Why Shoot for the Moon?

I only have one goal. Right now, it is to sell 100,000 books. I’ve had this goal for about 18 months, and I’ve come just over 1% of the way. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

When I chose to make books the focus of my career, I thought about what would be a good number of books to sell – a number that would make it feel real and give me confidence in saying, “Yes, I’m a full-time author. This is my calling, and here’s the proof.”

100? Too little. 1,000? At today’s royalties, that might be $3,000-$5,000. Not quite a full-time salary on an annual basis. How about 10,000? Now we’re getting somewhere! That could be $30,000-$50,000.

With the readership I’m grateful to have built so far, I could probably sell that many copies if I tried really hard. But that’s the problem: I’d have to hassle every single person I know for months, relentlessly spam my audience, and probably burn a lot of goodwill I’ve accumulated over the years. Is 10,000 books worth becoming an annoying broken record? Probably not.

Well, let’s add another zero: 100,000. Phew. That sounds intimidating. I have no idea if I can pull this off. There’s definitely no basis for it. Nothing about where I am right now indicates that, “Yes, this is doable.”

So how could I achieve this? After much deliberation, it seems the only way is writing a stellar book – a book that sells itself. Unless people gift, recommend, and talk about the book ad nauseam with their friends, there’s no way I’m selling that many – and that’s exactly the kind of filter I need.

Choosing a big goal way out of our comfort zone keeps us honest. It obliterates bias, gimmicks, and short-term thinking. It ensures we try something new and try our best – that if we achieve the goal, we’ll achieve it the right way. Plus, even if we fail, we’ll have failed originally, and the result might still be better than what we’d otherwise have considered a gold medal. 50% of 100,000 is still five times more than 10,000.

We shoot for the moon not because our egos are big but because doing so keeps our egos small. When you shoot for the moon, you only get one shot.

Pick the goals that keep you who you are while forcing you to evolve. Even if you miss the moon, you’ll have taken a trip among the stars.