It's seven days away from Christmas and two weeks away from 2018. We put our palms on our face and say, "Oh my god! I haven't done anything much for this year, and it has passed by so quickly."
We get emotional about our failure to maximise our time, missing our New Year's Resolution and sworn full heartedly to do our best for the years to come.
I remembered years ago when I got started in my consulting business; I did the same thing. Back in the days where I have yet to afford my car (and the MRT was reliable), it was always at the same place: at the MRT platform. I was a young consultant who has chosen to leave the corporate world to embark on my own goals. I took out my diary and scribbled by goals for the new year: To make $100,000 that year, sell my products to Fortune 500 companies, travel to a new country and to expand my business to regional countries. I will, and I must succeed!
Then the following year came, and the next and the next.
Was I not here last year, and the year before? What has changed?
The answer was: Nothing.
I fell short of my goals.
Not only was it disheartening, but it also impacted on my confidence. I thought to myself: I am a failure.
Then without a concrete reason, that year, I changed the way my New Year Resolution looked. It says, "To speak to 5 new corporate customers a month, read about one new country a month, to find out more about my work by researching one topic each month."
Then the following year came, and the next. Did anything significant change? The answer was No!
THINGS START TO TURN AROUND
Then came the fourth year! I realized that I had saved $100,000 in the fourth year. I had accumulated a pool of Fortune 500 companies who were my customers, and they had given me outstanding testimonies. I had traveled to Alaska (North Pole), Tibet, Maldives, Slope Point (the most southern tip of New Zealand) and had expanded my business to the region!
So what has gone wrong, or should I say 'right'?
I examined myself and the years that had passed. It seemed to have pointed to the way I set my goals and carrying them out: Instead of having far-fetched purposes, I have chosen to work on (1) short-term achievable goals, and (2) improving on my processes.
By working on these two steps, I was able to achieve my long-term goals.
FOCUS ON YOUR PROCESS INSTEAD OF YOUR DREAMS
Whoever said, "Aim for the Moon, and if you fail, you will fall among the stars?" was just selling you a fallacy.
I looked at my clients and friends who had attained their goals: None of them dreamed big! Instead, they worked on realistic and practical goals and the steps that will reach those dreams.
One business owner in the digital printing area expanded from one person to five-person and a business worth S$5 million in five years, said to me, "I focused on delivering what my clients want. In hindsight, people said to me that I am a man with 'vision.'" He laughed.
Another master tailor with twenty-three years in the business said, "I focus on what I do best and improving myself over the years. Money (and customers) came to find me instead of the other way round."
A well respected and successful General Manager I interviewed said, "I focus on learning: about my industry, my team, and keep improving my processes. When we won several awards, I knew it wasn't about the dreams. Those came after. It was working on what you have in front of you."
We are often caught up with the latest management fads that promise us fallacies. And we love to believe them. Like a successful multi-millionaire client who said to me, "Tell people that they need to have 'dreams.' That's what they want to hear. If you try to explain that it's tenacity, hard work, it doesn't go well with them. But telling them to start with a vision, they love you to bits."
So instead of New Year Resolutions, it is the time that we focus on tangible goals. When your dream is to get 7 A-Ones in your studies, writing down '7 A-Ones' will not get you anywhere. Instead, you may want to consider writing down, 'Revision of each subject, at least 30 minutes a day.' If your dream is to drive a sports car cabriolet, instead write down, I am going to meet with five prospects a week.' Getting 1 out of 5 to buy from you will help you attain the goal of driving that sports car. If you are looking for a pay raise or climbing the corporate ladder, instead of writing down, "I want to be VP by the end of the year', focus on what it takes to be a competent VP and work hard on learning those ropes.
It's seven days away from Christmas and two weeks away from 2018.
So, it's time to write down your tangible goals.
Jace Tan is a Coach, Corporate Trainer and author of his book series called 'Release Your Handbrake.com.'