One of the ways my ambition shows up is in always looking for better ways to manage myself: my ideas, my workspace, my time.
Which is why I'd say that a lionhearted writer is always looking for wisdom.
We're in this for the long haul. We want our writing to be good for us and for our readers. And navigating all that takes a bunch of wisdom.
Part of this means: appreciating the wisdom we already have. (Especially if we haven't been paying attention to it!)
But sometimes we need to look to the people who know and live this kind of stuff.
... Which is why I'm always gobbling down books and resources on how to be a better boss for myself!
The latest book I've read to improve my work life is The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte. (Shout out to the lionhearted Maria Rathje, for recommending this to me, back when we were talking about goals!)
This book took apart my whole approach to goal-making, showed me all the parts of thinking that go into a goal—
and then put everything back together the right way.
It's really cool. You'll love it.
So—just in case you're not automatically sold on this, why is it necessary? Aren't goals by themselves good enough?
Well, it's easy enough to come up with a bunch of good, solid goals based around what matters to us, right? To fill in the blanks with what we know we should be reaching for next.
... But have you ever felt like you're on a kind of goal treadmill? Coming up with automatic goals, that feel almost prepackaged?
Or have you ever worked really hard for something you knew you wanted, but the whole process of getting there was totally miserable?
Or maybe you got the thing you wanted and—and nothing. It wasn't as great as you'd hoped, or it wasn't what you thought, or you just felt off about it?
Yeah. Me too.
Enter The Desire Map.
Here's the premise. When we make goals, what we REALLY want to aim at is a state of being, or a way that we want to feel.
But in our usual goal-making process, those feelings aren't considered. So they're only partially represented in our goals.
Or, worse, they're not represented at all.
Which is how we end up with goals that don't make us so happy when we reach them. Or goals that somehow destroy us on the way to getting them.
Let's not do that anymore.
So, in The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte takes you through the process of creating, as she calls them, "goals with soul."
She helps you figure out what those states of being—she calls them core desired feelings—are for you.
And then—knowing what you really want to aim for, how you really want to feel during the process of reaching for your goals, how you really want to live—that's when you come up with a handful of intentions for the next year.
Like, four. (Not so many that you get overburdened.)
Four intentions that solidly reflect your core desired feelings.
And then you develop a process of going after those intentions, which honors your core desired feelings as well.
So, what does this have to do with our writing lives?
When you apply this to your writing goals and your writing life, your core desired feelings have a total, across-the-board impact.
Once you know what they are, you can bring them into the discussion of how you approach writing, the projects you spend your time on, and how you consider publication.
They can shape what your author brand is like, what you do with social media or blogging, and on, and on, and on.
Like I said before, it's too easy to fall into a goal that seems to be right, without considering deeper motivations.
It's so easy to think, I must PUBLISH this year or else burst into a thousand pieces. (That's me, by the way, during my last batch of New Year's Resolutions.)
There's nothing wrong with having publication as a goal!
But this book showed me that it's incredibly helpful to figure out what it is I want to feel about being published.
And when those feelings are what you're actually aiming at, the entire process of getting published reflects those feelings as well.
Which means that you feel awesome while stretching for a goal that will really make you feel amazing.
After going through the Desire Map process, you might find out that you want to publish because: you want to feel accomplished, or self-respect, or creativity.
Or maybe you want to publish to share truth, or love, or beauty, or laughter.
And when you realize what feelings are driving that desire to publish, you bring them into all the rest of your writing life:
How you start your day. How you manage your time. What books and voices influence you.
What you do with your breaks and your weekends. How you talk about your work. How you research.
All of it. All of it!
As Danielle LaPorte writes,
When you get clear on how you want to feel, the pursuit itself will become more satisfying.
Side note: Just knowing this about yourself is massively helpful in all other areas of your life as well.
It's becoming my habit whenever I'm having a tough day to use these core desired feelings as a kind of emotional reset.
All it takes is a quick second to ask yourself: Hey, wait: how is it that I REALLY want to feel?
Then you can take a few quick actions to generate some of your core desired feelings, and: instant mood upgrade.
Did I mention that this is helpful? SUPER helpful.
So if you've felt a disconnection between what you're writing and how you're writing it, or between what you're aiming for and how you're feeling about all that—
Then The Desire Map is the must-read that goes at the top of your reading pile.
Another quick quote from Danielle LaPorte for good measure:
The journey matters as much as the result.
SO TRUE, right??
An amazing writing journey is the game changer of game changers: Every writing day is as important as the writing goals you're aiming for.
So pick up The Desire Map and give it a whirl.
Be the wisest boss of your writing life that you can possibly be.
Learn to steer by what it is that you deep down really want—instead of importing goals that seem to be right, but which might let you down.
If you want to dive in with this way of thinking right now, check out this Danielle LaPorte interview for a quick-start version (and then get your hands on the book itself asap!).
Whatever you do, give a little thought to how you actually want to feel when you accomplish your goals. How you actually want to be in your writing life.
Not what you should want, but what you actually do want.
Illuminate what it is that you're really after, and then go get it: both in your intentions and how you get your intentions.
Sounds amazing, right?