Not long ago, I received an email from my publisher. “The book is uploaded to the printer!!”
This has been a 20-month project, and a 20-year goal in the making. If you’re pondering that next big dream goal in your life too, or if you’re in the midst of one, these were a few of the most surprising, unexpected lessons I encountered during the process of writing The Modern Seller.
When you’re built for sprints, you must train differently for a marathon. I’m used to moving fast. A 500-word blog post, or even a 5,000-word eBook? No problem. Those are sprints; I can easily see the finish line. Because I have developed the muscle for this type of writing, it is in my comfort zone.
But a 45,000-word book is a marathon, and the finish line is off in a murky distance. For someone who is used to moving fast and pivoting quickly, my mindset and goal-setting strategies needed to change. I had to anticipate and work past frustrations – from changing up the outline, to even scrapping entire sections because they just didn’t fit. If I scrapped an entire section, I had to accept that it wasn’t a failure, but part of the process. The bigger the goal, the more planning it needs. I chunked down that big goal (“the book”) into much smaller milestones: outlines, chapters, or some days, just sentences.
What ignites you? Knowing where your energy comes from is critical to making progress on your goals. @amyfranko #ModernSellerClick to tweet
Knowing where your energy comes from is critical to making progress. I’m an ambivert, so while I get energy from both collaborative and independent activities, I’m definitely more on the extroverted and social end of the spectrum. Writing a book is a very solitary activity. If I logged too many days in a row alone in my home office, I thought I would lose my mind.
To get past that, there were times I just had to put it down. While some authors would tell you to write every single day, I decided to take breaks. There were some stretches where I was doing client work or keynote speaking engagements. I needed those interjections of collaboration and different work to keep me motivated and energized. The one downside was that there were some stretches where the break was too long, and it took more to get back into the writing habit. A weekly check in with my publisher helped me with that accountability to keep me on track.
There will be tradeoffs. Make sure you’re good with them. Someone asked me what my biggest tradeoff was to make time for writing the book. Hands down, it was less new business development time. I’d been warned by more than one author to be ready for a sharp drop in revenues because of the time needed to write the book. That was such valuable advice: I made some adjustments to budget and worked on building business primarily in existing clients or working referrals, versus net new business. So far I’ve been diversified enough with offerings and clients, plus with a dedicated team to execute on contracts, the drop off hasn’t been as significant as I’d anticipated.
A secondary lesson with trade offs: With a goal this big, I didn’t have room in my life for another goal of this size. I had to choose the book over other big goals, so I could stay focused. Now that the book is off to the printer, I’m much lighter and I have more creative bandwidth. (For marketing and selling the book, as my marketing director reminds me.)
Working toward a big goal? Remember, doing something significant is vulnerable. And that’s OK. @amyfranko #ModernSellerClick to tweet
Doing something significant is vulnerable. If there’s one piece of well-meaning constructive feedback I get pretty regularly, it’s that I can come off as a little too polished, a little too practical, a little too rehearsed. I guess it’s the perfectionist in me, always wanting to deliver. So while I’m not sure I know another way to be, it is something I’m working on. Writing the book has made me feel way more vulnerable than I anticipated. Especially after the book went to the printer and there was no turning back. Fear of no more edits? Fear of being criticized? Fear of missing something important? Check the boxes… yep, yep, and yep. No doubt about it.
But then I’m reminded of the Mark Twain quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.”
This book was a decision to step onto a bigger stage, to expand my safe harbor. No different than when I started this business almost 12 years ago. I vividly remember deciding that I didn’t want to look back and wish I would’ve tried it.
The more significant the goal, the more vulnerable it’s going to feel. It’s supposed to be that way. That’s how you’ll know it’s big enough for you at this moment.
Also published on Medium.
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