It's that time of year again when everyone goes around posting their New Year's resolutions on social media. "I'm going to lose 10 lbs this year". "I'm going to make more money". Each year, we make promises to ourselves and to others that "I swear I'm gonna do it this year". Then, before you know it, July comes around and we're still no further along then where we started. Instead of making promises we can't (or won't) keep, here's why you shouldn't focus on the future, and what you should do instead if you want to get closer to your goals.
Looking too far ahead causes you to lose sight of what's right in front of you
Try it if you don't believe me - but do it in a nice soft place, preferably one where you won't get hit by a bus: Focus as hard as you can on a very distant object (such as a tree or a lamp post), and start walking towards it - notice how quickly you lose balance. The same thing happens when we're so focused on what we'd like our outcome to look like that we lose sight of what's right in front of us.
In the case of the distant object, that thing that's right in front of you might be a crack in the sidewalk or another person (please don't try this in a crowded area). Or maybe it's the forest through the trees. The same thing happens with our goals - by focusing purely on the end result instead of the immediate steps we should be taking, we end up using our resolutions as a way of procrastinating instead of moving forward.
Use last year as a gague - but don't beat yourself up
Looking back f*cks with your neck, as my favorite social media influencer Gary Vaynerchuk often says. This is one of my favorite quotes from Gary, and for good reason - but at the same time, the past can also be a useful tool for getting a sense of which adjustments you need to make in order to get yourself closer to realizing your vision.
Instead of making promises you probably won't deliver on, why not look at last year's goals and ask yourself "what did I check off last year?". Just be careful not to be too hard on yourself - this is where Gary's warning comes into play. Everyone makes mistakes, and we're probably better off because of it. So don't beat yourself up - even the little stuff counts. As an example, here's my list from 2018:
- Clarified my vision for Perfect Leap and what I'd like it to look like
- Re-built the Perfect Leap brand + website to match our vision
- Brought Perfect Leap into cash-flow positive territory (much better than losing money - notice how I didn't specify a dollar amount? By the way our cash flow sucks right now. Specifying dollar amounts only serves to turn this win into a failure)
- Found my tribe - my two young business partners have placed a lot of faith in me and stuck it out through thick and thin. That's more than I could ask for (by contrast I ended things with a previous partner which wasn't working out, and that was a tough thing to deal with at the time)
- Improved relations with my spouse (again doesn't really seem like that big of a deal until you look back at the rough patches)
- Gave back to the community - I spent at least a year volunteering before getting elected to the Vice Chair position on the FreeGeek Vancouver board of directors (which was both unexpected and a privilege that I am grateful for). Our team @ Perfect Leap has also helped out some local non-profits around the local community which is a big part of our vision as a company
Putting it all together
With all of that in mind, could you imagine if I'd said "I'd like to make my first million dollars" or "I'd like my company to generate 250,000 a year in revenue" - those things, while great goals, also appear really insurmountable when you analyze them on their own. But looking back at what we've achieved this year instead, it really begins to feel a lot more like we're getting there, slowly but surely. Now that I can put all of those things behind me, I can really begin focusing this year on the first item in that list - getting closer to my vision.