If it’s good enough for JK Rowling… (on the Harry Potter trail in Edinburgh)

Little known fact about me: I spent my 20s researching ceremonial magic.

Will power. Conviction. Invincible belief in infinite possibilities.

I’ve grown a bit lazy and sometimes tend to get mired down in the small, daily tasks rather than the big picture goals – but it’s important (I believe) to have a future that’s exciting enough to fight for.

Since I’m in Edinburgh, one of the main sources of inspiration for Harry Potter, I bought myself a Harry Potter leather journal and am spending January First getting clear on my annual goals.

I don’t have the awesome crystal wand I bought in the Canary Islands with me last year, but I agree with Albus Dumbledore, “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

Interestingly, every Harry Potter personality test I’ve taken matches me with Draco Malfoy, and I can see why.

Slytherin are all about Resourcefulness and Ambition.

They’re about logic, reason, and Machiavellian plotting. They set long term goals and work towards them tirelessly. While Hufflepuff are too focused on the minutiae to see the big picture, and Gryffindor like Harry are full of passion and convictions about Good and Evil, Slytherin are willing to bend all rules to achieve their desires.

In fiction, the brave, blustering hero usually wins, often by accident or sheer perseverance – but rarely through intelligence.

People want to believe that good people will be rewarded with success, even if they’re not smart or particularly skilled.

And there is magic in that.

Often, you can set an impossible goal and believe in it hard enough, your circumstances and behavior will begin to align with the destination you’ve chosen. You’ll start to “see” shortcuts and actionable steps that were invisible before. Setting the goal is like unlocking a secret kind of enhanced vision where opportunities align as if by magic, if only you’re bold enough to seize them when they appear.

HOWEVER, in real life, this isn’t always enough, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.

For example, I want to publish a whole bunch of new books this year, and I want them to be amazing. I can’t wait around and hope that works out, because my goal depends on both skill and hard work – hundreds of hours of painstaking plotting, drafting, revising and publishing.

I may not have Gryffindor’s optimism that everything will work out for the best, but I do have Slytherin’s cynical realism, that I am capable of getting what I want, as long as I’m also willing to commit the time and effort. I need to spend years improving my craft, analyzing bestsellers, struggling with my muse, until I become one of the best writers or “most powerful magicians” of my time.

As I wrote in my PhD thesis, ambition isn’t evil. It’s human, and potentially the greatest thing about humanity – the desire to create, to improve, to enhance. The gift of seeing how things are and being able to imagine how they could be.

I’m not ashamed of my ambition – though it was once the sin that caused Lucifer to fall, it’s become the attribute that saved Faust’s soul. Ambition is the studious and hard-won self-improvement that makes real change possible, and I believe it’s a noble pursuit. I’ve spent the past 7 years dedicating myself to the principles I set forth in Creativindie, and things I only dreamed about several years ago are now starting to take shape. I can’t wait to see what I can achieve in the next few years, but I must stay true to the course, choose goals that are challenging enough to fill me with eagerness, and do the work.

Goals aren’t only about belief or magical thinking. Goals are the reason we choose to do something rather than nothing.

What are your 2018 goals and resolutions?

 

PS) While in Northern Scotland I heard some folklore that will probably help me plot Shearwater book two, which is one of 10 projects I’ll be working on this year.

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