A New Mission Statement (And a New Release Date)

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

-Dalai Lama

Taking a week off running proved somewhat helpful — a chance for my tight muscles to loosen up a bit. The last couple months of training for the upcoming half marathon had caught up with me, not surprising given how hard I’d been going at it — about 30 miles a week.  After running a 5-mile race the previous month at a 7:15/mile pace, I was determined to set a personal record in the upcoming half. It had been three years since this very race had resulted in my injury.

I was back. And ready to prove it.

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But even after those seven days off, some tightness remained. Okay, I thought, I still have a week; I’ll rest for another couple days to make sure I’m at my absolute best. And I had to be. I had to show the world that I’d regained all my strength; that I’d learned from the training mistakes I’d made previously. I was a different runner now… a different person…

Which is why after two more days of still feeling tight, I dropped out of the race.

It’s also why the release date for Girl Enlightened, originally planned for November 28th, is now February 27th.

My company has recently undertaken an initiative to encourage lifelong learning, and as a part of that, I participated this summer in a course called the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” As one of the first activities, we were asked to write up a mission statement: How do you want to live your life? What reflects your goals and your dreams; How do you want to impact others?

Unexpectedly the activity caused me pause. Yes, you heard that right: the person who can recite more quotes than the average 200-page inspirational book, who’s very blog contains its own “mission statement,” had trouble coming up with prose that emulated my direction in life.

Because so often the past three years, I’ve let my life direct me.

“Could my mission statement be ‘Let it Be?'” I asked, somewhat jokingly. But a colleague of mine countered, “why not?” After all, the concept of taking things as they come, learning, growing based on experience, has guided me these past three years. But it needed something more… and on that day I decided not to run the race this summer, I figured out what it was.

My mission… my mission statement is to Live Enlightened.

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To “become enlightened” has always been a major part of my life, especially the past decade. It’s the reason I love to travel — to learn about the world. It’s the reason I went to graduate school — to learn more about issues in the world I’m passionate about.

So what does it mean to “live enlightened?”

I published my first book on November 10th, 2011. I was ready to publish it about two years earlier, my anxiousness to tell my story growing by the day; but my editorand-then-it-rained and I spent a couple years revising the manuscript, adding scenes, characters, all things that helped to tell that story. After numerous back and forths, cuts, updates, and, well, edits, we eventually landed on a finished product… about 24 hours before we’d scheduled the book to hit Amazon.

The mistakes in the manuscript I found later were minor, easy for me and my editor to miss and certainly not ones that most casual readers would catch. But what bothered me then was that if I would’ve taken just a few more days to review the material one last time, my OCD-self would’ve caught them. Luckily, with an electronic book, taking that extra week or two after publishing did result in getting a revised copy out the door quickly. But the stress lingered… the stress of getting the book out by the deadline, of being under the gun, of making a updates to a published copy quickly to get the revised version in as many readers’ hands as possible.

5 years later, I wasn’t on a timeline, but I sure remembered having one. “We can make a November 28th release,” my same editor said, and I happily agreed. But I also told him I was okay if we had to wait. I knew both of our schedules were busy, and I didn’t need to rush.

A couple things popped up, including some great feedback from a couple of my beta readers. “Take your time,” he said, “Go ahead and address it. I only need two weeks to do my edit and we’ll get it out.”

“Are you sure?” I asked; And he said he was, but I mentally prepared myself for a change in date. November 28th would be great, but again, I didn’t want to rush it.

As it does, life finally threw enough wrenches in both of our paths that to get it out by November 28th would’ve meant another frantic midnight deadline — at best. The decision was clear. I calmly emailed my editor with two options:” We either publish on my dad’s birthday, January 27th, or February 27th, another date that’s incredibly special to me.”

“We don’t do January releases,” he emailed back, “But… February 27th is actually a scheduled released date for the company. All right Megan, let’s do it.”

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Anyone can receive a lesson, say “Oh that makes a lot of sense, I won’t do that again.” Or, “I’ll do better the next time, I’ll think harder the next time, I’ll make it easier on myself the next time.” But to actually put that lesson into practice? To proceed with your life in a new way that actually takes into account or builds off of what you’ve experienced?

That’s living enlightened.

There was a fleeting moment upon deciding to forgo that race this summer where I felt like a failure. I’d trained, I’d worked hard for the chance to say “Hey, look what I did!” And by dropping out, I felt like I’d given up.

But then I realized that by not running the race, I could say all of those things too. I’d trained..mentally; I’d worked hard for a new perspective on what was important in life, and that work and training led to as successful of an outcome as any: no injury. I’ve been able to continue to run these past five months since the race without any pain, and that makes me as proud as I would’ve been crossing that finish line.

As for Girl Enlightened?  You’ll be seeing it February 27th, and I hope you’re excited — because I sure am. I also hope you know that this date won’t move again. Because not only does it give me the time to prepare and present the story just as I want to, but as I said earlier, the date happens to be a pretty special one in terms of my sequel:

It’s the date I first declared I’d write one.

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