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Set the Pace to Persevere

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We did it. We made it to the new year. 2020 is officially over. 

After a year like 2020, most of us are at least a little shaken up and probably feeling discouraged. We all had big hopes and dreams for 2020 and a lot of those were dashed when blow after blow just kept coming. And just when things seemed like they might calm down a bit and we could get back on track, something else would come out of left field to shake everything up again. 

I know the start of a new year’s supposed to be all about setting big, reaching goals and that most of us are going to have a hard time shaking the disappointment of all of the ones that never panned out—it’s going to be hard to forget about those those losses and keep those lows from setting the tone—but you have got to dig deep and pick yourself up. 

This last year was nothing if not a test of our perseverance and if you’ve made it this far, you can’t give up here. Somehow, we’ve made it to January and since we’ve made it, we can’t just set goals for the sake of setting goals. We have to commit to a reset that actually sets us up for success. 

The first thing you have to do sounds simple but this last year proved it’s anything but. You’ve got to stay focused. Let everyone else worry about the talking heads. It’s time to keep our heads down and zero in.

So many people thought if we could just get through the first wave of lockdowns or the first round of protests or if we could just get through the election, things would calm down all on their own. All of that chaos and debate isn’t just going away overnight and this next year could be just as distracting as the last. You’ve got to keep your eyes on the prize and look straight ahead. 

The next best thing you can do is set goals that mean something. I’m telling the shops I work with to get serious about their goals by nailing down real, concrete perks and consequences for the goals hit and the goals missed. 

We’re setting goals all the time, but how often is that goal really more than a number on a page? The human brain is programmed to pursue pleasure and run from pain, so why not tap into those mechanics that actually push you forward? Ask yourself what you can look forward to if you hit the mark or what the punishment would be if you don’t. It could be as harmless as promising to buzz your head in front of the whole crew, but making those goals personal is going to help you work toward them in a whole new way. It gives you a whole new kind of motivation. 

Finally, it’s time to start setting goals that are realistic. Keep it simple. After a year like 2020, no one needs more stress and setting and hitting goals doesn’t have to be stressful. I know some people think goal setting can be intimidating. Goals aren’t scary. What’s actually scary is staying where you are and overwhelming yourself in the process. 

Your goals aren’t better the bigger or the more ambitious they get.If you can’t separate the forest for the trees or the trees for the forest, you’ve gone too far and you have to simplify because goals that confuse or overwhelm you are just going to create noise—and ultimately you’ll spend more energy managing the stress and burnout from everything you’re trying to accomplish all at once than you will on actually working toward your goal. This is one clear case where it actually pays to slow down. 

Last year might have knocked us down, and that’s OK. It’s all part of life. But you can’t lose steam now. Let’s all do ourselves a favor and find the quiet, focus on a clear vision and get to work. 

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