As I talked about yesterday, it’s the time of year for people to set goals and resolutions for the year. As we all know most people don’t achieve their goals, even some of them. I mentioned that I think one of the reasons is that people do not spend enough time on the plans needed to achieve those goals. They know the destination, but have no idea on how they will get there.
Today, I want step back and take a look at another reason people fail to achieve their goals for the year. It think it also has a lot to do with where they start the process at. Many times in the past I have done my goal setting by looking at the prior year and seeing what I have failed to accomplish. That was the starting point for what evetually became a retreat list of failures. We don’t usually think of them this way, but if we start by looking at what we didn’t accomplish, it’s pretty hard to not think of them that way some of the time.
Make no mistake, there’s nothing wrong with including goals from last year in this year’s list. It’s how they get there that is important.
If we start by looking instead at our successes for the prior year, we can guage how far we moved toward our ultimate vision of how we want to live. Sure, you may not have a lot of successes sometimes, but that’s OK. It’s going to happen to people sometimes. Most of the time we can find something that we’ve done to move forward.
Once we’ve acknowledged our successes, we do NOT look at the list of things we didn’t accomplish. Instead we look at where we want to be in the future. We then measure how far away we are from that and determine what we can do this year to get closer. What actions can we take which will stretch us, but give us a reasonable chance of achievement? What can be done to build on where we are to get us where we want to be?
This change in focus has a huge impact. We begin with a positive focus in several stages that may have been dealt with in a negative mindset in prior years. Our year end review is about progress, not what wasn’t done. When we look to the future, we measure how much closer we are, not how far we still have to go. When we create our goals, they are about getting us closer, not just pulling forward things we didn’t get done. We don’t take our failures (whether or not we think of them as failures) with us into the new year.
All of this combines in a way to keep us positive, future facing and recognizing our successes while we move ahead.