It’s that time of the year when life is winding down and we are gearing up for Christmas festivities and holiday breaks. Each year my family goes camping for the first 2 weeks of January. This year will be no different. In the past I’ve recognised an interesting phenomena that about 4 days before the end of holidays I start to get restless and wake up feeling a bit anxious at the thought of returning home…back to business…and having to wind everything up again for the new year. Does anyone else feel like this?
So about 3 years ago I started a new habit of casting my eyes and setting my goals for the year ahead - the week before Christmas. This means that I already have a strong sense of where I am going and what I have to do when I return from my holidays. Throughout this Christmas week I’ll reflect over my 2011 and dream and scheme for 2012. I will relook at my goals, the progress I have made and the goals achieved. I will write goals down for my business and my personal world and my husband and I will set our family and financial goals. It never ceases to amaze me that I can say ‘yes done’ … ‘yes achieved’ … ‘yes in progress’ … to so many of the goals that I’d recorded the previous year. From personal experience, I have found that setting goals really does work. Let me share with you my top 2 reasons why.
1. Setting Goals Requires You To Make Decisions
It’s my belief that the power of a goal is actually found in the power of making a decision. In life there are so many options and choices, steps and pathways. A decision made, sets your direction towards a specific destination. Henry Kissinger says ‘If you don’t know where you are going every road will lead to nowhere’ and Thomas Carlyle,‘A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder’. Making a decision harnesses the strength of your will and focuses all your resources to that given purpose.
2. Setting Goals Increases Achievement
Years ago I remember reading that in a USA college Yearbook that only 10% of students had recorded their next 5-10 year goals. Ten years later it was found that these 10% of people owned 90% of the assets of the entire year. This story highlighted to me that deciosn making and goal setting not only empowers you to achieve in life but also that prosperity becomes a valuable by-product.
Let me finish with five tips to effective goal setting:
- Allocate time to dream and plan and for the year ahead. Get your diary and make an appointment with yourself to cast your vision and set your goals for 2012.
- You must write your goals down – it’s not enough just to think about them. Connect what is in your head and heart to pen and paper… or keyboard and computer.
- Goals should be specific and stretching but also doable. Remember SMART goals work – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic with a Timeframe.
- Establish why you want to achieve the goal. When times get tough and your goal gets challenged, the why is what will keep you focused and persistent. Jim Rohn says, ‘When the “Why” gets stronger, the “How” gets easier. Purpose is stronger than Object.’
- Set goals for what you want to DO, what you want to HAVE and for whom you want to BE.
As I write, I am sitting under a mosquito net on my bed in a quaint guest house, in Kitgum, which is a town in the northern part of Uganda only 40km away from the Sudan border. I am here with my husband who has been visiting this town for the last 12 years. This is my first visit. Everything is so new to me and I’m continually out of my comfort zone. The poverty is very real, and so is the red dust. For this trip we have hired a 4WD and we’ve been enjoying the experience of venturing out of the traffic congested city streets of Kampala to visit the towns along the rough and tumble dirt roads across outback Uganda.
Today my husband and I were involved in teaching a group of community leaders about personal progress. We heard some amazing stories. Some sad. Some inspiring. Some heroic. Some that need to be shared…
Of a group of approximately 30 people, almost 95% of them had lived in an IDP camp (Internally Displaced People’s camp). We passed these camps on our travels along the dirt roads. Now abandoned, they consisted of large areas with a multitude of round mud huts with thatched roofs. Here the Ugandan people lived as it was a safe place from the rebels who were terrorising the people of this land. Today I heard from the people what it was like to be in one of these camps for many years and how they were looked after by the government or world food organisations. They were given everything – from the shelter they lived in, to their daily food and the cups and plates they drank and ate from. In exchange for safety, shelter and supplies they traded their dignity, and sense of personal power and pride. For years the people could not and did not work. As a consequence, many of the men became angry and they turned to drinking and AIDs multiplied throughout the camps.
I admire the resilience of the Ugandans, especially the women. They have had to contend with so much. Many of them have lost husbands and children – some to AIDS, others to war. But they continue to raise their families and smile, sing and dance to the beat of the drums they play.
The war is now over and the LRA rebels (Lord Resistance Army) have left Uganda and are now hiding in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In these northern parts of Uganda – it is now time for the people to focus on both the restoration of things lost and to take action to ensure future progress. Yesterday my husband and I shared about practical steps to progress. We focused on encouraging the people to start new businesses. It dawned on me wherever we are in the world the principles of progress are all the same…
1. Multiply What is in Your Hands
Small business always starts by looking at the skills, resources, knowledge and talents that are already in your hands…in your life.
