One Goal – How will you stay focused in 2024?
“What’s your New Year’s resolution?” was the question asked by one of the group of people I was sitting with just before Christmas.
A few people shrugged whilst two others responded with the age-old classic of go to the gym more often.
“I plan to take up calligraphy,” the individual then said once the question was directed back at him.
“Oh, that’s great,” I replied, surprised that this individual who I knew worked in IT had a creative streak they wanted to explore.
“What about you Rob?” I was then asked after I’d learned all about where my friend’s desire to learn calligraphy had come from.
“Well, I guess that I don’t really ‘do’ New Year’s resolutions,” I responded.
“What I do,” I responded, having given the question some more thought, “is I set myself a goal for what I want to achieve in the year and then ensure I’m clear on my guide rails for everything else that’s important to me.”
Many years ago, I watched an interview with Jim Carey, the famous actor. In this clip he described that when he was struggling before making it big, he wrote himself a cheque for $10m with his goal being that one day he would become so famous that he could cash it. He then folded the cheque up and carried it in his wallet as a continual reminder of what he is aiming for.
At the time of watching this clip and being two years into my new portfolio career, I felt I was drifting. Things were going well, but I didn’t quite feel like I was achieving what I wanted. Borrowing Jim Carey’s concept, on New Year’s Day 2020 I wrote down on a small piece of paper the single biggest goal I wanted to achieve that year. I then folded it up and put it into my wallet. At the end of December that year I then took out the piece of paper and captured what I’d achieved, before then writing my new goal for 2021.
For every year since then I’ve applied this same approach. Whilst I don’t think there is anything profound about this concept, when I watched Jim Carey describe it, and then when I combined it with other approaches I’d heard, it helped give me a singular focus on what was the most critical thing that I needed to focus on for the year. And whenever decisions arose that challenged my priorities, what’s written on that piece of paper which sits in my wallet is what gives me my primary decision criteria.
Clear Guide Rails
For the other things that are important to me beyond the ‘one goal’ I establish guide rails. These are thresholds that tell me whether I’m line with what is most important to me. As a simple example of this, rather than set strict criteria around going to the gym, I know that above a certain weight I’m becoming unhealthy, and below a certain weight I’m also becoming unhealthy. Any trigger of these guide rails therefore causes me to take more considered action beyond that which I’m already adopting. For example, if I get above my upper limit weight then I push harder in my exercise regime, and if I go below my lower limit I ease back. The adoption of guide rails therefore gives me the boundaries that help me stay focused on who I am and why I’m here – i.e. they represent me living as my identity and purpose. And whilst it might seem that you can only have guide rails on certain types of activities, I apply them to anything that I consider to be important.
What’s your goal
Whilst I’m not a big believer in the concept of New Year’s resolutions, I do believe that key events throughout the year are useful ways to help us maintain focus on living as who we want to be whilst focusing on what is most important to us.
With the turning calendar from 2023 to 2024 my simple question for anyone reading this is:
What is your one goal for 2024?