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A new year often brings about the desire to reflect, take stock and make changes. (Actually, I believe the start of a new calendar year is not the best time to do this, as commitments that are made from a sense of ‘that’s what’s expected’ frequently don’t last the distance. Any day is the start of a new year, and so picking a time when you deeply believe in your commitment to change is the best time for this!)
For some, the desire for new career and business opportunities will be the catalyst to set new challenges. (In motivation terms, this is often called a ‘move towards pleasure’.)
Alternatively, perhaps you are moved to action by a ‘move away from pain’. Staying in our comfort (or known) zone can lead to boredom, low motivation and decreased self-esteem, knowing we are not truly utilising our full potential. We drift through life, time passes … then suddenly we worry that it’s too late to make changes and/or we feel guilty about missed opportunities. Setting new goals can help us avoid these feelings.
How much is enough?
I believe our goals should stretch but not break us. A goal that makes you feel excited and ask yourself ‘how am I going to do that?’ is usually a good sign of stretch.
On the other hand, if the goal makes you say ‘who am I kidding – I’ll never achieve that’ and leaves you feeling tried and depressed at the mere thought of taking the first step towards its achievement, you’re probably beyond your stretch.
A word of caution: Don’t underestimate your capabilities – and remember the words of this wise person: when asked if he could play the piano, a man replied “I don’t know”. People around him said “Of course you know – you either can or you can’t!” His reply? “No, I don’t know if I can play the piano because I’ve never tried.”
The truth in this is profound. You will never know what you are truly capable of until you give something a go!
Milestones are vital
Without points along the way where we can celebrate our progress and experience the pride of achievement, the pursuit of longer term goals can be exhausting and depleting.
Often it is useful to set a deadline, then work back from that, setting milestones at points where you can clearly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether you have completed what is required to that point. In my experience with clients, this is a key to goal attainment. Being able to quantitatively know you are progressing significantly fuels the flames of your internal motivation to keep going.
And remember … progress is often more about direction than speed. Deadlines and milestone dates can be shifted as necessary. The fact that you’re moving in the desired direction is what’s important.
What if I fail?
I believe the only way you can fail is if you fail to get started – or if you give up too soon. I frequently talk at my seminars about mis-takes (yes, that’s written correctly). Actors in movies have as many ‘takes’ as they need to get a scene the way they want it. Why shouldn’t we have the same attitude?
In inventing the light globe, Edison taught us what some may call ‘failures’ can be viewed as merely ‘opportunities to learn’. In his many thousands of attempts, what others called failures, he called ‘learning many ways how not to do it’.
When you hit stumbling blocks, take time to reflect and debrief with yourself. What can you learn from the experience? Perhaps you might reset your goal and/or the deadlines.
But by no means should you ever look at what has happened as ‘failure’.
A final tip
In the busy-ness of our world, we too often forget to celebrate our achievements. We cross one item off our To Do list and immediately launch into the next.
A full one hour lunch break, a walk in a park, a glass of your favourite drink – celebrating can be something simple but ensure it is significant by its difference to your normal routine when you complete something.
And never, ever dismiss, demean or diminish your accomplishments! Your achievements reinforce the foundations of your self esteem and you can rightfully feel proud of them!
Copyright © 2010 Sandi Givens and Knowledge-Able Pty Ltd
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