In our first installment of our “Wisdom Wednesday” video series this week on Facebook, I discussed the importance of setting SMART Goals. For anyone (like me) who needs a refresher on these, I recommend this Lifehack post on the topic.
But, I want to take a few minutes to go beyond the nuts and bolts of setting goals and just rest on the importance of doing so in the first place. And to discuss our obstacles to setting them in the first place.
Confession: There have been points in my professional life where goals have really bothered me. In the back of my mind, setting a goal can sometimes feel like a path to possible failure. What happens if I don’t reach those goals? See, I really, really don’t like failure. Just ask my wife — I’m the guy who turns off the TV the moment my favorite sports team is down by a few scores. I just can’t stand to see them lose and, in turn, to have something I’ve invested in fail.
And yet, failure is a part of life. Things don’t always work the way you think they will. This happened to me in a business venture. My wife and I partnered on a business that we were super excited about, only to find our hopes and goals for that particular venture fade away as we realized it wasn’t going to work in our given situation. It was an industry that we were never able to comfortably navigate. We were sinking despite our best efforts.
It happens. We fail. Despite our very best of intentions, sometimes things don’t work out the way we scripted. But, we have to have hope in the future, hope that we will be able to overcome failings, be redeemed from the mistakes we’ve made and learn valuable lessons along the way.
What I’ve learned, both from some of my own failings professionally and my own shortcomings as a human person is that no matter what I do or how I feel it is always best to pick myself up and move forward in a spirit of hope and confidence. Perhaps you’re reading this and you’ve been through a lot over the past year. Perhaps you don’t want to admit it because it may not match the image you project on social media. I’m with you. Isn’t it more fun to share our successes on Facebook? Clicking through a photo gallery from someone’s wedding is a lot easier than reading someone’s post about battling the demons of depression.
Life has its good times and bad times. Anyone who has reflected on their situation knows that. As the famous Biblical saying turned Pete Seeger lyric goes: “To every thing there is a season.”
I want to stress this idea: Out of the ashes of the things that didn’t go our way can often come the hopes, dreams and goals that make us who we are and motivate us to strive for more. If you’re coming out of a tough season, cling to this. Look to examples of people who have made it for hope.
There are so many examples, ones that can truly inspire all of us. One that never ceases to inspire me is the backstory of J.K. Rowling, perhaps one of our era’s most acclaimed fiction writers. Before Harry Potter made her famous, Rowling was living on welfare in the U.K., a struggling single mom. Out of her trials, Rowling created something that has become timeless. I’m not saying Harry Potter is literary gold — but I am saying Rowling’s ascent story is pure gold for the heart that needs inspiration and hope.
I’ve set a couple goals for myself in 2018: One is a personal goal — namely, to read at least 5 pages from a real book every day — hat tip to one of my grad school classmates, Gillian Brockell, now a Washington Post reporter, who posted that as her goal on Facebook. It’s a perfect one for me too.
Professionally, my goal for 2018 is to increase the revenue of Bear Icebox by more than 50 percent. It’s ambitious, but I know that it’s doable.
One final tip for anyone who may be questioning goal setting or wondering how to think about it. This comes from esteemed tennis star, Venus Williams. She’s been quoted as saying “Set realistic goals, keep re-evaluating, and be consistent.” I love this. It makes goals not a scary thing to fear but something that you work toward, you evaluate and you chip away at. Goals become the marathon tape in the near future that you’re training to cross.
When you create goals that align with your passions, you’re creating a formula for excellence. Set those goals, everyone, and let hard work and persistence be your guiding light.