Goal Setting for the New Year
Mindset is priority number one. Without setting a deliberate intention, we’re apt to wander, lose focus and ultimately find difficulty in maintaining a set course (because there is no course)!
In all the readings, podcasts, videos and tapes centered around professional and personal success, there’s a common vein throughout, and that is “clarity of goals”. Goals come in many forms but generally break down into a matrix of four categories: short term, long term, modest and lofty. There are dozens and dozens of exercises out there that help create and refine each goal, with the most approachable simply being this: write your goals down.
The capacity of our minds is staggering, but like a race car, you can’t just put the gas to the floor, you need to take hold of the steering wheel and exercise a little control. Many of us, especially those who’d consider themselves anxious, have difficulty bridling our thoughts and can be easily overwhelmed and distracted. The simple act of stopping, taking out pen and paper, and being present enough in your thoughts to identify and write down some goals is the first step in gaining clarity in what you want, what you really want.
If you’re so inclined, stop reading now, and find a quiet place, seriously a quiet place...your basement, your bathroom, sitting in your car in the driveway, somewhere distractions are limited, and spend just a few minutes earnestly pondering what your goals are and writing them down. If you’re resisting the idea to write them down, for some reason you are reluctant, then you probably need to do this exercise more than anyone. The goal of this writing is to offer ideas that might inspire a decision that enables improvement in your life, and improvement requires action. Take this one action, if you do nothing else, I promise it’s worth you time. It will clarify your goals which graduates your thoughts from “what do I want” to “how do I achieve what I want”. That is a step in a positive direction for you, your business and your family.
With your goals set, you’re on your way. Your first action item is behind you and you’ve postured yourself to design a plan on how to achieve your goals. I’d encourage you to read this list often, revisit it, revise it, improve it. Life’s circumstances change, ambitions evolve, it’s only natural that your goals would change as well, but by keeping your goals top of mind, each time you are making a decision, whether it’s choosing your meal or determining whether to attend a networking function, the list reminds you to consider “what decision takes me closer to my goals?”
There are many writings out there about visualization and goal setting, creating new habits and breaking bad habits, no doubt hundreds of exercises that help create an action plan and how to create accountability in your mission, but that’s not my place here, but clarifying your goals will help make this writing more valuable to you (as well as potentially inspire new actions that propel you beyond the shared experiences here).
Taking the topic of mindset another direction, I want to introduce the concept “Shoshin Mind”, which is a Zen Buddhist term used to describe the “beginner’s mind”. Put another way, in Rumi’s words, “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment”.
By letting go of any preconceptions you might have, by allowing your curiosity to flourish and guide you, you’ll stumble across opportunities and ideas that will help you stand up and stand out. With a beginner’s mind, you’ll learn in places and from people of all walks...even the rookie in your office, a family member, a small child, will offer you valuable advice if you’re open to receiving it. Opening the mind, proceeding with humility, permits the world to open up and offer opportunities and lessons in many forms, otherwise you restrict yourself to a narrow vision, thus a narrow field from which to earn new information.
Having worked in both large offices, small offices and now owning my own boutique real estate brokerage, I’ve seen a wide stretch of professional personalities and levels of “success” from agents. Many agents are driven by money, some by awards, some by “winning” and others by sales volume, some are tenacious and competitive with others. For me, success is defined by a lifestyle that is marinated in happiness. I have found approaching business, clients and friends from an orientation of gratitude and curiosity, opportunity flows, work is more fulfilling and overall life is better.
Finally, I want to discuss responsibility. No one has control over you, your actions or your reactions. It’s the ego that allows one to believe that the result of one’s life is not a direct result of your own thoughts and actions. If I’ve ever seen an industry with egos, it’s real estate...I am no exception, but I am aware of it and working daily through mindfulness practices to be patient with myself and with thought and own each of my weaknesses and mistakes (as well as my strengths and accomplishments!) By owning your decisions and owning your results, there will never be a lasting failure...by "failing fast", you can reduce the time between "failure" and "action". There will be bumps, times of weakness and times of doubt, but for each of those challenges there’s an opportunity and the more we self actualize, the less time it takes to convert the feeling of failure to the feeling of "carpe diem". By taking ownership and accepting the control you have, you can define your professional journey, but more importantly, your life. I recommend a daily, mindful practice that helps start your day with clarity and a grateful and positive attitude. Consider going to the gym...working out 15 minutes a day for a week is more effective than working out one day for two hours...your mind works the same way.
Here's to the New Year and creating positive habits, here's to appreciating our past experiences, here's to our now and here's to our futures. Happy New Year!