Here we are in the last quarter of 2017. For many of us, our organizations operate on a calendar year and that means the last quarter can make or break the year, at least in terms of meeting our annual goals.

If you are ahead of schedule on your goal achievement, congratulations. If you are on track, congratulations also. If you are behind, there is still a solid 2 ½ months to go.

In any of the three options mentioned above, it does bring a question to mind – how did we get here? Our achievement happens (or doesn’t happen) for very tangible reasons. Citing factors beyond our control is one way to explain falling short of our goals, or having exceeded them as well, I suppose. Some people who cite external factors may view them as unmovable roadblocks for their momentum.

Citing factors within our control is, in my view, a more accurate way of answering the question how did we get here. What are those factors within our control? Glad you asked! Some include:

  • What is our thinking process?
  • What are our attitudes and beliefs about the goals we have set?
  • How is our resilience when we experience setbacks?

Examining some of these questions will help us get a clear idea of how we arrived at the place we find ourselves, be it shortfall or success.

Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” What we think and how we think are the most important aspects of our achievement. Ford also said, “Thinking is the hardest work you will ever do.”

If we doubt our ability to achieve something, how likely are we to actually achieve it? Not very likely at all. If we have an optimistic attitude toward achieving something, does that guarantee our success? Of course not, yet an improved outlook can give us the freedom and encouragement to take action, or seek out the people or resources we need in order to be successful.

For our thinking to pay us dividends, we must know how to think. Thinking is NOT:

  • Allowing our past accomplishments to dictate our potential
  • Committing to doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result
  • Allowing someone’s negative image or perception of us to limit our creative actions

Productive thinking actually happens when we reflect on the questions we ask ourselves, or questions asked of us by others. And not just ordinary questions; rather, questions that are penetrating and challenge our present circumstances. The Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The quality of a person’s life will always be a direct reflection of the quality of questions they are willing to ask themselves.”

Questions allow us to increase the awareness we have of the situation. With greater awareness, we can actually “create” new and different approaches than we have “thought of” before. Questions allow us to become aware of our potential and not to expend valuable time or energy rehashing our past responses to what may have been similar circumstances.

With the goal of helping you examine your proximity to your annual goal accomplishment, consider a thoughtful response to some of the following questions. I don’t ask these to criticize or blame you – only to increase your awareness of how you got here. If you are not where you thought you’d be, these questions will help you plot a different course.

  1. When you set your original goals, how confident were you in your ability to accomplish them?
  2. When you set your original goals, how excited were you to work on those goals?
  3. How often did you reflect on those goals from then until now?
  4. What would be different in your life 6 months from now if you had met or exceeded your goals?
  5. What events impacted your motivation to act on your goals with persistence?
  6. What did you do in response to those events?
  7. What specifically will change in your daily activity as a result of your new awareness?
  8. What do you believe about your potential? (Be brutally honest)

I truly hope addressing some or all of these questions will help you better understand how you got here and, more importantly, will act as a springboard to help you better architect next year’s goals.

As always, I’m here to help if you’re stuck because I know being stuck stinks!

Best regards,