Starting the New Year with purpose
By Ron Rabou
The year 2023 has finally arrived, and I find I’m not looking back on 2022 with much fondness. In fact, I’ve talked to several folks who don’t have many positive things to say about the past year either.
Despite how difficult things may have been this past year, I do think there is always a silver lining in most everything, if we just choose to find it.
A new year, of course, tends to bring renewed hope and optimism. It is a time where we can push the reset button and look forward to new goals, renewed discipline and aspirations of great accomplishment.
The dilemma is our aspirations can often be much more exciting and motivating than the mundane daily routine of self-discipline to see our goals through to the very end. It’s just human nature.
It’s natural to have dreams and ambitions, but it’s also natural to become overwhelmed by life and responsibilities that come with it. Sometimes, our goals are so ambitious, when we don’t feel some success along the way, it’s pretty easy to give up.
Other times, our lack of accomplishment might be the result of setting goals that really don’t have much to do with who we are and what we actually want. They might be based on an image of what we think we are supposed to be.
To set a goal that is not a reflection of our true inner self can be more demotivating and harmful than we realize. Such a goal causes frustration. It can instill in us more self-consciousness and push us further away from our intended purpose. Most importantly, it can cause us to develop an even deeper fear of failure.
Various studies have shown only five to six percent of people who set goals actually achieve them. More alarming yet is only about 20 percent of people even set goals.
How can this be? How can we live in the freest country the world has ever known, one with opportunity bulging at the seams, and only a fraction of the population is intentional with what they want to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
The answer is quite simple – it’s hard. We live in a microwave society where we become impatient when our burrito doesn’t heat up fast enough. We can become frustrated when we want an answer online, and the internet connection is too slow.
Many people become easily angered when the driver in front of them is not going fast enough. Some folks take to social media and blame the airlines for not getting them to their destination quickly enough. What used to take weeks now just takes a few hours.
We have expedited shipping, accelerated degree programs, “freaky fast” food delivered to our doorstep, instant downloads and the list goes on. A younger generation often wants things now, which took their parents years to build.
I once had an employee tell me it was unfair my house was bigger than his. Ironically, the house he lived in for free was also one of mine. We want things our way, on our terms, and we want it now.
It’s no wonder more people aren’t setting goals, let alone, accomplishing them. It’s easy for a person to say what they want without fully understanding what it takes to get there. It’s easy to look at others and say, “It must be nice,” while making assumptions about their life.
For nearly every successful person I know, there has been a long road full of obstacles, potholes, risk, hard work and sleepless nights to get to where they are today. Everyone wants a blue ribbon, but not everyone is willing to put enough work in to win the race.
Goals are hard because from the outside looking in, they are like a shiny object. They grab our attention, and we wish we could attain them. But from the inside, they can be mundane and routine, because that’s how they are realized – one step at a time, one decision at a time and one day at a time.
The question then becomes, how can we set goals bringing us closer to our purpose and reflect who we are as individuals – goals leading us to a sense of accomplishment rather than failure?
First, people need to forget what the world says and what their neighbors are doing and focus on being the best version of themselves. They need to uncover what brings them their greatest sense of accomplishment or significance, and their goals should reflect this. Then, they need to write them down.
Next, people need to tell themselves goals are not a destination. But instead, are a daily journey. They need to be patient and commit themselves to doing something each day, no matter how small it might be, to help move them in the direction of their goals.
Lastly, they need to remember to have fun. Not much in life is worth doing if a person can’t learn to enjoy the journey.
Here’s to a new year. It’s going to be a great one!