Don’t Let Your Goals Slow You Down
Sounds crazy, right? But if you’re like me, and a lot of people I’ve talked to, the combination of the rush of endorphins from planning or setting goals for your coming year, followed by real life slapping you in the face and scattering your carefully-made plans to the four winds, can leave you feeling like you’re stuck in mud that’s all-too-familiar.
The key to victory is in how you and I face that, and that’s what I’m writing about today. Mostly, I’m telling my story, but I’ve learned that many successful people have walked this familiar trail, too. They conquered it, which gives me permission to “fail forward”, as my friend Stan Tyler likes to say. I’m passing that permission on to you. Let’s dig in some more.
By the way, I included the image of Brian Tracy’s wonderful book, “Goals”, because it’s one of my favorite books. Here’s a handy resource page with more.
New Year, Now What?
It’s January 15th. How are your goals going? How are your New Years resolutions going? How about your plans for 2016 that you spent all that time on?
If you’re like me, and a lot of others, these questions can make you feel guilty. The crush of starting the new year, new month, and then finishing out the second full week of the month brings me to the shocking realization that I’ve actually lost focus on those nice, shiny goals I worked so hard to plan. In the past, this was a complete defeat, and would actually put me in a state worse than if I had not planned any goals at all. “Here we go again, not getting anything done”, my mind would say.
That’s the important thing to understand, that most of what holds you back, and me, too, are our own thoughts; how we process “victory” and “defeat” is powerful. If, like me, you have never really conquered the “goals monster”, then you don’t know what consistent victory in this area looks like. I didn’t. I keep pointing back to giving myself permission, and I’m doing it again. Give yourself permission to not get it all right the first time.
What do you Expect?
“Expectation Management” is a big deal in the process of serving customers in any business. It’s also big when dealing with your own beliefs. Do you actually expect to set your goals, and then everything just falls into place with no effort and no “missing the mark”? I think we can all agree that this is not a reasonable expectation, but I find myself behaving as if it is. This is what produces the guilt; if that’s my expectation, and this pile of what feels like broken promises sitting in front of me is my reality, how can I feel anything but?
Take all those feelings of guilt and remorse and regret, wad them up and throw them in the trash. Guilt can’t do anything for you. Regret and remorse can’t move you forward. Planning can. When you hit your wall (we all have at least one), go back to your plan and either recommit to it or tweak it, then get back on the horse.
Here are 3 quotes that I use often to help me keep perspective:
Inertia is your enemy, until you’re moving. (read the link)
You can’t steer a ship that’s not moving.
There is no failure until you quit.
A very good friend of mine, who was also my pastor, had a phrase that he used often: “Rebound and keep moving”. The simple beauty and power of this statement is rooted in the idea that you give yourself permission to get up off the ground from “failing” to do one thing or another, figure out the plan for your next steps, and get back on the horse.
Keep moving, press forward, take the next step, get help, hire a consultant, join a mastermind group, get accountable.
The last thing, the ONLY thing, you cannot do, is beat yourself up about what you have not achieved. That’s a useless exercise. Think about it: what does it actually produce? How does that move anything forward? What tools or direction does it give you to get you back on track?
So I’m starting a new tradition. Every year, January 15th, it’s “Forgive Yourself Day”. On this day, you forgive yourself for not making huge strides from January 1st to January 15th. You recognize that, if I’m like everybody else in the world, you’re not perfect. Just kidding nobody else is perfect either. Since you know that nobody else was perfect, you know the others struggle with this too. Give yourself permission to fail, and “fail forward”.
January 15: Forgive Yourself Day
So, again, on this day, from now on, if you haven’t achieved all your goals, or you’re not moving as fast as you would like to (OR THINK YOU SHOULD…a real killer), then on THIS day, you reassess your goals, take the easiest steps that you can to move any of those or all of those forward, and do it.
Celebrating easy wins is important, and powerful. If you’ve even moved an inch (a metaphorical inch, and no I’m not going metric, because ‘Murica) on any goal, reward yourself and attach that rewarded feeling to the next small victory you’ll have. Remember, you can’t grow without being wrong, else where would the growth be?
You Can’t Grow Without Being Wrong
Do it. That’s the victory. The victory is in taking the next step to move your goal forward. I’ve read many, many biographies about successful people, and I discovered something surprising; they all failed. A LOT. OFTEN. They had something I did not (at the time); they had developed the ability to welcome failure and disappointment as the logical outgrowth of the fact that the present was not their future. Then they made another plan and moved forward. They all ran into stumbling blocks, roadblocks or obstacles, most of which they had not foreseen, and yet they still moved forward. This is not because they were super human, but because they were willing.
“Willing” to take a step they had not taken before; willing to be accountable and honest with themselves (but not hyper-critical, knowing that produces nothing); willing to be accountable and honest with a group of people who would in turn hold them to certain plans and promises; willing to dream big, plan big, and act big.