With 2016 coming to a close and 2017 firing up, the thing that becomes top-of-mind to many is goal setting and New Year’s resolutions. The gyms get packed out with sweaty, carb starved people getting summer ready. Some plan to take that long dreamed of trip, buy that book they didn’t read last year and promise they will this year, or finally get their resume ready and find that job that will make them happy. Guys plan to treat her right and grab flowers and wine, girls plan to use that Cosmo “how to please your man” article. Yet, according to a study published in the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 92% of people fail to achieve their resolutions…
So, what’s the proposed solution? F@#K SETTING GOALS!
Well, not exactly.
In 2009, one year in to building my business, I stopped approaching goal setting like a dreamy resolutioner and stopped planning everything out as though it was in my control to do so. The impact of seizing moments was dramatic on my feeling of self fulfillment as an entrepreneur AND it empowered me to take my $800 website and create over $200,000 in steady annual revenue – as a one man show, from home, in my mid 20s.
Setting goals is tough, accomplishing them is even tougher.
If it’s not because we can be our own worst enemy in the process of hitting the target, then it is because the world around us is in a constant state of chaotic change and uncertainty at every turning moment.
Let me define uncertainty in terms of everyday trends and words that can confound even the savviest of mindful sojourners on the most basic of levels: Trump’s America, Kanye for President, smart cars, smart watches, hashtags, memes, trolls, Tesla electric cars that are actually fast and cool, Starbucks holiday cup debates, Starbucks being sold out of double bacon breakfast sandwiches when the app says they have them (ugh…), Venmo, Uber, AirBNB, shall I go on? Hell, just this week I read about bacon made out of seaweed and doctors trying to transplant a human head… who knows what fate has in store for us next!
As an ambitious entrepreneur, marketing professional, and mindful human being seeking to contribute the best I can to the community and further my legacy, this uncertainty creates ‘UGE (remember, Trump’s America) challenges for setting goals and planning the longterm of both my personal and professional aims. In the book Antifragile Nassim Taleb writes, “Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.” Love the uncertainty. But how?
I started my first business in 2008, and after about a year into operation I realized two things about the way I set goals and worked those goals into existence. Two things that mattered; two things that guided the decisions: the overall vision of where I want to go and the next 24 hours. Not the next month, year, or next decade.
Once upon a time, I had one year, three year, five year, 10 year, 25 year, and even 50 year goals, each broken out by bullets and extensive summaries! At one point I spent countless hours to construct a 23 page document filled with specific plans starting today and going on until I had my AARP card and conversion van. I quickly learned that the 25 year goal timeframe was the ideal that would be realized if everything went according to how I thought it should, and that goal was also my passions and hopes manifest in a grand vision. I created a vision board of my desires and the list included things like raise healthy children that contribute their gifts, build a business that gave me full financial and emotional freedom, help charities and those in need, live on the beach, and most importantly, become Batman. These visions for different areas of my life were not so much a defined set of items to check off a Wunderlist, but they were the ideal self image and feeling that I wanted to manifest into my life.
With a solid future vision in place I found that the short to mid-term plans (one to ten year goals) became far less important to my daily agenda, and those daily actions had an immense amount of purpose behind them and within my control. Having the defined image of a future vision I valued distilled my daily priority into one thing – taking a step towards that purpose for the next 24 hours. I did that over and over on a daily basis with only the grand plan in mind. In essence answering the questions:
What if the next 24 hours are all that matter?
How will I approach this day to get me closer to my ideal?
This thought process removed stress from my operation, streamlined the way I set deadlines and projects, made planning much more efficient in both time and mind space, simplified my methods, and helped me adapt to the uncertainty of culture and business trends. When the next 24 hours are prioritized and uncertainty strikes, the most important step today that takes me to my vision becomes adapting to the change rather than stressing out about how much it impacted how I planned to do things.
Though it may be easier said than done, my encouragement to all those would be resolutioners or individuals that have defined plans is to find the grand ideal that you would deeply connect with. Let go of the weight of having to manage the stress of how drastically life can change your plans, none of which is in your control. Vision board those ideals and then take the next 24 hours, the present moment, and step towards that ideal. Because in an uncertain world where the only thing you can be truly certain of are your actions and attitude in the moment, perhaps that moment is all that should matter.