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Writing down your goals is the first step to success

David FullerAnge sat across from me, her face stressed with the worries of the day and her business.

“If you could name last year, what would you name it?” I asked.

Without hesitation, Ange blurted out: “The year of the s–t show.” She told me about the political interference in her work, the trouble she had with key employees, trouble with her main client and more. Ange was clearly frustrated.

However, as we worked through the day on her plan for the coming year, she relaxed and brainstormed ideas that would allow her to change her business model slightly to compensate for the challenges she faced.

At the end of the day, I asked her: “What would you like to name this coming year, Ange?”

Again, without hesitation, she said: “Dave, I’m going to name it ‘the year of opportunity’!”

A winner hope
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This is something I learned from someone wiser than me. I’ve adopted it in my practice and used it for the past four years to create a framework to view the upcoming year.

I write the name on a sticky note and paste it to my computer. It sits there all year, and very few days go by when I don’t look at it. I often catch myself thinking about the theme for the year and considering if I’m achieving it.

I have clients who name their years. Some, like Ange, name it around something they would like to achieve, opportunity or success. Some name it the year of love, relationships or caring, while others have personal names that are meaningful to them, such as “the year of freedom” or “the year of blessings.”

Science tells us that something happens in our brains when we write things down. Something happens when we remind ourselves of our goals and put our mental focus on achieving those goals. An Internet search resulted in an item that alleged the most successful three percent of the population owe their success to the habit of writing down their goals.

I’m not sure how they define success, and for many people, success has nothing to do with money. However, the fact remains that writing things down and keeping them at the forefront of your concentration for long periods produces results.

The year-named opportunity has come and gone for Ange. I wouldn’t say it was a perfect year for her. There was still some political interference, and her main client still gave her some trouble.

However, because she framed the year differently, she looked for opportunities. Ange was able to hire someone to do the work she found mundane and overbearing. Because she was looking for opportunities, she found several that not only challenged her but also helped her diversify her offerings. Ange sought personal and professional opportunities that seemed to give her a more positive perspective on life.

I’ve already named my year, written it down and pasted it on my computer. I’m already thinking about how to achieve that aspiration through the little things I do.

I challenge you to think of a name for your upcoming year and write it down. Stick it somewhere you’re going to see it every day, and consider throughout the year how it makes a difference for you.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc.

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