Real-Time Distribution Case Study, Week 50: Impossible Goals

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Giving up on a goal is completely different than not achieving a goal. Neither are as bad as we tell ourselves.

Not achieving a goal means persisting even while coming up short. It means receiving gifts of growth and learning whose value may even surpass the original goal.

When a goal is quit, it’s the goal’s fault not the player’s. The goal is either misaligned, ill-defined, arbitrary or uninspiring.

Hence it all comes down to clarity.


When I finished the 30-week blog in September, feeling directionless and panicked, I tried to start another challenge the very next week.

I wasn’t ready, and I gave up in a few days.

The new challenge didn’t feel right. It didn’t have clarity or alignment. Nor did it possess that tell-tale tug or the fluttering in my stomach that both scares and nudges me.

What I really needed was to rest and integrate learnings from the summer.


They tell you how to write goals:


Looking back at goals I’ve achieved, it’s likely they fit these models, but I rebel against their neat little boxes of letters and tasks.

BHAGS is close, but I want:

a goal arising from purpose and alignment

or forget it
i’d rather just hang out on the couch all day
which i am prone to do


Every morning, I review a profile of our audience, the individuals we choose to serve.

In business they say: choose an audience and serve them.

I’d never quite understood how to do this until I met our audience on tour…

Now I finally get it — being completely connected to serving an audience (and one you like) makes goal-setting easier… when I’m writing or when I’m marketing.


My impossible goal?

Sell one million copies of Phoenix, Oregon to its audience by Aug 1, 2020.

Some may argue that if I use the term impossible, I invite that reality.

But the alternate descriptor, “stretch”, holds little meaning to me and feels boring.

I love “impossible”. It invokes determination, fight, “why not?” and questions.

Questions such as these:

  • What makes the goal impossible (today)?
  • What current circumstances, resources, objectives make it impossible?
  • Can those variables be changed so that the goal becomes possible?
  • What would it take to make the goal possible?
  • Who do I need to become to lead the team to “possible”?
  • What additional resources would it take for it to be possible?

Now those are good questions. Exciting questions. Questions which make the goal and the challenge sound fun and worth working towards.

As each question is asked, there is opportunity to refine the goal with the advantage of clarity gained from working through the answers.


I love the structure of this goal, because embedded within it are meaningful questions which are interesting to explore and which will incite learning and growth:

Sell | 1 million | copies | of Phoenix, Oregon to | its audience by | Aug 1, 2020.

Sell — what does it mean to “sell”? What systems, distribution channels, giveaways, discounts, and partnerships need to be in place to efficiently & effectively sell?

One million — how many is that? Is it meaningful or arbitrary? How could revenues from multiple channels sum up to this number? What will it take?

Copies — What is a copy? A ticket, dvd, download, stream? Which format is most valuable, accessible, and impactful to the film’s audience?

Its audience — Who is the audience? How do we get the film to its niche audience? How do we best serve this audience? How can we help this audience feel seen & heard?

Aug 1, 2020 — What needs to happen today, this week, this month, in six months to have enough momentum to achieve our goal by this date?

As a whole — How would meeting this goal impact our audience, our team, the industry, future projects? How would meeting this goal help us better serve our audience now and in the future?


As we work through these questions, the challenge feels huge — for awhile. And then the pieces start to break down and make sense as we tackle each question, one at a time.

Day-dreaming, problem-solving, planning, and all the while asking: what would it take; what will it take?

And then taking action on one small whisper…

What will I do today?

♡ Annie

Photo by Edu Grande on Unsplash


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