Thursday, October 28, 2010

GOALS: Author Cheryl Lage's Take on The Word

Author Cheryl Lage is proof that success does spring from the slush pile. Back when I was an agent, I would read through many, many submissions. Cheryl's pitch for her prescriptive (how-to) guide for maintaining a healthy twins pregnancy and successfully navigating the first year of a twins pregnancy was professional, clear, and totally charming; I already felt I had struck up a great friendship with this got-it-goin'-on Southern mother of twins. But she had no platform. Bummer! So we chatted. I really liked the idea of this book, loved the totally accessible tone, and celebrity twin pregnancies were the hot headlines of the day. Cheryl won me over. Not only was she professional, receptive and totally sweet, she was willing to do some major work to create a platform...really putting herself out there, creating a name for herself and her future book! About 18 months later, I sold Twinspiration: Real Life Advice From Pregnancy Through The First Years (for parents of twins and multiples) to Taylor Trade. The book continues to be a top pick for twins (and multiples) expecting mamas and Cheryl continues to thrive as successful twins expert, author, blogger and mom.

So, naturally, I thought this woman who had single-handedly raised her own platform while writing a book AND being a great mom to twins under the age of two, would be the right voice to pull into our GOALS discussion this month. Her answer surprised me.

I asked my former client and always friend, Cheryl:

As a busy author, blogger and mother of twins, how important has setting clear, definable goals been in your writer's life?

CL: Go ahead and consider it blasphemy if you wish, but goal-setting is not my mode.

The word goal assaults me from the page or screen; it’s too in my face. Intimidating. Daunting. Always dangling a threat of the elusive unachievable, or worse, the possible---even probable—likelihood of failure. Undeniably, the word tends to motivate others, but it resoundingly thwarts my typically Pollyanna-like confidence.

TLC: I would never have guessed this in a million years! Cheryl exuded confidence and poise at every step of the publishing process from start to finish...but I get her point.

CL: Semantics are important to writers...and equally important to folks like me, those more accurately defined as self-transcribing talkers. Using the word goal somehow provides leeway for rationalizing the inability to attain. A seeming excuse for the target missed, the finish line uncrossed. Yet the word dreams seems too ethereal; aspirations too lofty.

Strong desire dictates thoughtful discernment, so let’s talk terminology. If it’s a personal mandate, give your goal a new name. Re-title it a responsibility.

After all, goals imply trying. To quote an ancient Jedi master, which trust me, I don’t do often, “Do or do not. There is no try.” As a ‘busy author, blogger, mother of twins,’ freelance writer, full-time ad agency post-production producer and wife of an amazing man fighting cancer, I have no goals. I have responsibilities. Duties. Priorities.

Setting clear definable “do’s” is not only important, it’s imperative---in my life as a writer, and as a woman.

TLC: Well said, Cheryl. While I do think it's important to face those issues and words in a writer's life that stimulate fearful thinking and feeling - it's what I coach - if renaming a process or term helps you wrap your brain, confidence and ability around succeeding, do it! Keep moving forward, whatever it takes.

Your Action: What makes you fearful about the creative or publishing process? Take time this weekend to pinpoint your main issue(s), own up to them honestly and commit to working your way around this fear. Don't allow fear to keep you from achieving your goals, responsibilities, bench-marks or to-dos!

About the Contributor:

A mother of two and wife of one, Cheryl Lage is the author of Twinspiration: Real Life Advice From Birth Through The First Year (Taylor Trade, 2006). Read more of her heart-filled, but entirely goal free - perspectives at Twinfatuation.


  1. I agree with Cheryl. The word "goal" really bothers me, also. It seems too disconnected from reality, like I have to expect a lot out of myself, and become a different person. I'd just rather consider goals as following my heart's desire.

  2. Totally understandable, Cathy. I like "following your heart's desires!" I think it's safe to say people approach their desires differently. And as Cheryl said, she'd rather use the word "do", which is even better!

    I'm totally at home using the word goal. It motivates me to no end. For me, those are my dreams, my heart's desires down on paper with an action plan to achieve them in a way that's authentic to me. And is it a bad thing to stretch yourself, expecting more from yourself than you thought possible?

  3. Wow. This really had me thinking. I think I like the idea of "duty, responsibility, priority". Goals are over-reaching , but they seem elusive and abstract to me. A dute/responsibility can actually make me complete action steps...once I figure out what they are (because I am a baby in this and crawling at the pace of a turtle with its shell anchored to the ground with nails). Nice post and very much enjoying the blog.

  4. Yes, isn't that a great way to look at it? The "goal" then becomes something concrete...a must do.

    I like the following quote - another way of looking at the word and how to achieve it:

    "First, have a definite, clear, practical idea, a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; money, wisdom, materials and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end." Aristotle


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