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It’d be a perfect day to go out and run, and I even had time this morning, but my leg has still been hurting. Yesterday on the playground with the kids reminded me of how sore it is so I’m still taking it easy. I find it frustrating because I have a dreams of being strong, healthy and in shape. The reality doesn’t quite mesh with the dream.
Hugh Howey just posted about Goals vs. Dreams.
My goal was to write and complete a single novel. My dream was to be an international bestselling author.
He’s absolutely right. There’s a big difference between goals and dreams, and both are important.
I have a lot of dreams. I have dreams for my son’s future. For our future. Dreams about what I’d like to do with our house. Creative goals and dreams. I read ImagineFX and dream that I’ll be able to create the sort of amazing art that I see on those pages. I realize that I can’t simply sit down and do that. Instead I have goals. For one, I’m doing daily sketches and posting those here. Each week I’m also creating a sketch for a short story cover. And each month or so I’m doing a more involved illustration for a novel cover. I’ve posted my cover gallery. It’s a way of tracking that goal, as I put up each of the covers.
Does it match my dream? Not yet. I’m I meeting my goals? Most of the time. I’m studying resources like ImagineFX or Carlyn Beccia’s The Digital Renaissance.
The primary limiting factor with all of my goals is time. Money plays a factor too, although that’s where having a great Day Job makes things easier. It relieves some of the financial stress and gives me some options.
I dream of the day when I can write and paint full-time. In the meantime I have clear goals. Daily word counts to meet, weekly and monthly publishing goals. Goals to create and share artwork. Creative goals to improve both my writing and painting skills.
Here’s the key: Goals are in your control. Dreams aren’t.
Say I want to sell 10,000 copies of my Dead Things books this month. Can I make that happen? Not directly. There’s nothing I can do that would directly make that happen. Sure, I could set up a promotion plan and increase the exposure of the books, generate more awareness in the series. It’d make more sense to do it once the third book comes out at the end of the month, but all that promotion still doesn’t give me direct control over whether or not the books sell. Could it help? Sure, possibly it would if more people were aware of the series. But it’s still not in my direct control. All my work might result in 500 copies sold. Is that a success or failure?
If I understand the difference between goals and dreams, it could be a success. Say that one of my goals was to Tweet three times a day about the Dead Things series (I’m not saying that’s a good goal, but let’s go with it). That’s an easily measurable goal. Did I do it or not? I can track it. If that was my plan and I successfully met that goal then I’ve succeeded. It might not have resulted in increased sales of the series (probably wouldn’t), or it might have generated some interest. That part is out of my control. As much as I’d love to see the series sell 10,000 copies this month, I can’t make people pick up the books.
I ordinarily prefer goals that are either production goals (such as writing every day), or creative goals (such as studying a particular book). At the same time Mr. Howey is right that it’s important to dream. The dream of selling 10,000 copies or writing full-time is a powerful motivator. I love the part of his post where he talks about dreams because it resonates so well with my experience. Some dreams are more grounded than others, but they keep me going. I had a dream when I was a teenager that I would someday be a full-time writer. That dream continues today. It carried me through college and grad school. It’s taken me to workshops on the Oregon coast. Each step along the way was made of concrete goals that were in my control.
Has that dream come true? Not yet. I haven’t given up. It’s not my only dream. Dreams grow and change. I’ve achieved some dreams and then I dreamed up new futures. I don’t see that process stopping.
The Rest of the Day
This morning I worked on the first part of this post. Afterward I turned my attention to the story I’m working on this week, and then I headed out to an appointment with the dentist before going to work at the Day Job.
The dentist visit was fine, no issues there. Thanks to my parents for good dental care growing up.
After that work went fine. I managed to get in some good time working on my novel during lunch. The novel is coming along well. That’s a bit of an understatement. It’s fun. I’m having a blast.
To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.
If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.