10 Things I Hate About Accomplishing Goals:
Lessons Learned While Writing My First Book
[Part 1 of 2]
Most people have a suitcase full of dreams collecting dust. I’ve recently finished my first book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith.
While it is an amazing feeling to have accomplished one of my biggest life-goals, it is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve both loved and hated the entire process, because there have been some fundamental lessons to learn. I had to face them head-on in order to achieve the goal that consumed my heart and monopolized my mind. I hope these lessons (put in no particular order) can be a catalyst for achieving your own task of great personal value and importance: your goal.
Set Your Goal:
Of course this is the first step! And it is actually not easy to do effectively. The process can get overwhelming. That’s why you’ve got to get out of your regular environment to do it right. Go away for a few days to a conference, golf trip, or antiquing quest. What you do doesn’t have to be related to your overall idea. The point is, minimize the distractions of normal life so you can think about a new dream. Reduce the clutter in order to clear the path. This is where creative brain waves will thrive. Don’t forget to bring a pad and pencil wherever you go and write everything down as you look for that mid-century vase. Write from your heart first, and then sift with your mind later.
You need momentum bad. It is the make-or-break thing. I have found two critical ingredients that make up momentum: 1) support and 2) validation. Without those you will stall. Support is your wife liking your idea and letting you pursue it. Validation is someone actually buying your book, for example. Since it takes so long to accomplish a goal like this, you’ll very often have to figure out how to be your own source of momentum. Not to mention, if the book doesn’t do well. Will you pursue a goal like this again? Thomas Edison is said to have failed 5,000 times before he got a light bulb to work right. He was his own source of momentum for many years without any validation.
Doubt is your biggest enemy. Besides the negativity from other people, you can easily second guess yourself to death. It’s not that people mean to be negative. It’s just that no one will be as excited about your goal as you. After all, it’s your baby. Nothing will cause a state of stagnancy in your process like an overwhelming cloud of doubt. In fact, there will be more doubts than anything else. Once you decide to try to accomplish a goal, it’s like someone builds a doubt factory next door to flood the air you breath. Whether you believe in God or not, you need to fight doubt by believing and having faith in your idea.
You need money, money, and more money for most goals — especially a book. By the time a book hits stores (or Amazon.com), there’s been about $25-30K invested in the project. There are editing, rewriting, more editing, design, layout, website, marketing, and printing costs. Don’t have the money? Don’t want to be stupid and trick your wife into letting you take out a home equity line of credit like me? Then you will have to put all your efforts into getting published. This is largely based on whom you know or who you are these days. So if you are not rich, famous, or powerful (or related to someone who is), you have quite a mission and challenge ahead of you. You’ll need to convince someone to put their money into your goal.
Like everything else in life, it’s all about follow-through. You may have noticed this is not a common character trait today. You’ll never get anything done if you don’t actually do anything. I told people for a long time about the book I was writing. Unfortunately, nothing was really getting done. I felt like some longhaired kid wearing sandals and a tie-dyed t-shirt smoking and driving around the country in a Volkswagen bus telling people I was going to change the world. So I started a handyman business in order to finish my book. It was the only way to create any flexibility in my schedule to finish. It was, and still is, a big risk, but it was the only way. Dreamers dream. And doers do.
Join me next week as I reveal the final five lessons I learned in this process. In the meantime, please visit www.10thingsihate.com for more information.
about —the writer
I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and started my first band at the age of sixteen. It was horrible. By age twenty, my third band, Strongarm, was better. We signed with Tooth & Nail Records. We recorded an album, shot a video, went on several small tours, and also recorded a single as we prepared a second album. Halfway to completing it, I decided to quit the band, which ended my musical aspirations. The other members continued without me for a couple of years.
After leaving the band, I started a small construction company and finished school. After eight short years, I finally finished with an associate’s degree in mass communications and a bachelor’s degree in theology. In 2000, I helped start a church in Miami called Calvary Fellowship. I served as an assistant pastor overseeing several areas of ministry, including children and youth programs, volunteer placement, and lay counseling. At the end of 2005, I decided to make a change and follow another ambitious childhood dream—writing. 10 Things I Hate About Christianity is my first project and, if all goes well, will be the first of many. Meanwhile, I operate a handyman business to pay the bills.
My wife and I have been married since 1999. We have three sons and attend North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. We lead a small group there and volunteer in various ministry areas from time to time.