Monday Motivation: Look Back Before You Look Ahead

2009 December 28
by Kate O'Neill

Rear View
Creative Commons License photo credit: Misserion

When people set goals, they’re often dreaming of some ideal version of themselves or their business that isn’t founded in real characteristics. In other words, if you resolve to lose 20 pounds but you’ve spent the better part of the past year traveling and eating road food, and you don’t see your travel schedule changing in the foreseeable future, that resolution is going to be difficult to achieve. Unless, of course, you address the travel issue.

And that’s the key. Looking at where you want to go and really aiming to get there means looking at where you’ve been and what’s kept you from reaching your destination. The most obvious obstacle may not be the one that’s holding you back.

In my professional life, I’ve been part of many, many goal planning sessions. They inevitably involve some kind of quasi-introspective exercise, like a SWOT analysis, and then when it comes to goal-setting time, everyone almost always promptly forgets all the would-be insights from the introspection. It’s a challenge to be brutally self-honest, and even more of a challenge to continue to be optimistic in the face of that kind of self-evaluation, but that’s what it takes to shake off the anchors of previous years and previous quarters and move on to what’s possible now.

When you’re tasked with setting goals, you’re often reminded to make them SMART — that is, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely — but who’s to say what “attainable” really means? Only you know the context of what’s preventing you from achieving greatness. Only you can address the root issues that need addressing.

As we end and begin a quarter, a calendar year, and a decade, I wish this for you: that you will bravely confront what keeps you from being and doing everything you dream of, and that you will boldly vow to overcome it. And then that you will overcome it.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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