Here we are again. Steaming relentlessly towards the end of yet another year. Of course the same thing happens at the end of every year and it seems that every year, as we get older, the years pass more quickly.
For many years I have taken the opportunity of the break that the Christmas holidays afford, to review the year before it closes. To consider the triumphs and the disasters and to ask myself, “was it a good year?”
As with every year, there were some good parts and some less than good parts, some bright times and some dark times; but in considering whether it was a good year or not I always end up with the same feeling, ”it depends what I set out to achieve”. If I didn’t set out to achieve much, it makes judging the year that much easier. But there again, if I didn’t set out to achieve much, I have pretty much wasted the last year.
I believe that part of our role in life is to make the effort to be the best of which we are capable and that means always being better today than we were yesterday. What we might mean by ‘better’ is down to each and every one of us as individuals, and to no one else, but in my world not getting better, somehow, someway is not an option. There is a poster on my wall of Steve Prefontaine bearing his quote “To give anything other than your best is to sacrifice the gift”. Now I am not necessarily an overtly religious man but I do believe that there is something disrespectful, to our God, to our heritage, to our opportunity, our parents, to our potential about giving anything other than our best.
As we travel through this journey that we call life, measured as it is, by days, weeks months and years we are simply wandering aimlessly unless we have a clear idea of where we are traveling to. However once we have a destination, the wandering gives way to something way more purposeful and having a purpose is transformational. It transforms mindless wandering to a purposeful mission, with all of the meaning and psychological significance that that bestows.
So as we prepare to cross from this year to next year, I wonder, against what criteria will you judge your progress in 12 months time? How will you judge whether the coming 12 months were good for you? To make a proper judgement you will need to decide where will you want to have arrived at in 12 months time? What will you want to have achieved in the time it takes to do a circuit of the sun? In 12 months time where do you intend your travels to have taken you? In terms of personal growth, contribution, fun and finances?
I have always found setting my own goals to be challenging but I prefer the challenge of doing so than the pain of regret in feeling I have wasted the time by not making enough progress in becoming the best I can be. If we are not going ‘somewhere’ we must, by definition be going nowhere. If we are not choosing our own destination, then whose are we choosing? And what makes us think we will enjoy someone else’s choice?
Do yourself a favour. Take some time over the next few weeks. Review the past year and ask yourself whether it was good for you. Reflection turns experience into insight. If you can’t remember what you set out to achieve ask how good was your planning process and are you prepared to have another year of mindless wandering?
If it wasn’t such a great year, is it any surprise? If it was a fantastic year, how good could it have been if you had given yourself some direction, focus and purpose?
Set clear, definite, purposeful and positive goals for the coming year and just see what happens.
I wrote a paper on ‘Great Goal Setting’ because I struggled with this personally for a long time. If you would like a copy to be e-mailed to you drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send it off to you straight away.
Be the best you can be, always.