I’m not a resolutions person. It seems that too often I make a resolution at the beginning of the year to do something big, set it aside, and never look at it again. For me, resolutions are passive because I don’t act on them.
I prefer goals. For me, goals are active. First there is goal-planning and then developing strategies for goal-implementation. Goals, or at least strategies, are also active in that they are fluid. They change. If one strategy doesn’t work, I try something different. If many strategies don’t work, then I look at whether I need to change the goal.
The important thing, of course, is that we accomplish what we want. If making resolutions work for you, great. If goals work better for you, that is great as well. Do whatever works for you to make 2018 the year you want.
I recently attended my 40th high school reunion. During a conversation with a friend since elementary school (not an old friend—neither of us are old!) I was reminded of something one of the high school guidance counselors told me many years ago. He explained it differently than I will here, but the concept is the same. (Since we were face to face, he could talk with his hands as well. That doesn’t work so well in a blog.)
Imagine a vertical line. Near the top of the line is point A. Around the middle is point B. Near the bottom is point C. He said that he would rather see students aim for point A and only achieve point B than to aim for point C and achieve it. Even if they don’t achieve point A, by achieving point B they will have achieved more than if they settled for point C from the beginning.
At the time, I couldn’t begin to realize how important that concept is. At least I grasped enough that it encouraged me to go for a bachelor’s degree rather than an associate degree after graduating high school.
I hate to admit it, but there have been times in my life when I did not try for point A because I did not think I could make it. Sometimes I aimed for point B and got it, but sometimes I settled for point C when I could have done more had I aimed higher.
Have you done this? Are you doing this now? Could you achieve more if you aimed higher than you thought you could achieve? What could your life be like if you did?
Do you have things on your to do list that have been there for weeks? Months? Longer? If so, may I make a suggestion? Either do them today or take them off the list. If you haven’t done them by now, what makes you think you are ever going to do them? Plus, if they haven’t been done by now, they must not be that important.
Keep in mind that a to do list is not the same thing as bucket list of things to do before you “kick the bucket.” It might take a long time to accomplish some of the things on your bucket list. It’s good to keep that list to keep you motivated to accomplish those things.
A to do list is not the same as your long-range goals and corresponding plans, either. Those, too, can take a long time to accomplish.
However, for your daily or weekly to do list, I’m sure there are things that you can safely delete if they have been there far longer than a day or week. Clean up your to do list so that you can focus on the important items.
Although we usually think of planning as starting at the beginning and finishing at the end, it can be beneficial to start with the end and continue backwards to the beginning.
Most of us probably do this frequently in small ways. For example, to determine when we need to get up in the morning to get to work on time, we might plan something like this:
I start work at 8:00, so…
I need to arrive at work at 7:45 to park the car, punch in, etc. to be on the job by 8:00.
It takes 45 minutes to drive to work, so I need to leave home at 7:00.
It takes 90 minutes to get ready and take care of the pets, so I need to get up at 5:30.
However, it’s snowing, the roads will probably be bad in the morning, so I need to allow an extra 30 minutes to drive to work. I need to set the alarm for 5:00.
This process can also be beneficial for our large dreams and goals, especially if they are very specific.
For example, if someone wanted to design motorcycles for a specific company, good information to obtain could be:
Is this an entry level position? If not, what entry level position can lead to the desired position? What advancement is necessary within the company?
What experience is required to be hired by the company? How can it be obtained?
What education/degree is required? Where do most of these graduates attend college?
What needs to be done to be accepted into that college and that degree program?
What needs to be done to be able to attend that college? (For example, would it require moving? Financial assistance?)
The plan, of course, would include the details on how to make this work. Additional questions might include the following. Would an internship meet the experience requirement and could that be completed during college? If the person is in high school, what classes could she take and what grades would she need to be accepted to the college? If she is already in the workforce, can some of her work experience assist her in being accepted to the college? Are there classes she needs to take before she will be accepted either into that college or into that program? What financial assistance is available? What support, if any, will she need from family?
The next time you need to plan something, try planning backwards and see if it helps you develop a better, more detailed plan.
Many people make New Year’s resolutions. Many of those who make resolutions do not achieve them.
