By conventional standards, 2019 was an enormous failure.
At the beginning of the year, I laid out all of my goals in precise detail. I had a list of 18, which you can read about here.
Looking back, I only completed 4 of those goals:
- Establish a coaching business
- Achieve a certificate from Georgetown in Executive Coaching
- Meditate for 1 hour a day
- Read 1 book a month
4 out of 18 goals completed equates to a success rate of 22%. If an “F” is 50%, then I think a 22% is an “I” minus. If my children ever bring home an “I minus”, you better believe mom and dad aren’t going to be super pleased. After a lifetime of goal-oriented living, striving for the next success or achievement, one might think my 2019 was pretty disappointing. However, I could care less about my 22%.
In hindsight, the only thing I’m disappointed in is the fact I created an audacious goal list to begin with. As a result, I over structured my life and provided unnecessary stress to my days. And for what? To accomplish a lot? To feel important? To be “successful”?
While I didn’t do all I initially planned to do in the year, I can honestly say I am pleased with the way the year turned out. I can do this, because I know I lived within my personal values (freedom, unity and curiosity) and purpose (seek my truth and encourage others to seek theirs). In addition to my values and purpose being followed, I spent a good chunk of time with family and friends, laughed frequently, learned a lot and for the most part, didn’t act like a jerk.
Looking back, it would have been nice if I kept up with this blog, did better at batching my internet consumption or gave blood more. I let these goals slip due to one of two reasons – either the goal wasn’t important enough for me to complete, or the goal lost its meaning in the vast ocean of goals I created for the year. Ultimately, 18 goals was way too many. With that said, the 4 I did complete showed themselves to rise above the rest.
Setting goals is a fantastic way to develop an achievement oriented structure. However, setting goals without alignment towards a purpose or values is a good way to fill up your day without addressing the “right” things.
In my opinion, values are your soul. These are the things which help to identify your entire being. They are you. The values I have identified as those being most important to me today, were prevalent from childhood onwards:
- Freedom – I’ve never liked being told what to do, working for others or having any opportunity withheld from me. Example – when I was a Junior and playing on my college soccer team, the coach benched me for some reason. When he eventually told me to go into the game, I replied, “about damn time,” to which I was promptly told to return to the bench. Maybe I shouldn’t have said what I said, but that was just Dan, being Dan!?
- Unity – This value represents my family, team, company, friends group or community. When one of these groups is out of sync, I feel responsible and see myself as the one who must “return balance to the force.” Example – as a kid, I cared so much for my teammates and coaches. I believe it was this “care”, not my playing ability, that led to being named Captain of teams I played on.
- Curiosity – Just like Freedom and Unity, my curiosity is not something I can turn off. It’s the fiber of me. Example – when I was 8, I was so curious and interested to see what I was going to get for Christmas, that I pretended to be sick so I could stay home from school and snoop around the house looking for presents. My curiosity led me to finding them in the upper portion of my parent’s closet. My stupidity led me to forget to put the chair back that I had used to peek in their closet (mom found the chair and returned all the presents).
If values are your soul, purpose is your heart. This is what drives your days. However, just like a middle school crush, purpose can and will change frequently.
Today, my purpose is all around seeking my truth and encouraging others to seek theirs. This quest for truth has led me to explore the bounds of consciousness by deepening my meditation practice through extensive reading, attending silent retreats, and taking part in other activities to expand my awareness. While I anticipate this purpose to continue throughout the rest of my life, I imagine it will also evolve over the years.
In 2019, I failed to realize the importance of aligning goals with both my values and purpose. I also unnecessarily overwhelmed myself, providing myself with a case of “goal burnout.”
Today, I see how goals are the food I consume to keep my heart and soul going. This is the fuel to continue the execution of my current purpose. Just like food, goals are a meal best served in manageable portions. Too much and I get bloated on achievement. Too little and there’s not enough to get through the day.
As a result, my 2020 goal “meal plan” consists of:
- Meditate for 2 hours a day
- Write 1 blog post a week
- Grow my coaching business from 6 to 12 clients
- Be present and love my family and friends
Maybe this time next year, I’ll have raised that “I” minus up to a “G” plus?
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.