2020 is a cool number, isn’t it? It’s so easy to say, it rolls off the tongue. It’s got momentum.
It’s a new decade with new opportunities. A chance to reframe your goals, build upon your successes, turn your perceived failures around.
You’ll notice I said “perceived failures” because sometimes it’s also possible to be too hard on yourself. Last year, maybe you didn’t get things exactly right. Maybe you didn’t achieve the outcome you were looking for. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you failed. Sometimes it just means you had all the pieces, all the possibilities, but you couldn’t connect them together in the way you’d hoped. Maybe you confused your goals with your outcomes. Maybe you gave up too early.
It’s a bit like New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions always seem like such a great idea during the euphoria of Christmas, when we’re looking forward to the holiday and thinking “Thank God this year is behind us, next year I’m going to stick to my resolutions and get it right.”
I’m going to go to the gym.
I’m going to start the diet.
I’m going to eat more healthily.
I’m going to save more money.
I’m going to [enter your resolution here if it was none of the above]
But January 2020 had barely started and some people I know were already beginning to fall off the wagon of whatever they wanted to do. Even worse, they were starting to mentally beat themselves up for it. 2020 was still new and, as far as they were concerned, they’d already failed and been sucked back into the grind of the same old-same old.
That’s what they were thinking, but I didn’t agree with them.
If that sounds like you, or somebody you know, I hope these next few paragraphs will help.
It’s human nature to want fast results. We’re bombarded with the promise of quick fixes every time we open a magazine, switch on the TV, check our social media, or look at the junk mail stuffing up our email inbox: ‘Join my five-day programme… turn your life around in 7 days… sign up for my webinar and master inner peace… pay me an insane amount of money and your life will be perfect.’
No. It doesn’t work like that.
You know it. I know it. If you don’t know it then please invest in my theme park where I’m genetically engineering a family of unicorns. It’s going to be a huge success and I guarantee you’ll make a fortune.
There are so many problems with our human need to achieve fast results and then get disheartened when it doesn’t happen, or we’re derailed from our original plan.
“I went to the gym for a week but then work got busy and so much happened and… does anyone want to buy my barely-used gym membership?”
“Veganuary was going so well but then last night I ate some chicken…”
“I stuck to my diet, I lost weight for two weeks running, and then today I put on two pounds. I give up. Pass me the doughnuts.”
We’ve all been there in some way, shape, or form. We’ve all experienced that feeling of, ‘I wanted it to work but I got it wrong so now it’s game over.’ We make it too easy on ourselves to give up.
You went off track for a moment? Just look at the bigger picture, get back on the track and keep going.
What’s your bigger picture?
If this was a normal year, we’d start it by thinking, “What am I going to achieve this year?” That means you’re giving yourself 365 days to make things happen, so getting things wrong can seem disastrous. You’re running out of time, it’s never going to work, what’s the point in continuing to try?
Movie screenwriters call this a ‘timelock’, when the hero’s racing against the countdown to unmask the villain/defuse the bomb/get the girl. Remember that iconic line, “Flash, I love you! But we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!” That’s a timelock. It’s great to watch in a movie. It’s not so great – or useful – when you apply it to your own life.
So, how about looking at it this way: 2020 is the start of a decade, so there’s less pressure than ever on trying to get things right “right now.” We’ve got eleven more months to get things right and set ourselves up for what’s to come. After that, we’ve got nine more years to get even more things right and make our personal and professional lives even better.
You might have heard of The 10 Year Challenge when people post then-and-now photos on their social media to show the world how much they’ve changed. Participants simply post two images – usually side by side – which were taken at least ten years apart. The overall message? Well, apart from showing the world how well or badly you’ve aged I’m not sure what the point really is. I think the fact it’s also named the #HowHardDidAgingHitYou challenge tells you all you need to know.
Instead, here’s an alternative 10 Year Challenge it might be useful to try, and it doesn’t involve posting your wrinkles and liver spots on Facebook.
Take a moment to look back on how your last decade went. Who were you back in 2010, what were you doing, what did you want to achieve? Between 2010 and now, how much have you grown? What were your successes, what were your mistakes? Was it ten years well spent?
What’s in your ten-year future beginning right now in 2020?
What are your goals?
If you want to achieve something, you must have a goal. The goal is the outcome of all your hard work, and goals are something you must work towards. They don’t come quickly, at least not if they’re a goal that’s worth attaining.
It’s all about sustainable change; slowly, incrementally, developing the habits and skills you need to make your goal a reality.
But there’s a common misunderstanding about the nature of goals, and if you’re not clear about what your goal is you’re already setting yourself up for problems. In my opinion, John Whitmore’s GROW model is the most solid way to identify your goal and establish how to accomplish it.
A good way to think about Whitmore’s GROW model is like arranging a journey. Before you can do anything, you have to decide where you’re going (that’s your Goal – G). After that, you’ve got to look at where you currently are (that’s your current reality – R). Then, you investigate all the different routes to take you to your destination (those are your options – O). Finally, you must commit to the journey and be focused on completing it no matter what obstacles are in your way (having the will to move forward – W.)
That’s what GROW stands for: Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward. I’ve already mentioned it in a previous article (‘Does Coaching Work’: 20th November 2019) but I really believe it’s worth restating, especially if you want to get 2020 – and all the years afterwards – moving forward in the right way.
The potential for success is already inside you
You don’t need anybody’s help to achieve your goals. Everything is already in your power and the opportunities are out there waiting for you to find them. But, if you’ve ever found it challenging to accomplish things in the past, coaching can be an invaluable way to help you see things differently, give you a nudge when you need it and hold you accountable for sticking to your intentions. Coaching can also keep you on the right road and stop you from making sparkly diversions that ultimately lead into pitch-black dead-ends.
As a coach, my drive is to help people. There are no tricks, no masterplans. If my advice in these articles inspires you to make the changes you need to succeed, that’s fantastic. If you’d like some one-to-one coaching with me in 2020, just get in touch on 01603 567794 or email email@example.com. I’d love to work with you. Alternatively, there are a plethora of other coaches out there. Just take the time to find the right one for you.
But, whatever you do, take the journey in 2020. And if there’s a day, a week, a month, or even several months, when you think you’ve lost your way – it doesn’t matter. Just recommit to your goal and start again tomorrow. By 2021 you’ll be in excellent shape.