Struggling with getting started with something? Why? Perhaps you set no goals or set them too high, or perhaps too low? What prize will motivate the price?
Are you “on the move” towards your goals or perhaps “stuck in the groove” of complacency? How’s your “get up and go”? Or has it perhaps “got up and gone”? How excited are you about the New Year ahead? Or is it a case of “here we go again”? It can be either way as we reflect on a year gone by and anticipate what might lie ahead in the year to come, can’t it? Time for a quick attitude check. Because it is just the way of looking at this that matters, right?
So if you look back on last year, how do you feel about it? Satisfied? Enthused? Inspired? Tired? Disappointed? Glad it’s all over? Or was it that good (or perhaps even that bad) that you can’t wait for the new year to begin? I have certainly found elements of all of those descriptions in my past year however, perhaps because of my now acquired disposition, I tend to look for and find the good in everything, even those that went less well than anticipated. What can we learn from those, good or bad?
Isn’t that what looking back is meant to be about? I would certainly suggest that there is little point in “wallowing” in what was or wasn’t. You may remember my rear-view mirror versus windscreen metaphor, where I suggest that the ratio of time spent looking back versus time spent looking forward should be about the same ratio as the respective sizes of the mirror versus the windscreen?
Looking forward to getting started
At the start of a New Year, we always seem to look forward to the year ahead and express what we would like it to be and do for us that will be different from the last one(s), right?
So what is it that you really look forward to in 2012? I’m talking about just a few really big picture beings, doings or havings that really matter to you.
I’m really excited about our (particularly lunar) new year. It is the year of the dragon and both my wife and I were born in the year of the dragon, so we have chosen to interpret that as “having all the stars aligned for us” in this coming year. We will still spend the last month of the old lunar year working and traveling abroad in January and then plan to “hit the ground running” when we are back early February.
In my blog Managing Expectations I wrote about the role that our expectations can play in how our reality plays out. Hence our expectations of 2012 are that it is “going to be ripper year”!
What do you believe?
Leaping out of bed
In the blog Leaping out of bed I speak about that enthusiastic feeling we experience when we wake up on the morning that we are flying out to some exciting holiday destination. It colours your whole attitude for that day, doesn’t it?
It’s a little like the late Steve Jobs’ famous speech to Harvard university students way back when he spoke about how (obviously influenced by the terminality of his illness diagnosis) he would look at himself in the mirror each day and check in with himself whether he was doing on that day that which would be befitting of his last day alive. Remember that 7 years passed between his diagnosis and his eventual passing and look at what he still achieved in that time-frame.
A lot of what this is referring to is our basic attitude.
Would you agree with me that shooting for something worthwhile and something that excites you works a whole lot better when you have set a goal. I wrote all about that in my goals trilogy.
What I’d like to talk about today though is how being unrealistic in our goal setting can in fact be counterproductive. If we set the goals too high, they can intimidate. If we set them too low, they don’t suffice to challenge us or “get us off the couch”.
Either of these unrealistic situations can (and often do) lead to Procrastination; which means we choose (unconsciously) not to get started in the first place, so that we can’t fail. The irony is that we procrastinate in order to avoid beating ourselves up for something we didn’t do, which was something we were in control of setting and doing all by ourselves anyway; circular equation, right?
One of the biggest mistakes people make is found in setting New Year’s resolutions. For example, we spend the Festive season (over) indulging and put on weight. Then we resolve to lose that weight in the first 2 weeks of getting back to work, and while we’re at it, we might as well resolve to lose the 5 or 10 kg we were overweight by before we started – all at the same time. It’s just never going to happen, is it?
Again my recommendation is to pick 2 or 3 big picture expectations and set some achievable goals but nonetheless with a bit of a stretch. What I found works best if we break that down into a few steps along the way. That way, when we reach the interim step we recognize or acknowledge that and are inspired to keep going.
Conversely if we miss that step, we are only talking about an achievable small piece which we can shoot for again, rather than giving up on the whole goal altogether and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.
I can feel a number of you nodding your head knowingly as you read this….
The stationary vehicle
My biggest learning from all of this is that whether you set goals or not, whether they were realistic or not, it all boils down to one simple thing: getting started.
I have often said that you can’t direct a stationary vehicle. I encounter that a lot in my coaching. Until someone has “visibly started moving towards something they want”, I am unable to coach or guide them. You cannot direct a stationary vehicle.
So what’s my point? Get started. Stick with it for a while. Find some support that will encourage you, not laugh at you or listen to your excuses. But most of all? Get started.
My experience is that this one simple choice is the mother of all initiative. I can carry the material for a blog around in my head all week, but until I actually sit down and start writing, nothing happens. And when I do, “it all just comes out”.
I spoke about this in the blog Momentum where if we just “have a go” and get started, we start building and gathering momentum towards our goal. Then its suddenly a case of there we go – job done, and we are allowed to feel good about ourselves rather than having to “beat ourselves up”.
So how are you going to approach this New Year ?
Are you just going to let it happen like: “It’s going to happen anyway, so I might as well just let it play out”? That’s taking a passive, let’s wait and see approach, right? That way you can’t blame yourself because “it wasn’t my planning or my making”, right?
Or are you going to play an active part in your year of life ahead? Are you going to get started by setting some goals or expectations or big picture anticipations, or whatever you choose to call the things you want? Are you going to start with some positive images of what you will want to look back on at the end of 2012?
And then are you going to simply get started on a few big ones that really matter to you?
Easy to say; much harder to actually bring about. Here’s a question just for you: what are you going to do differently this year to all the other years that is going to make absolutely sure you won’t look back on the year in regret but that you will look back on it inspired and satisfied?
Perhaps if you are really serious about this, you’ll engage a coach or a mentor to help hold you accountable to achieving these things that really matter to you? If they really matter, wouldn’t they be worthy of such an investment?
I wish you a great new year ahead.