It’s almost the end of January, which means we’re about a month into the new year. Sounds like a great time for a check-up. How are your resolutions for 2012 coming? Already checked off some items? About to get started? Forgot about them completely?
I considered publishing this post last month along with the flood of articles on New Year’s resolutions that come out each December. However, I decided this year should be different. I’ve always been an avid goal setter, typically to the point where I have so many things I’d like to accomplish that I actually accomplish very little. It’s easy for me to lose focus and get caught up in the daily demands of life, so I know how hard the end of January can be. On January 1, we’re like a heroic visionary out to save the world, but come January 31, we’ve quickly transformed into that painfully familiar image of ourselves that we tried so hard to change.
In light of this trend, this year will be about setting goals that last. Goals you will actually accomplish. But before we can set goals for the year, we first have to ask the question, “Why do we set goals?”
We set goals for two primary reasons:
- To provide a sense of priority and purpose for the decisions you make
- To become the ideal version of yourself
Ultimately, goals provide us with a roadmap. Since we have so many directions we can go in life, we sometimes end up going nowhere because we have the inability to choose. Goals prevent this from happening. Instead of listing out goals in the traditional sense, goals that you’ll actually accomplish are separated into two parts – a Most Important list, and a Life Statements list.
The Most Important list is a short list of things you want to accomplish in the upcoming year. It’s a list that, if accomplished in its entirety, will qualify your year as successful. In fact, these goals are so important that if you accomplish nothing else the entire year except for the things on your Most Important list, then you would consider your year a success.
The purpose of this list is to help with the first reason we set goals – by providing priority and purpose for the decisions you make. This prevents you from pursuing too many things or experiencing decision paralysis, in which you have so many options you don’t know where to begin, so instead you do nothing.
The second list is a list of Life Statements. These Life Statements fulfill the other reason we set goals – by pushing us to become the ideal version of ourselves. Life Statements essentially answer the question, “What do you want to be known for when you die?” These Life Statements relate to the seven areas that are mentioned in Dan Miller’s book 48 Days to the Work You Love. These are powerful, short statements that describe the kind of person you want to be. The truth is that you will be known for something in each of the seven areas, whether you choose to or not. By developing these Life Statements, you will have a purpose and direction that you are constantly pursuing.
As humans, we naturally wear out and lose focus on what’s important. We begin with the best of intentions each year, but we quickly fall back into our old habits. Change that this year. Make a difference. Get active. Determine what goals are most important to you this year and complete them. Create Life Statements that become a part of you, and help you make the right decisions when times are tough. Don’t let your past dictate your future, and make something big happen in 2012, because what you do in 2012 will set you up for the years to come. Just like the famous quote says, “Everyone ends up somewhere; why not end up somewhere on purpose.”