2. Get an Idea and a Plan
Before anything is birthed there has to be an idea or a vision. However an idea needs to be then enlarged into a plan…a strategy…the practical steps detailing how the idea is going to come to pass.
3. Seek Advice
No matter what you do that is new it is always wise to seek the counsel of those who are experienced in the field. Don’t do it alone.
4. Be Integrous
One Ugandan man shared a story of how when he farms and sells his produce that 1 kilo is always 1 kilo, whereas others he knew would be dishonest with their weights. Interestingly his business grew larger than his peers even to the point of World Vision and some other large NGO’s buying his produce. Businesses that are founded on integrity will always be blessed.
5. Little by Little – Step by Step
Personal and business growth generally occurs little by little, step by step. We must be committed to walking each and every step. Miss one step and we may miss out.
6. Work Hard
There are many proverbs that talk about how laziness leads to poverty. Any progress demands work – hard work and smart work. I love this proverb…
‘Go to the ant, you sluggard, consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer, no ruler yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.’
On the weekend I watched a TV documentary that described the remarkable account of the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon stream in downtown Seoul in South Korea. I found this story extraordinary on so many different levels. Let me take a moment to briefly tell you about it and most importantly why it captured my heart…
A stream ran through the centre of the ever expanding city of Seoul. Sixty years ago it was described as filthy. Local families, who lived on the banks of the stream, banned their children from playing in it as it was heavily polluted with sewerage. As the city’s population grew so did the need for increased road infrastructure and a large elevated highway was constructed right on top of the stream. The stream was lost as it became buried under tonnes of concrete. The area became known as a symbol of industrialization and modernization.
Then one day, one man had a wild and wonderful idea…to restore the stream. He wanted not only to uncover the hidden stream but to transform the quality of the water so it would be clear and sparkling. He had a dream to provide a place in the heart of the city that would be natural and a focal point around which festivities would take place. For this to happen, the enormous road system had to be pulled down. I just have to pause for a moment and say – WOW! What an incredible dream. It never ceases to amaze me how people can do extraordinary things just because they dare to imagine, dare to speak out loud a notion and dare to step out and take action. This is what he did.
He spoke his dream to others, including the Mayor of the city, who came to believe in the huge benefits of restoring this stream and building a place of life in the heart of the city. The project took years to complete and cost $900million. The results were extraordinary. The stream and more importantly some history, culture and environment were restored to the people and city of Seoul.
Apart from this story being a wonderful example of vision and achievement it also highlights to me the power of transformation. For days after seeing this documentary I could not stop thinking about the analogy of this stream to most people’s lives – my own included. How our inner world can be damaged and tainted by ‘sewer’ – such as insecurity, shame, rejection, grief, fear, anger…or other damaging emotions. For many, it can be easier to cover over the damaged parts of our soul and to pretend that everything is okay or to try and forget that there are unresolved issues lying just beneath the surface of our daily lives.
Many of us have had childhoods or experiences that have left us with wounds. We can choose to live hiding the damaged parts of us or we can be brave and expose the wounded areas of our heart and seek to be healed, restored and transformed. Just like this stream that went from being a sewer to a crystal clear glorious life giving stream. That too can be our lives. We must have the courage to rip away the facades we have erected, the behaviours we have adopted and to deal with the ‘crap’ inside our hearts. For me, this meant some soul searching, some crying and some counselling. It took months or should I say years. It was a process…and a journey…to uncover the pain and to be set free. This TV documentary was a valuable reminder how on the other side of reconstruction and transformation is a powerful beauty that will bring great benefits and blessings.
‘Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives.’ – Quote Mary Ann Brussat
It’s the first day of spring today. The sun is warmer, the days longer and the plants are sprouting buds. I love this time of the year as we let go of winter and move into this season of new growth. I find it interesting, that sometimes the natural seasons reflect what is happening in my own life. This week I have walked through two significant life events which have required me to ‘let go’ so growth will occur. The first is that today I say goodbye to my original coaching business ‘Your Cafe Coach’ and am excited to say that I am launching my new business ‘My Personal Coach’…more about that in a moment. The second event touched me as a parent, because yesterday I farewelled my 16 year old son to go and live in Japan on a student exchange program for half a year. This follows only 3 months earlier saying goodbye to my daughter who is travelling and working for most of this year throughout Europe. Last night was the first night my husband and I sat at home as ‘empty nesters’. Both events have been such an interesting journey of embracing and supporting growth by letting go.