I think one reason is that many of us do not learn from the old year. What did we do? Why did we do it? Did our decisions and actions achieve the results we wanted? If not, what could we have done differently? What worked, what didn’t? What have we learned?
If you truly want to achieve your goals for 2017, I suggest you first think very strongly and clearly about 2016. Use that knowledge to develop goals and plans for 2017.
To ride a bicycle, we must keep peddling. If we don’t, the bike stops. It’s possible to coast for awhile and keep moving without peddling, but that doesn’t last for very long. Life is like that. We must keep moving toward our goals or we never reach them. Although it’s sometimes possible to “coast” for a bit, we don’t make as much progress and before long we have to “peddle” again just to keep moving.
An important aspect of riding a bike is maintaining our balance. If we don’t stay balanced, we fall. We need to stay balanced in our lives as well. Different aspects of our professional and personal lives take more time and attention on some days than others. The important thing is that overall our life is balanced and we make time for what is important to us, including ourselves.
When we are riding a bike and fall off, we get up, brush ourselves off, and start peddling again. When life knocks us down, we need to do the same thing—get back up and start moving toward our goals again.
I like dogs, or, more accurately, I like dogs I know and I don’t dislike dogs in general. I’m more of a cat person. I can appreciate, though, how dogs get distracted by the smallest things, such as squirrels. No matter what the dog is doing, a squirrel shows up, and boom—she’s off chasing it. (Okay, cats are basically the same. We just can’t see some of the things that distract them.)
Unfortunately, we humans often “chase squirrels” as well. We can easily become distracted from what we need to do to achieve our goals. Little things constantly come up, and boom—we’re off chasing them.
If we want to achieve the professional and personal life that we want, it is important that we stay focused on our goals and ignore the “squirrels” that constantly chatter at us. It’s acceptable to tell people “no.” It’s acceptable to let unimportant things slide. And although some squirrels are fun to chase, does doing so help you reach your goals?
Are you a squirrel chaser? Could you achieve more if you ignored those darn squirrels?
2015 is completed. It’s over. Did you do what you wanted? Did you accomplish what you planned? Did you position yourself to be where you wanted for 2016?
If yes, congratulations! That is fantastic!
If no, then take what you can learn from it and move on. That’s all any of us can do. It’s a waste of time to moan about it or berate ourselves for it. Decide what you can do differently this year and do it.
What do you need to do in 2016 to position yourself to where you want to be in 2017? 2020? 2030? Setting goals for the upcoming year is great. But to really climb to where we want to be in life, we need to plan further out. If you want to finish a degree in five years, what do you need to do this year to make it happen? If you want to retire in ten years, what do you need to do this year to make it happen?
What do you need to do this year, next year, and the next, to achieve the life you want?
When we travel, we need a road map. We need a plan to tell us how to get from where we are to where we want to go. We also need road signs. The signs tell us where we are. By comparing the signs to the map we know where we are and what we need to do to get to where we want to go. If the signs tell us that we are somewhere that we did not plan to go, then we know we need to do something to get back on our route.
In our lives, we also need maps and signs. Our maps are our plans—where do we want to go, what do we want to accomplish, how do we get there? The “signs” are those indicators that tell us if we are moving toward our goals or not. For example, are we meeting our sales objectives for the week, month, and quarter? Are we meeting our objectives for contacting new customers? Are we meeting our profit objectives for the period?
Our objectives might also be personal objectives. Are we saving the planned amount each week for a major purchase? Have we made reservations for a vacation? Are we spending the time we had planned with family or friends?
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be very easy to continue to “drive” without checking the “signs” when it comes to our professional and personal lives. Just because we are busy does not mean that we are any closer to our goals. We might just be driving in circles.
Do you routinely check the “signs” that indicate where you are in relationship to where you want to go?
It is 2015, another new year. Have you made your goals and plans for this year? Have you done anything to accomplish them yet? Are you doing even one thing differently this year than you did last year to achieve what you want this year?
It is easy to get excited about another new year, about the things that we will do this year that we have not done before. The difficulty is in carrying out the plans. We still have all the day-to-day commitments and tasks that we did a week or two ago. Nothing has changed, except the number on the calendar. Nothing will change, if we do not change.
Most people do not accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. Do not be one of them! Commit now, implement your plans now, to achieve the professional and personal success you want in 2015.