Near the end of Harry Potter book three, Harry saves himself along with his friend Hermione and his godfather Sirius by managing a complicated and difficult bit of magic. Harry has travelled back in time, where he stumbles upon his past self and loved ones in harm’s way – about to be destroyed by the ghastly dementors. Transfixed by the terrible scene, time-travelling-Harry recalls having seen a shadowy, strangely familiar figure cast the spell that repelled the dementors and saved himself and his friends. Suddenly it dawns on Harry that the familiar figure he’d seen was actually himself. So he does something he’s never been able to do before – conjures a Patronus spell strong enough to drive away over a hundred hungry dementors. When she hears of it, Hermione is stunned:
“‘I can’t believe it…You conjured up a Patronus that drove away all those dementors! That’s very, very advanced magic….’
‘I knew I could do it this time,’ said Harry, ‘because I’d already done it.’”
Harry manages it because he’d seen himself do it before.
I wish I could catch a glimpse of the future me, right now, holding the published Saltwater Twin in my hands. Then I would know I can do it. Nevertheless, despite my inability to see the future, I’m trying to believe unwaveringly that this thing I want will come to be.
I’ve been looking up goal setting. It’s a popular topic on the web, which is rife with self-help articles that purport to offer ten steps to this or eight ways to that. I’m not fond of the word “goal” itself; it smacks of sports or business. So, I looked it up. It actually derives from the Middle English gol or boundary. I can appreciate that image: something marking the edge of a region, an invisible line that, crossed over, leads to uncharted territory. Still, the business of setting goals overwhelms me. I’m afraid I’ll fail to reach them, which will make me feel like a liar or lazy or delusional, all unpalatable options.
One of the big things the life coaches and business coaches and coaching coaches talk about is faith, the steadfast belief you’ll succeed at what you set out to do. One fellow went so far as to write that if you don’t believe you can get what you want, then don’t even bother setting goals. That’s a tall order. And a little discouraging – in that case, imperfect believers like me are doomed from the start.
Another thing the goal gurus recommend: make yourself accountable. Tell others your intention, put it out there so you’ll have to follow through. So, here goes: I’m setting a goal. I will finish The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures in six months, by end of March 2014. I’ll have been blogging here about the process for two years and working on it for a good year before that. As of today, I’ve written eleven chapters. I have between five and nine more to go. I’m working on the working part – sitting down to write, revise, write. I’m working on the faith part, imagining that future me, having accomplished the thing I want to do. And if you’re willing, send me your good thoughts, crossed fingers, prayers – clap for this book like Tinker Bell.
Anyone else want to set a six (or eight or twelve) month goal? Who’s up for some very advanced magic?