April 2012

Are you still smarting from not winning the Mega Millions a few weeks back? I know I am. I buy a ticket every Friday, figuring it’s worth the dollar to hedge my bets in case my other work doesn’t pay off.  No one ever wins the lottery without playing, and you can’t win at the game of life without playing either, because if you don’t put yourself out there, you are guaranteed not to win. Now imagine you hesitate to buy a lotto ticket because you’re afraid of not winning. Sounds ridiculous, I know, because the odds are so small that you actually will, and yet the fear of failure in life so often paralyzes us to the point that we’re afraid to even try. A one dollar investment in a lotto ticket seems reasonable, but here’s another tool for you to try for free and it just might lead to something big for you.

When I signed up for Christine Kloser’s Transformational Author Experience, I had the benefit of listening to more than twenty experts speak about writing, publishing and marketing. One of those speakers was Marc Allen, the co-founder of New World Library, a publisher known for New Age books by Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, among many others.  Marc’s topic that day was traditional publishing, and he demystified the subject in an irreverent and totally relaxed way. Marc does just about everything in an easy and relaxed manner, and during that hour he laid out his admittedly biased views of Big Publishing, calling it a production line business that hurts writers and ends up orphaning books because of its revolving door culture with the editors who champion books. By this time I had already decided that I was going to self-publish, so Marc just affirmed this decision for me, but at the end of his talk, I wanted more of what Marc had to say so I bought The Millionaire Course, a book he published in 2003.

But let me back up a little…in the beginning of 2011, just after I left my corporate gig, I had a dream that I was all dressed up for work (in a pencil skirt!) and ready to go, but to my horror, when I pulled out my keys, they were broken off.  In the dream, I thought “well, I’m screwed” but then a man appeared who said he could help me with the problem. I never saw who it was; I simply had a knowing that a voice of authority would help me with the keys.  Months later…

My copy of The Millionaire Course arrives in the mail. I love the way the book feels and looks, its crisp green cover, just the right trade paperback shape, and of course, the most perfect marketing title ever created.  How can you resist a book called The Millionaire Course? Well, I couldn’t. Eagerly I opened the book and began reading the introduction where Marc gives the reader the background of his own life and why he wrote this book.  I am literally on page two when I read, “This book is filled with keys,” and suddenly that dream came flashing back.  I devour the book like candy over the next week.  This book really is full of keys, more than 160 of them, and Marc incorporates them into the three hundred pages that lay out his plan in detail (he also offers a shortened plan for artists with short attention spans) but here is the basic framework:

The first step is to visual your ideal scene, or in other words, your fantasy life. The sky is the limit here as you think about how you want to live your life, the kind of person you want to be, how you want your relationships to work, and the kind of work you want to do (hint: you love to do it). The simplest question to ask yourself is if money were no object, what would you do? Don’t dream too small here. Have fun with this part.

The next step is to take your idealized scene and identify the goals within it.  List them out. For instance, one of my goals is to be a successful published author.

Step three is to take your goals and rewrite them as positive statements or affirmations.  The statement should be active and in the process of happening, so my affirmation is I am now succeeding as a published author.

The last step is to make a simple written plan for each goal, just a short one page plan that spells out your mission (highest reason for doing it), goals (steps you intend to take), and strategies (steps you will take). For my goal as a successful published author, I listed this strategy: Publish a book. This last part about the plan is important to get down in writing, because to build anything, you need a design, and this gives you the blueprint for your success. When you write it down, it automatically becomes more real.

I know this all sounds absurdly simple, but you’d be surprised by the results you get just by thinking through your fantasy life and breaking it down into actual goals. It allows you to think about your pie-in-the-sky stuff in a very tangible way. After you begin to re-train your brain by telling yourself what is possible, and then take the necessary steps that you’ve detailed in your one page plan, you can’t help but move closer to the life that you want to live. Yeah, it won’t happen overnight, but the life you have now didn’t happen overnight either.

Think about what you want, break it down into actionable steps that you can take, and then start doing it.  One step in front of the other, at whatever pace you can manage, and believe me, you will either end up transforming your life, or you will reconsider what you thought you actually wanted. Either way, you’ve got clarity.

I have to admit I am not a millionaire yet, but I’ve made amazing progress in the direction of my goals and dreams. This book gave me a roadmap to follow and I’m still walking the yellow brick road. So this Friday, go ahead and buy a lotto ticket, but invest in yourself by getting clear on what you really want and what the steps are to get there.  All you need to do is just begin. Get it down on paper. Start making it real. Play to win.