Goal-setting and BTS of writing our book

Since the book launch in January, people have been asking --

"What was it like to write a book?! Did you always know you wanted to write one?  How did it all come together?" 

These questions got me to thinking about the overall book-writing process, how it all fell into place, and how our audacious goal-setting definitely had something to do with it.

 A common scene in my living room over the course of writing the book.  Vital to my success: alone time!

A common scene in my living room over the course of writing the book.  Vital to my success: alone time!

In December of 2015, we were surprised to be contacted by Sasquatch Books. After reading our blog from a snippet of an article in Sunset Magazine, Sasquatch emailed to ask if we had ever considered writing a book. Writing a book had been a bold goal of ours from the very beginning of starting New Minimalism. So while we were thunderstruck and beyond excited to receive the email, at the same time we were 100% prepared with our answer: Why yes, we have considered writing a book.  

The Importance of Goal Setting

Which brings me to goal-setting. I was first introduced to goal-setting as a formal practice in my post-university days as a mere 22 year old.  I had freshly moved to Brooklyn, NY with the idea that I'd immerse myself in the yoga community and eventually become a yoga instructor.  I found work at a yoga clothing store and was I quickly swept into the the personal development program that my new workplace generously provided. 

At 22 I was ripe for self-development --  I devoured and subsequently had my mind blown by Eckhart Tolle's, A New Earth.  I sat in the front row at leadership workshops, I "discovered my strengths" from Strengths Finder (Connectedness, Ideation, Maximizer, Input).  And I was constantly honing my communication skills as a manager. 

Every quarter my workplace would have goal-setting meetings.  We filled out 1-year, 5-year and 10-year goals related to Personal, Career and Health categories.  While goal setting at first was new and challenging, it eventually began to feel contrived.  I noticed how all the goals posted on the wall at work started to look the same across different employees. I wonder if that's how I ended up writing as one of my goals, "I get married in Tahoe by 2015" (didn't happen, by the way)?

So when I eventually left that job to pursue a career in sustainable design, I paused the practice of super-structured goal setting.  I was burned out on the constant assessing, the continual striving. What I did learn during that period was a basic goal-setting practice that I continue to this day in various notebooks and journals.

More images from the writing of the book, including, our photographer Kelly Ishikawa, the photoshoot schedule, and my sidekick during that time, Dolly Walker.

goal-setting - the basics

While there are a variety of goal-setting strategies, there seem to be 3 practices that are common to all goal-setting techniques:

  1. Write it down: In the present tense, like it's already happened). This gets it out of your head and in to the world -- a scary step!  It also gets your subconscious to work making sh*t happen.
  2. Dream big: Don't let the man hold you down, and by the man I mean your own restrictive imagination.  Your goals are often stifled by past ideas of what success should or could look like for you.  If you had zero restrictions, how would you spend your time?  
  3. Look back: Every now and again review your old journals and notebooks to see your progress, your thought process, your past behavior patterns and recall the path that got you to where you are today.  

BAck to the Writing of our Book

I concretely recall the conversation I had with Cary about New Minimalism one day writing a book.  It was during one of our 6-hour stretches working on our computers, holed up in Cafe Jane on Fillmore (freelancers in SF, you know what I'm talking about). Hailing from a lineage of writers, it was a big dream of Cary's from the beginning and when we talked about it, I thought it was thrillingly ambitious and was fully on-board.

Despite this distinct memory, I wanted cold-hard evidence of this conversation. So I started to dig into my old journals and notebooks to find the original seed.  I was convinced that I had written something down.  After about 30 minutes of rifling through different notebooks I finally found it!  Back in July of 2013 I had a little note in my journal that read:

"Books? Ideas -- 'thoughts on sustainability and simplified living'". 

There it was, plain as day, written adjacent to my interview answers for the blog post introducing me to the readers of the New Minimalism. 

Wow, the goal was so succinct and simple and to me proves that writing something down can conjure up some voodoo magic to make it a reality.  But also important to note that a prerequisite to writing it down was the mere fact that between Cary and myself, we had the safe space to dream far and wide about what was even possible for us. Without such, we wouldn't have discussed this in the first place.  So don't discount with whom you share your goals.  We already hold our own sleves back enough, with life goals you want support and encouragement.

As winter comes to a close and spring draws nearer, reminding us that time continues to pass, what can you say so far about 2018?  When the year was fresh and new in January, what goals did you set?  What dreams did you dare to write down?  How are those goals going?

There is a new moon on March 17th, and it's a good day to set intentions.  Mark your calendars, set aside some alone time and make this is your official quarterly check-in :)