This year has been one of twists and turns, both professionally and personally. There were plenty of wins and setbacks to keep things interesting. Such is life, they say. As I prepare to put 2019 in the rearview mirror, I find myself reflecting on how I plan for the future and set goals, and how perspective changes the way I handle the unexpected and master the art of the bounce-back.
Grand Goals and Plans
I’m sure I’m not the only one that habitually looks to the new year as a great reason to set resolutions and visualize the changes I want to see throughout the coming year. It seems as good a time as any to close a chapter and open another. Like every year, I set out in 2019 to expand into new areas of personal and professional growth. In fact, we begin each year at CEEK by laying out our goals in both of these areas. For me, this activity serves to set up mile markers for the year ahead and a motivating factor to ensure my goals are coupled with steps to actually get there.
So, out of a few thousand areas of interest, I zeroed in on obtainable and worthwhile objectives to tackle in the new year. Learning new skills. Incorporating my own love for design into my daily work. And becoming a more authentic and centered colleague and parent.
It all seemed so… doable.
Setbacks and Distractions
As January rolled into February and on to March, I took my pulse. Wait, is it just me or am I somehow lagging behind? Somewhere between Spring and Summer, as I looked back at my goals and my predetermined steps to achieve them, I realized that my tempo had dipped. My otherwise clear path had suddenly taken on a hazy fog and my goals and steps slipped further out of sync. I started to find myself under pressure – self-imposed pressure over my self-imposed goals. My ship was taking on water!
The more that I fretted about the lagging the more it felt like a slow-rolling paralysis, creeping into my joints until each achievement became a hard-won battle. Slowly, I started to watch my milestones come and go without the expected feeling of accomplishment. The worthwhile turned into the worrisome and the doable into doom and gloom.
In my haste, I made simple mistakes and, as a result, my confidence faltered.
The Important Prevails
Where’d it all go wrong? I turned to all of the common causes as an explanation. Over ambition? Procrastination? Ill-preparation? There had to be a reason; after all, my heart was in it. I set out goals that reflected my aspirations and I set steps that would assure success. I had the tools. It was all in my grasp…
By mid-October, I was ready to admit defeat. This wasn’t going to be the transformative year I envisioned. And so, I decided to turn my attention to the important and to do that well. The disappointment would be there, but at the very least, I would execute core activities well.
Ambitions be damned…
Perspective, Flow, and Clarity
So, here we are. A year wrapped up. And wrapped up pretty well. But I’d be remiss if – now on the other side of what seems like a whirlwind of projects and plans – I didn’t reflect on my turbulent year. Where did it all go wrong?
Well the stunning fact is, it didn’t go wrong at all. It just went.
Okay, yes, in the most literal sense, things didn’t go to plan and not all of my goals were met. But here is where it all comes down to perspective. My analytical mind will tell me that the steps I laid out to reach my goals were flawed if I failed to reach the destination. But, by applying a bit of perspective, I can easily suss out the triumphs. For one, I’ve learned that plans and goals are great, but if you’re sleepwalking (or panicking!) your way through the process, you’re missing the point.
Furthermore, goals can shift, extend, and even take a back seat. This is admittedly a hard perspective for me, as I am a stickler for finishing what I start. But, as I reflect, I can admit that often the wisest thing to do is to put down the brush and back away from the canvas till you can once again see the bigger picture.
More than anything, I’ve found that 2019 was a crash course in flow. If there was a single identifiable blockage to achieving my goals – one thing that went wrong – it was my belief that it all had to go right. Perspective has taught me that there really is no wrong way to do “growth”. Even if I set goals for the 2019 year that weren’t met in the tangible world, the pursuit of those goals has given me a lens by which I can better navigate my natural tendencies with ease. I’ve gotten to know myself better. There’s nothing wrong with that. As a person who has no problem dealing in clichés, I can say that gaining this perspective has better prepared me to embrace 2020 with clarity of vision. And there you have it. A goal I never made was achieved. I’ll call that a win.
So, here’s to your 2020. May it bring you exactly what you need, nothing that you don’t, and the clarity of vision to realize the difference between the two. Cheers!