Evaluating Where You Are, Where You Need To Go and How You Will Get There
By Tonya Twitchell
The early springtime is one of my favorite times to review my New Year’s resolutions and annual goals. Enough of the year has passed that the “newness” and sense of “I must, or am supposed to, set goals and resolutions” has worn off, and the reality of the year we are now fully in is just beginning to hit. For me, everything sounds good and exciting—and possible—in the final hours of December and the brightness of January’s early days. The future and everything that will or could transpire is perfect and my expectations and visions of myself are nothing short of perfect. In those pre-reality of the year moments, I am perfect. My intentions are perfect. How I achieve my goals will be perfect. How I stay grounded in myself and on track and on purpose, you get the point.
According to studies that have been done, January 12th is the fateful day when most people’s resolve and commitment to their resolutions begins to falter. By the time we get into February, 80 percent of us will have abandoned the resolutions we set. Why, then, do I love the months of February and March? Why are these the months that I am most interested in reviewing those likely failed resolutions and goals? I love them because this is where maximum learning and opportunity are present. This is the moment in time when we have grounded, recent data (I often refer to it as “evidence”) of what worked and, more importantly, of what—and when—we get derailed or off course with the goals and resolutions we so intentionally set.
Assuming we did not choose our resolutions through a random selection luck-of-the-draw approach, there was some intention, and thinking, around why we set those goals and resolutions in the first place. There was a reason why that goal or resolution mattered and belief around our ability to successfully achieve that resolution or goal.
The fact that we “fell off the wagon” or “abandoned” our resolution is not what matters. What matters is the story we told and became attached to about why we were no longer able or willing to stay the course. There was something that invited us to fall back into our usual, more comfortable habits and patterns. Something that we did not anticipate or properly prepare for or navigate through or around that kept us more firmly rooted in the “land we have always had and known” and not farther down the path we said we wanted to be on.
It is during this time of year that I often dust off one of my favorite self-evaluation exercises. This exercise, one I long ago borrowed from other wise people I know, is called “Stop, Start and Continue,” and the essence of the exercise is this:
For each goal or resolution you set, ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Knowing what you now know (thank you learning and failures from the first 30 to 60 days of this year), what do you now see that you will need to STOP doing or believing if you are going to move forward with and achieve this resolution or goal?
2. Knowing what you now know, what do you now see that you will need to START doing or believing if you are going to move forward with and achieve this resolution or goal?
3. Knowing what you now know, what do you now see that you will need to CONTINUE doing or believing if you are going to move forward with and achieve this resolution or goal?
The beauty and genius of this process is two-fold. One, you have actual data from the first 30 to 60 days of the year to answer these questions in a grounded, specific, actionable way. Two, once you have answered these three questions, you have a clear, specific, actionable roadmap of what it will take to achieve each of the resolutions and goals you initially set.
Now for the most important part. Sometimes, in order to move forward, we have to give ourselves permission to let go of and release things that no longer serve us in our lives. This requires courage and truth telling, and a willingness to set aside the tendency or temptation to make ourselves “wrong” or “less than” because we are letting go of something that no longer matters to us or aligns with who we want to be or with the legacies we want to create in our lives.
For me, I don’t care about what other people think my goals should be or must be. And my wish for you is that you allow yourself to be unapologetic, honest and selfish as you review the goals and resolutions you have set. Allow yourself to tell the truth—to yourself, at least—about the goals and priorities that are most important to you. Allow yourself to be honest about your capacity and willingness to take on and achieve the goals and resolutions you previously set. If they still serve you and matter to you then go for them. Stop, Start and Continue your way to success. Know that you will get off course at times, and that is normal. Simply pull out these questions, review the most recent “evidence” and data, and reset.
If, however, you have a “should” goal or resolution on your list … if you are staring at a goal or resolution and it is neither important to you nor likely to bring you joy, allow yourself to consider saying “no” to it. Allow yourself to consider “stopping” this goal or resolution in pursuit of the more important goals and opportunities in your life. In this life, there are no guarantees. There is no certainty or guaranteed timeline that we get to live. We have today and hopefully some future days and moments. Allow yourself to check in with yourself and the goals you have set. Review the “evidence” and data to support you in seeing the “truths” that you may not have been able or willing to see. Decide based on today, this moment, what you, and you alone, are really interested in and up for. Stop, Start and Continue your way into your very next moment and into your life’s legacy and definition of success.
Tonya Twitchell is a champion of people and possibilities. In her work with individuals, teams, and companies, Tonya provides training, coaching, and public speaking about the importance and intersection of leadership and legacy. For more information, visit www.tonyatwitchell.com, linkedin.com/in/tonyatwitchell, or email Tonya @ Tonya@TonyaTwitchell.com.