrets. I think of it as the difference between steering a boat along a trajectory or being swept along by the tide, not knowing where I’ll run aground. So here are my tips for making the impossible possible.
Find your focus.
The most important aspect of planning my course is the focus it gives me. I don’t have time to doubt myself or get bogged down in everyday minutia because I’m keeping my eye on the destination, the result of what I’m working toward. This steely gaze on what I want to achieve helps me not get sucked into other people’s agendas. I can purposely choose which projects I want to take on before I let something else get me too off-course.
One of the tricks I’ve learned in creating achievable goals is to design what inspires and excites me about the future. I can clearly see how my life will be more fulfilling in the future if I follow through. Of course, things can happen to change the course. Or a different route can end up being a better option. But at least I’m making progress. When I’ve hit a worthy goal, I can feel it in my heart, head, and gut, like a slot machine pay-off.
I am excited to see where my first book takes me. I have big dreams of international superstardom and have always imagined speaking in front of big audiences, sharing my mission to inspire women’s fierce authentic selves. But first, I plan to go on a book tour in the spring and am looking for friendly places with independent bookstores and other spaces that empower women. If you have any ideas, send me an email! I’d love to come to visit my readers outside Kansas.
In business school, we learned about BHAG, pronounced BEE-HAG. This acronym stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, created in the book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. The idea is to think beyond the status quo to devise a goal that may seem like crazy talk, but you can totally see it happening.
From spending time with the National Federation of the Blind, I learned that the biggest issue that holds people back in life is a lack of self-efficacy, the belief that we can achieve anything we set our minds to. Seeing our potential and imagining big dreams for ourselves is empowering and inspires us to keep going even when we trip over something we didn’t see in the way.
One bite at a time.
Audacious goals usually don’t get completed overnight. So rather than getting overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of your vision, break the goal into bite-sized pieces. It’s like the adage, how do you eat an elephant? The answer, of course, is one bite at a time.
In sales, we call this breaking things down “reduction to the ridiculous.” Saving $1000 a month sounds much more daunting than $33 a day. Breaking the BHAG into smaller steps can also help pause the process so potential new ideas can flow naturally. Best of all, each completed milestone gives you small reasons to celebrate!
Don’t be too rigid.
Situations change, and better ideas come along. So rather than rigidly sticking to a goal that isn’t working, change the trajectory. Often in my life, I’ve found when I’m not making progress, and nothing I try is working, it’s because there’s a better way.
If I can take some time to set in stillness with the idea, rather than getting all frustrated and pulled into a drama cyclone, I can usually find a better option. Sometimes getting help and asking for what I want is the answer. That has taken me a lifetime to learn.
Allowing goals to walk the line between your vision and serendipity is not easy, but if we decide our dreams can only work out one way, we miss all the other opportunities we could have seen by being fluid and not a big old stick in the mud.
Don’t go it alone.
Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness. It takes strength to listen to criticism and sift through other people’s ideas and opinions, deciding what to apply and what to let go of. It’s not always easy welcoming honest feedback, but fresh perspectives and amazing ideas to take goals from mundane to magnificent overwhelmingly outweigh the few minutes of discomfort from truthtellers.
Besides, no one is good at everything. It took a team of eight people, five of them editors, to help me prepare Never Finished. Thanks to their help, it’s a much better book than I could have put out on my own. I could feel everything clicking into place with each idea and edit I used.
Jessica Wasson-Crook designed the book cover. She was my first assistant and helped me with all the original Finishing School branding. It truly felt full circle to work with her again since she’s gone on to be a big-time creative director at a brewery outside of Atlanta.
Now comes the fun part! Celebrations!
I hope you’ll come to an author event if you’re in the area. My book will sell for $19.95, and I’ll be happy to see you whether you buy a book or not. I already imagine these events will be like a party. Anytime I hang out with our Modern, Badass Women, I have fun.
The first event I have scheduled is at Best of Times at 6452 E. Central in Normandie Shopping Center on Saturday, October 29th, from noon until 3. You may have read that Nancy, who has been the force behind one of my favorite local businesses for 41 years, is retiring. We’re going to celebrate her retirement and my BHAG at the same time!
Because We’re Never Finished
The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves, not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages to learn from experts and each other how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life.
To learn more about what we do:
https://www.finishingschoolformodernwomen.com for our classes and free social membership.
Phone: 316-841-8927 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org