It is New Year’s Eve. The house is quiet. I am sitting by the fire with my spouse, sipping Laphroaig, and reflecting on the year gone by. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We discuss our goals and dreams – personal, professional, financial, spiritual, health & fitness, relationships, learning/personal growth, and leaving a legacy.
I recognize that my three greatest satisfactions from the past year were:
- I took the family skiing in Whistler over March Break.
- I got promoted at work.
- The Blue Jays made it to the Playoffs.
In contrast, my three greatest frustrations were:
- The business was pretty flat.
- I gained 10 pounds in spite of my best intentions.
- I am really no closer to my retirement money-wise
I begin to think about the coming year and I determine that I don’t want to be sitting by the fire this time next year, no further ahead in achieving my dreams and goals.
I realize my failures in achieving goals or “New Year’s Resolutions” in the past were a result of one of five things:
- The goals were unrealistic and unachievable;
- They were insufficiently important to me to be motivational;
- I lacked discipline when the going got tough;
- I had no accountability partner to challenge me; or
- I was not able to deal effectively with the barriers that came up in response to my goals.
It becomes clear to me that challenges will come up whenever we try to achieve our goals. These barriers don’t need to stop us – but we need to overcome them to be successful. Our ultimate success has a lot to do with our reaction to these barriers. I remember Stephen Covey writing “The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness.”
I realize that almost everything I have now, including my possessions and my current situation, has been determined by the choices that I have made. My inner voice reminds me that “Choice, not chance, determines destiny”.
I also realize that (almost) everything that I don’t like is fixable, but that it will take effort. Once again the little voice whispers “Dreams are things to be worked for, not wished for”.
And, I know that in general 80% of these “fixes” can be done within 12 months.
I am going to have to break old habits and replace them with new ones. The little voice chimes in “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” (Vince Lombardi).
Looking ahead to the New Year, I would like to improve 1 aspect of each area of my life. In each area I ask myself 6 questions:
- What is a meaningful, motivational, achievable and measurable goal?
- Why is this important to me?
- What is involved in achieving this goal?
- How will I measure my progress? (What is the “leading indicator” or KPI that I am making progress toward my goal?)
- Who will hold me accountable along the way?
- How will I reward myself when I accomplish it?
As a pragmatist, I sketch out a chart because I am reminded that “Confidence comes with a plan”, and I commit to reviewing it weekly in the coming months. For a sample goal setting chart, click here.
I am encouraged by the words of Walt Disney – “If you can dream it, you can do it”. BRING IT ON, 2017!