A month from today, my biggest life goal will be realized: I will be the author of a book in stores and libraries and in the hands of readers. The journey has been magical and improbable. And it’s just one calendar sheet away.
I have been careful to mark the joys of it, often here with you. Because for years I trudged the cold streets of “no, sorry, it’s not quite what we’re looking for.” So to have come in out of that chill is beautiful and fulfilling. And yet sometimes I’m surprised by how much dissatisfaction laces the process.
I used to imagine that the fulfillment of a dream meant a quiet satisfaction would wash over me and that it would send me off to a rocking chair where I’d reflect with happiness for the rest of my days. And while it’s true that I do feel satisfaction, the fulfillment of this big goal has also created new, bigger goals… the next, better book, the right reviews, invitations to the right book fairs and conferences.
At first I felt ungrateful. Wasn’t this what I always wanted? Couldn’t I just be happy? But the more I thought about it, I realized that dissatisfaction can be crippling and negative, or it can be fuel. The difference is action. Dissatisfaction coupled with complacency slowly eats away at you. Mine is dissatisfaction with a plan.
It occurred to me that all great human accomplishment begins as dissatisfaction. The cave looks bare and needs a drawing of a buffalo. The cold feels bad so it’s time to figure out how to make fire. The things are hard to lug around so we figure out the wheel. Dissatisfaction sparks our thinking and makes us dream. And then we act.
So today I will be dissatisfied. I won’t be dissatisfied with what I’ve accomplished, which is great, but with what I’ve not yet accomplished, which is vast. And then I’ll roll up my sleeves.