Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass. — Paul J. Meyer, Author of Unlocking Your Legacy
Like most people, I have many dreams. When I was single, I dreamt of being married. After I was married, I dreamt of having a career and then children. When I became a stay-at-home mom, I had a different dream.
It started in 2006 when I was challenged to write a “BHAG” — Big Hairy Audacious Goal — at a personal growth conference. After a quick prayer and deep breath I wrote, “Write a book manuscript by next year.” That was “Big” because I didn’t know much about book writing and publishing. It was “Hairy” because I had a 2 year-old at home with another baby on the way. When would I find the time to write? It was “Audacious” because once I wrote the manuscript, the odds of actually getting it published were dismal. But I didn’t care. I was fired up at that conference believing anything is possible with God and I set the goal.
When my son napped, I wrote. Some days, the words flowed. Other days … well, you know how it goes. But with my goal firmly in place, the manuscript was done in 12 months. I devoured books about self publishing, getting a literary agent, and writing a winning book proposal. I talked with book printers and discovered how expensive it was to print, store, and distribute books. I was overwhelmed.
Enter best-selling author Pam Farrel who’s written more than 30 books including, Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti. She was speaking at a Moms Day Out and I thought, If only I could get her to give me some advice about my manuscript. I stood in line to speak to her after the event and guess what? Not only did she say she’d look at my manuscript, she offered to include me in a group of writers she mentors. Talk about a divine appointment!
Pam has taught me more about writing, speaking, and ministry in the two years I’ve known her than I could have ever learned in 100 books. Having her as a real-life guide to watch and emulate has dramatically pushed my goal of book writing forward. She recommended my manuscript to her publisher and although that manuscript was ultimately rejected, they asked to see another book idea from me. 31 Days to a Younger You was born out of that challenge. The BHAG lives!
31 Days to a Younger You is scheduled to release in January 2011. I picture myself grinning from ear to ear, holding that book — that dream between the covers. I’ll drop down on my knees and thank God for His amazing favor and provision. I set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal years ago with a heart full of hope. I suppose you could say only a Big Hairy Audacious God could have made it happen.
Many times we see people succeed in sports, music, or ministry and think, “Wow, an overnight success!” I like what my mentor Pam Farrel says about those overnight sensations. She reminded me what people don’t usually see are the years and years of hard work that preceded that success. Overnight successes are usually decades in the making.
I believe goal setting is the key to enjoying more success in life. Each met goal lays a foundation for the next challenge. Getting 31 Days to a Younger You published was preceded by many other smaller goals along the way like attending a writer’s conference, reading a publishing blog, and taking an author to coffee.
Remember the personal growth conference I attended to write my goal about the manuscript in the first place? My husband James and I have been attending that annual Mastermind Summit for the past 10 years. I firmly believe my life would have taken a different course without it. The creator of the Mastermind Conference Brian Buffini says:
A goal is the end to which all effort is directed. Be intentional, go to work on your goals and dreams and you’ll get all you want from life.
Brian Buffini’s wife Beverly is the personification of goal setting — an Olympic athlete with six children. Need I say more? Her motto is simple: I can. I will. I believe. When you believe you can reach your goals, you’re already halfway there. Too many people I know don’t set goals because they are disillusioned. Why bother setting a goal if it’s not coming true? Goal setting can become an exercise in futility and frustration if we don’t do it correctly, simply, and regularly. Remember the acronym for SMART goals:
- Specific and Written
- Measurable Progress and Completion
- Achievable Outcome
- Realistic in Time and Skill
- Time-based Achievement
When you follow this SMART guideline in goal setting, it refines your goal into something doable instead of a pipe dream that’s not realistic. The last letter, “Time-based achievement” is about having a deadline for your dream. For example, nine months on, nine months off, is a good time-based goal for new moms wanting to lose weight.
Many times I’ve had to tinker with my goals to adjust to my circumstances. Or sometimes I’ve had to do the opposite — to adjust my circumstances to my goals. For example, about five months after having a baby, the scale was at a standstill. I had to change my circumstances to reach my goal of nine months on, nine months off. I chose to do the Atkins diet and my husband and I did the home workout program P90X. The adjustments paid off and I met the goal.
Has every goal turned out golden for me? I’d love to say, “yes,” but I have plenty of goals that have been long forgotten like learning to cook that new recipe each week. I’m still more in the assembly and grilling phase. But that’s OK. Goals are a work in progress. Maybe next Mastermind I’ll have a new goal: to cook penne alla vodka for my Italian husband.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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