Bend author Marcia Morgan worked in law enforcement before becoming a national consultant specializing in gender and crime. During those 40 years, she discovered a common issue.

“There was a theme that really started resonating with me when I was talking with women in prison,” Morgan said. “Many of them had experienced what I came to term ‘dream drain.’ Either they didn’t have any goals in life, or didn’t think they deserved them. They were really in survival mode and just living day to day.”

When Morgan talked about this with her friends and colleagues, many of them said they experienced the same thing after they were married, had children or had a job they didn’t love. Women of all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels told Morgan life got in the way of pursuing their deeply held goals. So, she began leading workshops with groups ranging from prison inmates to housewives and corporate executives, focused on how to pursue those dreams.

Along the way, Morgan identified a new goal of her own: publishing a book that would share the process she had developed for helping women (and men) achieve their goals. It took nine years, but Morgan’s dream became a reality in November 2018 when her book, “GO! How to get going and achieve your goals and dreams at any age,” was published.

Morgan outlines a four-step process that combines research and motivational theories with Morgan’s concepts and ideas.

The process requires people to identify their goals and dreams, then narrow the focus to the most important. Next, collect items Morgan calls goal objects that physically represent the dreams. The third step is displaying the goal objects somewhere they will serve as frequent, tangible reminders. She calls this the GO! display. The final step is writing an action plan.

“I started looking at the research about what seems to work and combined three different concepts,” Morgan said.

Vision boards are good “but somewhat passive,” she said. Visualization is a good, positive reinforcer for the process and the outcome. “And then, the idea of home altars, or putting several things into one space, which gives it special prominence and energy.”

The idea of the GO! display arose from Morgan’s travels to different parts of the world where she became fascinated with the idea of home altars, which are usually created and maintained by women. These altars may be celebrating a birth, honoring a death or some other rite of passage.

“The GO! display is a fun and practical way to keep reminding yourself about your goals and stay focused,” Morgan said. For the same reason, she also recommends keeping the written action plan near the GO! display.

Morgan explained there is no right or wrong way to choose a goal object. One of her clients who dreamed of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro created a display of items in and around a hiking boot. A high school student who wanted to become a veterinarian took a divided dog dish and displayed coins in one side to represent the money she needed to save or earn through scholarships and grants. Small ceramic animals were displayed in the other side, while index cards with key steps from her action plan were arranged among the other items.

“GO!” includes sample action plans and fill-in-the-blank style templates that are easy for readers to use. There’s also discussion about some of the common barriers faced by many people, but particularly women, when trying to pursue a goal.

“Perfectionism and fear of failure can be big impediments,” Morgan said. “In our society, men are still socialized to take more risks while women are socialized to be perfect. Another issue for women is how to prioritize our time. Women often look at goals as being zero sum and feel they have to choose between their own aspirations and those of their loved ones. So, they prioritize the needs of their family over personal goals.”

Due to her other work and personal commitments, it took Morgan nine years to complete “GO!,” but she found the final two years when she was trying to get the book published, the most challenging.

“I had to face a lot of rejections before I found a publisher,” Morgan said. “My GO! display right next to my computer kept reminding me of how much I’d put into it and helped me stick with it.”

Morgan connected with her eventual publisher, The Publishing Circle, through her membership in the Central Oregon Writers Guild.

“It’s been a really good partnership and a good fit,” Morgan said. She plans to focus on promoting the book for the next year or so. After that, writing another book is a possibility.

“I have a couple of ideas in the back of my mind, so we’ll see,” Morgan said.