This post is for the goal getters and overachievers who breathe ambition and bathe in motivation. Truth is, we all set goals we struggle to keep. As we rapidly conclude 2018 (seriously, how that happened, I’ll never know) it’s natural for us to reflect on our year, often with the chagrin and disapproval, only true perfectionists intimately understand. Unfortunately, those goals that we didn’t achieve tend to bogart our focus as we bulldoze right over our successes, both small and large. Why do we so easily berate ourselves for our deficits, when a closer look reveals our successes and milestones?
Well, if you’re anything like me then the first thing you did to reflect on 2018 was dust off the ol’ boxing gloves and go to town on yourself for your “failures.” I’m here to send a (gentle) digital slap-in-the-face. Open those pretty eyes and learn how to measure success rationally and use the momentum of your accomplishments to slay 2019!
Did you set 20 New Year’s resolutions last year? Ok, maybe you’re not yet as insane as I am, but no doubt you bit off more than you could chew, no? I feel you. I’m in that overly ambitious boat with you, drowning miserably. Don’t get me wrong, I love setting New Year’s Resolutions and challenging myself to do better, be better, give em hell and go after my dreams. However, at one point do we find the balance between setting realistic expectations, and setting ourselves up for failure?
Welcome to the failure trap. Prime example? In 2018 I set goals to:
This is all fine and dandy, these ambitions will be achieved in time, but within the time span of 365 days? Was I on crack when I wrote my New Year’s Resolution’s list in January? Well, I don’t smoke crack, so the only rational explanation is that I fell into the failure trap. I set my expectations so high that inevitably, I had no choice but to fail at some of them.
The truth is, I placed emphasis on my success being directly linked to monetary success, acclaim, and accolades for my work. Guess what? There aren’t prizes for the blood, sweat and tears of the daily grind and hustling to achieve your goals.
But enough about my struggle, this is about you. Did you fall into the failure trap when reflecting on 2018? If so, you’re not alone. Here’s how you can get back on track:
Before you tore into yourself for not achieving all your goals, did you take a second to stop and acknowledge your successes this year? If not… let’s get right down to business doing that. Get a pen and paper, or flex your fingers and type your way through this.
Write down what you achieved without measuring success by one metric of your life. Hold the umbrella over all areas of your life and start highlighting what you’re proud of, and how it made you feel to accomplish each item.
Personally, once I got it on paper, stood back and widened my view, I realized that despite my deficiencies, I moved mountains within my life this year. I launched two businesses, went on five trips (including an epic road trip), learned an instrument, and gained valuable focus within my career ambitions. However your successes look, they exist and deserve recognition. Put your accomplishments on paper and look closely at them in order to measure success rationally.
Go back to your 2018 goals list and review where you feel you lacked. Now, gently (without guilt and shame) slide those items onto the list for 2019, that is if they are still important to you. If not, toss them in the trash faster than you would those skeptical leftovers from Friday night’s takeout.
Take these items and jot down why you want to accomplish them, where you slipped up, what your ultimate goal is, and how you’ll achieve them.
From there, the process is threefold:
Got your goals on paper? Great, scatter them throughout your life. Plaster that sh*t up everywhere. Write them on post-its and stick them on your bathroom mirror, bedside lamp, kitchen cabinet, coffee cup, forehead, you get the idea. Remind yourself of what you need to do, and give yourself visual cues that are unavoidable. Accountability is crucial for slaying your goals.
When there’s pressure on yourself to follow through, you’ll inevitably slay, baby. This method can also backfire. Sometimes we end up feeling guilty for becoming experts at neglecting our goals. When you find yourself stagnant, ask yourself:
Do you want to prolong your goals for someday, or do you want to start your journey today, on day one?
Finally, let’s chat about all of the amazing things you accomplished this year! Did you learn something new or pick up a new hobby? Did you implement a morning routine? Maybe you started walking or running? All of those little personal milestones add up big time. So, don’t allow yourself to skip over reveling in your successes. It’s so easy to do, but ultimately, when we only highlight the disappointments, the uncomfortable facets of our lives where we let ourselves down, we’re perpetually guilty and unhappy with our progress.
I made the mistake of only using one area of my life to measure my success: my income. When in hindsight, starting businesses require time to grow and provide a return. At the start of 2018 I knew I’d take a big financial hit because I was taking some major leaps. Leaps alone are huge milestones! Yet at the end of 2018, I fell into the failure trap, only measuring my success by my monetary worth. This is incredibly dangerous because…
If my worth only amounts to how much money I make, I’ve already failed. However, if I redefine my definition of worth, I’m able to acknowledge the incredible milestones I’ve achieved this year.
Sure, I didn’t make as much money as I intended on making, however I also:
Can I put a monetary value on any of those accomplishments? Not yet. So if I only measure my success by how much I made, I’m essentially worthless. Conversely, the sum of my worth according to my creative yardstick is skyrocketing with success. Bottom line: Use more than one yardstick to measure your worth. Apply this shift in perspective to acknowledge that you’ve already succeeded! The energy and fuel we receive from accomplishments sustain exponentially longer than the stagnation failure cultivates.
How easily I fell into the failure trap, shame on me. Truth is, we all get down on ourselves, especially when we play:
Oh, those successful people who have it all. You know who I’m talking about. The 20-something blogger getting paid 20k per post, the mid-30s #girlboss who perfectly balances having an adorable family and a booming business. Listen and listen good. No one has it all. NO ONE. Comparing our journey to someone else’s is incredibly dangerous. We’re all on our own path, allow yourself to be inspired by others, but don’t let their success minimize your worth. Take each day, each step, in the pace you were meant to take it. You’re walking in your shoes, so get a comfy pair, put on your big-girl/boy pants, and waltz into next year with the tenacity and fury of a blazing wildfire. I’m serious, make 2019 YOUR year. Now that you know how to measure success, nothing’s standing in your way.
Christina Lyon is a coffee-sipping, word-obsessed business blogger, content writer, and blog consultant. She’s on fire for helping creative entrepreneurs and small biz owners build thriving blogs that enhance online visibility and convert to sales. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves to play music and explore the beaches and wild trails along the California coast with her husband Steve and rescue pup, Clio.
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