Achieving GoalTopia: A chat with Debra Eckerling, author of “Your Goal Guide”

One of my go-to Twitter chats is Debra Eckerling’s #GoalChat (which everyone should totally check out). When she mentioned her forthcoming work on goal setting on the chat in 2019, I immediately knew an author interview and book feature was on my blogging horizon.

I spoke with Eckerling in January, just before the publication of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals.

A writer has to be creative and entrepreneur; an entrepreneur has to be a writer and creative; and a creative needs to be a writer and entrepreneur. Which is exactly what Your Goal Guide is marketed for!  —Debra Ecklering


What prompted you to write this book?

I started leading goal-setting and productivity groups at Barnes & Noble after college, relaunched them in Los Angeles [in the early 2000s] and then over the years it become this hybrid of live group and online support. Somewhere along the line, people started asking me to coach them.

My business background is communications and project management and everything that I do [contains] one or both of those elements, so I started doing workshops and was one-on-one coaching. For example, someone who [struggled to complete] their book for several years – and working with me finished it in three months!

If you can’t figure out your goals in your head, you need to do the work to figure out what you want and then … plan how you’re going to get it.

Also, this book has been in my head for years!

You’ve written other books, correct?

Yes, all self-published. The first was Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages (2014); someone asked me to coach her daughter, who wasn’t getting enough creative inspiration in school – to do what I do for adults for her daughter. So I started a Purple Pencil Adventures blog.

I got to the point where I was coaching people on writing books, and I wanted to write a book! That’s how Purple Pencil came about. I wrote my second book, Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog (2016) because I’m a firm believer in the power of the blog. I was born to blog because I’ve always written like I talk, and I felt that would be a great way to get information out there.

I also did a survey [during the process of writing Write On Blogging] so the examples are from real bloggers, not powerful, big names. They’re examples that [readers] can relate to.

[The D*E*B Method] is for people who need to make a change by choice or circumstance. Usually that change is a career change or job change, grow or start a business or side-hustle, become a known expert, or achieve work-life balance. Those are the four paths I talk about in the book.  —Debra Ecklering

Explain the origin of “The D*E*B Method,” which forms the core of Your Goal Guide.

Almost two years ago, my primary client was outsourcing what I did to someone else. I had to make a change; [that] change was making a decision to go all-in on the goal coaching.

Around the same time, my mom – who follows #GoalChat – suggested I use “DEB Goals” … [which] totally works for what I teach because:

  • D = Determine your mission;
  • E = Explore your options;
  • B = Brainstorm your path.

I got this brilliant idea and started playing with The D*E*B Method as a brand. Another reason I [developed the concept] is because when you say Write On Online, some people say “I’m not a writer!” The D*E*B Method really takes into account all the major possibilities for a career path.

Provide readers with a brief overview of Your Goal Guide.

It’s a road trip theme. The first half of the book is setting up your road trip [by taking] the reader through The D*E*B Method. Determine where you want to go, Explore different destinations, Brainstorm your route.

The second half [contains] tips for success … a successful trip, car maintenance and troubleshooting.

My GoalTopia is helping people finding THEIR GoalTopia!  —Debra Ecklering

I love the “GoalTopia” concept. How do your readers achieve GoalTopia within the framework of The D*E*B Method?

Debra Eckerling

I made up this word for my book!

Even if you know what your goals are, you should go through the “D” to determine your mission because the first step is to visualize. When you close your eyes and think about what you want, what does that look like? What is your “GoalTopia”?

Then you need to look at your starting point: what is your current bio, what is your future bio. Because you need to take an inventory of where you went versus where you want to go, because you’ll see what tools you have versus what you’ll need.

[Next is] the mission statement. That’s why I always have missions and mottos as the first #GoalChat of the year, because you need a focal point. You need to know what you want, why you want it, and how it helps others. That’s the driving force, that’s the gas that gets your car to the destination.

Once you have your mission, you need to create a short motto, something to use as a compass in making your decision. For example, if someone asks me to speak, I weigh that. My motto is “goal-setting simplified.” Everything that I do involves goal-setting, simplifying life, and if [another action or goal] falls out of that realm it’s got to fulfill me in another way – that’s why the motto is important.

Even if you think you know your GoalTopia, going through … that first bit of introspection [in Your Goal Guide will] help everything make so much more sense because it’s your starting point. And that’s what the book is! It’s designed for introspection to help you really consider all of the options.

So once you come up with your mission, you have to think about the options and do the research to figure out what you want to do first, and then brainstorm your path. There are also different exercises to map out the different points.

From the moment I said, “OK this is my path,” everything fell into place. I mean, who gets a book published a year after their first conversation?  —Debra Ecklering

Your other books are self-published. How did you come to use a publisher for Your Goal Guide?

I love this story – [essentially] I re-met an agent!

One of the women in my live groups … [told a] book agent at a networking event about my group [and] connected us. I figured out that I met the agent before because he spoke at a workshop I attended! After discussing my two self-published books and the upcoming one, [our conversation went something like this]:

Book Agent: “What is your objective [in the new book]?”
Debra: “I believe everybody deserves to be happy in some of, if not all of, their life. What my book does is help people come up with their own plan, figure out what they want and how to get there. And even if it’s an hour a week working towards something, you’ve got that hour a week as something that you’re really excited about and that can fuel you for the rest of the time.”
Book Agent: “If that’s your plan, you shouldn’t self-publish. Let me try to sell your book. Where’s your book proposal?”
Debra: “I have an older incarnation that doesn’t have my current branding.”
Agent: “Great, do you want me to give you a deadline?”
Debra: “Sure”
Agent: “How about two weeks.”

So I rewrote the proposal, sent it to him, and two-and-a-half hours later he called and said, “When do you want to meet?”

After one minor revision, he sent the book proposal out in two batches; after the second batch my publisher, Mango, expressed interested. It’s very exciting to me because Mango is a wonderful, up-and-coming publisher that focuses on innovative ideas and fresh voices. It’s even listed on Publishers Weekly’s 2019 list of “Fast-Growing Independent Publishers.”

Would you like to share other details about Your Goal Guide, or anything else percolating?

Right now my primary focus is getting this book in as many hands as possible, because I know it can help a lot of people. The book is needed – everybody has something going on in their life that is not quite right. At least one, right? Do you know anyone whose life is perfect?

There’s always something you can do to bring more happiness, fulfillment [into your life]. Or, maybe your life is a mess because of some external or internal force; you can use the book to say: “I may be having all these problems, but what is the one thing, the one personal goal I can put in my life to bring at least a little joy into it.”

And this is another thing! You and I met through Twitter. How cool is that? And here you are interviewing me. That’s the power of the age in which we live. We can basically do anything we want because the resources are out there. It’s just … figuring out what that is, and putting in the time and energy to make it happen. Maybe it’ll take a little bit of time, maybe it’ll take a long time – but if you’re working toward something, [anything is] possible.

Your Goal Guide Links
Mango Publishing’s Debra Eckerling page:

Debra Eckerling Websites
The D*E*B Method:
Write On Online:

Debra Eckerling on Social Media
Twitter, including #GoalChat: @GoalChat, @TheDEBMethod, @WriteOnOnline

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s