In this, my fortieth year, I have come to appreciate in deeper ways wisdom that while clichéd is absolutely true. Enjoy the journey, not the destination. Do what you need for yourself—nobody can do it for you. Celebrate the little victories.
Writing Astrid's first draft has been a journey, and I have loved it. So when I hit the hard-won goal of 80,000 words, I decided it was time for a celebration. I walked into Dairy Queen one evening after work and picked out an ice cream cake—one of my favorite things.
“Could you personalize my cake please?” I asked the woman behind the counter.
“Sure, what would you like it to say?”
“I know this is going to sound crazy, but I'd like you to put the number 80,000 on it. I've just written 80,000 words of a book and I want to celebrate.”
“Sure. What color icing would you like?”
The next day at work I sent an e-mail inviting my co-workers and a handful of colleagues from other areas to join me in the afternoon for ice cream cake. They had offered so much encouragement and cheerleading through the process. Sharing this cake and personal celebration was my way of saying thank you. I was blown away by their attendance. I had inadvertently picked a really busy time for the celebration, and yet people came to congratulate me any way.
I brought my notebook with the printed draft and placed it on the counter. Proof of my efforts. A friend took over the cake cutting and another assumed the role of making sure every one got a piece so that I could talk with my guests. I received repeated requests to read a passage from the book. When I had confirmed that this group of encouraging people really wanted to hear something and were not just flattering me, I hopped up on the counter and began to read.
I was nervous and felt a little vulnerable, but I read any way. There was so much love and encouragement in the room that I felt safe to put myself out there. My passage was well received.
As the crowd returned to their work and I cleaned up the sticky mess of the yummy cake, I wondered, “Was this a little out there to have put on a celebration for myself?” And then I began to realize that in celebrating my achievement I was role-modeling how to set a goal and achieve it—something we adults lose sight of when there are jobs and mortgages, kids and stress. I am a firm believer that the pause and celebration at the end of one milestone is an important part of the process before moving on to the next big goal. I had set a big, hairy, audacious goal, and then met it. Of course it should be celebrated. I wasn't going to wait around for someone to suggest the idea because no one would have. And in celebrating my own achievement, I was granting permission to others who might have a big goal they want to achieve. This is how it can be done. Just Do it! Celebrate it! Make another goal! Repeat.