The beginning of January is one of my favorite times of the year. The process of reflecting on the past year and thinking about what I want to do differently or better to improve some aspect of my life invigorates me. However, last year, when I reflected on 2015, I discovered I hadn’t kept many of my goaIs. Discouraged and frustrated by my limited success, I decided that in 2016, I would simply not set any goals because formal goal setting just doesn’t work for me.
But, in the current period of deep reflection and introspection, I am coming to understand that having no goals has left me feeling hollow and empty. I have no benchmarks against which to measure my progress. Because I’m not inclined to want to experience this feeling again in 2018, I am asking myself, “What I am going to do differently?” This question has left me thinking a lot about a story that Jan and I tell in Who’s Doing the Work about an episode of Ellen’s Design Challenge.
In this episode, the contestants were given the task of building a comfortable sofa that fit within a small living room. Throughout the show, the contestants toiled diligently–they labored over fabric choices and design–and they created beautiful and interesting sofas. In spite of these efforts, however, nobody won the contest. Why? Because nobody’s sofa matched the living room it was supposed to go in. Nobody kept the end in mind.
I have come to realize that solving the problem of not achieving my goals by simply not having goals addressed the wrong problem. The real problem was remembering–and remaining focused on–what was important to me. As I start 2017, I have decided that I will, again, set goals, however, I will also need to plan ways to check in with my goals. I’ve thought that maybe I can put in place some tripwires, such as setting up alerts on my phone and coming up with a series of questions to ask myself to check whether I’m on track. I’m open to suggestions from you. What else can I do to make sure I’m keeping the end in mind? And likewise, what will you do to stay focused on what’s important to YOU?