(3 minute read. And activities!)

Here we are again, entering the first week of January with determination to spend the upcoming year changing and improving ourselves. We think about what we want- a first job, a new career path, expanded or different responsibilities, or perhaps a larger salary.

With low interest rates, unemployment at record-low levels and record-high stock markets, it feels like any of your goals should be attainable in 2018. But the optimism and confidence you feel is also felt by lots of others.

So, no matter what you’re planning to change about your work life in 2018, know this-you’re going to have lots of competition.

If market optimism and a strong economy means personal upside, then allowing distractions to bump you off of your growth plan may be especially costly.


Has this ever happened to you?

January. You’re strong, goal oriented, full of conviction and focus

April. A distraction captures your attention and redirects focus

July. You consider a re-start, but first there’s a summer vacation to enjoy

October. You work hard to refocus on your original goals, but some things have changed since January.

….And the year comes to a close

So how do you avoid damaging distractions? You can’t. They are like weeds. They pop up everywhere and where you least expect.

But what you can do, NOW, is ask and answer ALL of the tough questions about your goals, plans and aspirations. Do the hard work now.
Then, when distractions appear, you’ll be better prepared to keep your goals in sight.


#1: Intention before action

A new job or a higher salary is a worthwhile goal
But to understand the full implication of reaching your goal, think past it to the bigger outcome.
If you achieve your goal…
What new doors can be opened?
What is the benefit to your overall quality of life?
How can you leverage the original goal into even greater success?
Considering your immediate goal as a means to an end-a bigger end- will help you stay motivated and focused on the larger future opportunity.

Fill in the blank:
If I get a raise, then,___________and________and__________
If I get a new job, then,___________and_____________and_________
If I get more responsibilities, then,_______and__________and____________

NOW, test your outcome with “Why?”


#2: Ask Why

Why is this my goal?
Why is this my focus NOW?
Why is this goal more important than another goal?
Why do I believe I can achieve my goal?
Why would others want to stop me from achieving my goal?

Knowing and stress-testing your answers now will help you refocus quickly when distractions surface.


#3: How serious are you about change?

Now we’ll get closer to implementation.

How do you feel when you talk about your goal to others?
If you answered ‘stressed out’ and ‘overwhelmed’, you will have to work extra hard to realize your goal. If you answered ‘energized’ and ‘positive’ you have a better likelihood of achievement your goal.

How will your daily routines change as you work toward your goal?
It may be necessary to let go of some of your current routines to focus on your goal. We are all busy enough in our daily lives, and the purpose here is not to add more work, but to modify your daily activities to serve your goal. Changing routine is hard and takes time, which is why you will need a clear implementation plan.
It’s not just a cliché- The same activities really do bear the same result.

How can others help you?
Don’t go it alone. Find a partner and help each other stay on track. Make talking to your partner a section of the new routine. Changing behavior is not an item that gets checked off of a ‘To Do’ list. It takes attention and work before it becomes an unconscious response. Having a partner makes the work easier and the accountability real.


#4: What

If you’ve cleared the previous hurdles it’s time to move on to the implementation stage.
Ask yourself the following questions to organize your thinking and your actions going forward.

What are the daily, weekly, monthly steps I need to take?
What do I need to learn and whom do I need to meet along the way?
What check-ins do I need to do during the year to keep myself on track?

As a final test, go back to your outcome from Step #1.
Will the steps you’ve laid out above get where you want to go?

Starting is easier than you may think.
Restarting is hard.
Distractions will absolutely arise.
Recognize the threat distractions pose to your plan.
Decide if the distraction is worth it.

January 2018 is for asking ‘What’s first?’
December 2018 is for asking ‘What’s next?’
The in between is up to you.

Happy New Year. Let’s get started.

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