I think Marie Forleo is hilarious and smart and engaging. She’s also built a very successful entrepreneur coaching business in a very short period of time. So when she talks about goal-setting, I tend to listen.

(If you don’t know who Marie is, don’t worry about it. I didn’t know who she was until a month ago, when I was trolling around the internet for some inspiration for taking my own writing career to the next step. And if you do know Marie, don’t worry. I’m not trying to sell you on her B-school. I’m not an affiliate, and I’ve never taken the course.)

I mention Marie today one of her funny and engaging videos inspired me to write this post. In it, she shares an exercise that she uses with her team. It’s the “Wouldn’t it be great if…?” game. The idea is to fill in the blank with something achievable. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could vacation in Hawaii?” “Wouldn’t it be great if I could take August off?” “Wouldn’t it be great if I could publish a book?”

Of course, in a five-minute video, Marie only shares the dreaming part of this process. There’s no time to dig into the nuts of bolts of making those things happen. (Besides, those nuts and bolts are what she’s selling. Girl’s got to make a living.) And yes, sometimes the dream alone is a critical first step. But I got to thinking — what about the how of getting these things done?

In other words, you have a goal — now what?

You know what I’m going to say, right? You’ve got to crunch the numbers. Going from dream to reality means putting a plan into place and taking teeny-tiny steps towards getting there. It means setting and monitoring measurable goals. And that means using some basic math. Take a look.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could vacation in Hawaii?

Unless you’re Donald Trump or you actually live in the Aloha State, this trip could feel like a pipe dream. It’s expensive. It can take a long time to get there.  Heck, the wardrobe! But the math is pretty simple. Do some research, set a budget and then figure out how to stash the cash.

Why not set a monthly savings goal — which could mean earning more or saving more — and track it in a spreadsheet? Multiply that amount by the number of months until your planned trip, and you’ve got the budget for your trip. Hey, you can even get the spreadsheet to do the work!

Wouldn’t it be great if I could take August off?

This is one of my goals this year. And the math is super-dooper easy. I just take my yearly income goal (you have one of those right?) and divide by 11, instead of 12. That gives me my monthly income goal. If I can earn that amount each month, I can spend August by the pool or working on house projects. The cool part is this: spreading August’s income to the other 11 months ends up being a pretty small amount. (Well, unless your income goal is seven figures or more.)

Let’s say my annual income goal is $60,000. If I divide by 12, I need to earn $5,000 each month. But if I divide by 11, I need to earn $5,454.55 each month. Heck, I’d probably round that up to $5,500 to give myself some cushion.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could publish a book?

I had this thought many, many years ago. And because of the times, I had to wait — wait until a publisher decided to take a chance on me. It happened, but here’s the really wonderful news: you don’t have to wait. The self-publishing industry has completely changed in the last several years. Whether you want to get your family’s history down in writing or publish the next Fifty Shades of Greypublishing can be almost completely within your control.

Again, you need a budget and a goal. Decide how much you want to spend on the cover, design and marketing. Then set your sales price and goals. Within 15 minutes or so, you will know what your best publishing options are (ebook, publish on demand or publishing all of the books at once), plus how much you can expect to earn in this endeavor.

Heck, math can even help you track your book-writing progress!

Look, this is no earth-shattering news here. But how often have you not pursued a dream because you weren’t sure of the outcome? Trust me. Sometimes a little bit of math is all you need to nail down the specifics. Don’t dream it. Be it.

What are your professional and personal dreams? Share them in the comments section. And don’t forget to mention how math might be able to help you actually reach them. 

Want more information on how math can help you become a better, more successful writer? Be sure to check out my latest book, Math for WritersIt’s for sale on Amazon.com!

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