“There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.” – Quote unknown
Five years ago I established, Your Cafe Coach, and I’ve had the privilege of coaching many people and helping them grow in awareness and confidence, and to see them move forward into their future. It brings me such joy to partner with precious individuals so they can find greater meaning and fulfilment in their life. When I first started Your Cafe Coach, I loved the name and what it represented… enjoying a coffee whilst coaching people in cafes around Sydney. Interestingly though as my business grew so did the modes of coaching. I found myself doing more and more coaching via phone and Skype and to people living beyond Sydney and Australia. As growth occurred the ‘cafe’ part of my business name lost its validity. I also have to laugh because on occasions when I introduced my business to people they thought I coached cafe owners or taught people about coffee. So as time passed, I realized for growth to occur it was time to rebrand and relaunch my business with a new name and new programs.
After a journey of 5 months today I am officially launching – My Personal Coach. I now love my new business name and all that it represents – that coaching is all about you and your personal growth and that the coaching partnership is a powerful and a personal relationship. After you finish reading this blog I would love for you to have a wander through my website. For growth to occur in my business I had to dream and strategise but I also had to let go. My web guy, Robbie, asked me a number of weeks ago if he could close down my ‘Your Cafe Coach’ website. My reply to him was “no, not yet, I have to have a funeral for it.” I’m a bit like that. I need to stop and process a ‘letting go’ moment. So today I bid adieu, to welcome in the new.
Yesterday I also farewelled my son to go and live for the remainder of this year in the country that he is so passionate about – Japan. Since he was 15, he has been declaring that he would go and live in Japan. For awhile I got away with saying to him, “that’s nice, perhaps you can go and live there when you do university”. The requests though became more incessant and as a parent, I knew I had to support this strong desire and dream. I did not want my son, to miss an opportunity to grow, and to step into his passion and dare I say it his purpose. I know that the journey of getting him to Japan has been such an amazing confidence journey and faith adventure for him – especially as the earthquake and tsunami looked like it was going to stop him from going. I also know that his stay there will provide opportunities for him to personally grow in ways that I cannot even begin to imagine. As his mum, I am so proud of him. But yesterday, I was also so sad. This letting go stuff can be painful at times. To hold onto him though would not have been good. We must let go of others so they can grow.
As parents we have this amazing tussle of holding on, nurturing and cherishing … but also of releasing and letting go. I remember many years ago when I finished breast feeding my son, a girlfriend said these wise words to me ‘Parenting is a constant weaning process’. I have held onto this advice in the times I have had to ‘wean’ my children. Yesterday was one of them.
So my friend, sometimes for growth and the ‘new’ to occur we have to let go and say goodbye to the old. Where does this message fit in your world today? Do you have a relationship you need to move on from…someone you need to let go of so they can grow… a part of your business to shut down… or more excitingly a new opportunity, career or relationship to embrace. Let me leave you with these two thoughts:
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – Havelock Ellis
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” – Herman Hesse
I believe if people and businesses remain the same they slowly die. If we are not moving forward then we are going backwards. We must constantly be looking at and asking ourselves these questions: ‘How can I improve? How can I expand? What is limiting my growth? How can I strengthen my weaknesses?’ To intentionalize change means you purposefully desire, decide and put action into bringing something new into your life. When you change you become different, you are transformed, enforcing yourself through a process of metamorphosis. I love this simple definition of change, ‘to put on new clothes.’ What a great image! When we change something on the inside of ourselves, it’s similar to putting on a different set of clothes. New look, new style, new confidence, a new you!
Desire to Change
The power to change will only come from an insatiable hunger within our being. Pressure from other people or circumstances may compel us to have to change but the most potent force is the deep yearning of discontentment and resolve to purposefully bring personal reformation.
Decide to Change
The decision making process of change is practical and strategic. You must firstly visualize the outcome and ask yourself these questions: What does it look like with this change in my life? What has altered? What am I doing differently? Now you need to see a pathway of how you are going to get from where you are now, to your new amended image. Write down some specific goals with time deadlines and identify any ‘things-to-do’ which will help you implement your changes.
Action to Change
My Thesaurus states to change is, ‘about turn!’ To bring change demands an aggressive response. It requires resolute soldier-like action. It takes a willful step to sometimes do the exact opposite of what you have been doing up until now or a radical purposeful step to push through any obstacle that may be hindering or confronting you.
Cost of Change
There’s a famous quote that states, ‘We change when the cost of staying the same is higher than the pain to change.’ To change means facing weakness, confronting fears, pushing through comfort zones, changing habits and strengthening personal disciplines. Change means pain; there will be some ‘ouch!’ involved. To remain the same however means the pain of regret and not maximizing your full potential.
Value of Change
Change brings personal growth. John Maxwell declares ‘In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves. All great leaders have understood that their number one responsibility was for their own self discipline and personal growth.’ I truly believe before we can influence or change others we must firstly have been able to change our own lives and then by our example others will follow.
Let me leave you with the words of the philosopher William James (1842-1910); ‘To change one’s life. Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.’