Progress report: With the first month of the new year nearly behind me, I’m not at all concerned about making my goals for the year.
That’s not hubris. It’s certainty. I already know I won’t achieve them—or at least all of them— and I’ve chosen to live free of the shame that comes with certain failure. Instead, I’m more concerned about the size of the goals I’m stretching toward than failure that comes from over-reaching.
For too many years I’ve lived with a fixed mindset that sees success only in terms of completed goals (in just the way I originally wrote them), rather than in the learning and growth that comes from a difficult pursuit. At the end of a year, when I would reflect on all the goals I didn’t accomplish, my fixed mindset would indict me of failure—my failure. As evidence for the jury, I’d submit the many exhibits of excellence from those doing the very thing I set out to do; often in less time. Surely it can be done. Just not by me.
If the size of your vision for your life isn’t intimidating to you, there’s a good chance it’s insulting to God.” — Steve Furtick
The inevitable conclusion of a fixed mindset toward failure: I don’t have what it takes. And the only way to survive that nagging reminder is to settle for more modest goals; even the kind that you write down only after you’ve done them. That way, at least, you get the satisfaction of checking something off the list. Or worse, you stop keeping a list altogether.
But enough of that for me. I made my mind up some time ago that I don’t want to play it safe; not if “safe” means lowering my reach because my past failure. That’s self-protection, not growth. When I set out to achieve more ambitious goals, even if I fail, at least I:
- Am farther along than I otherwise would have been. That’s progress.
- Gained greater awareness of why the goal is important to me. That’s insight.
- Learned ways to overcome the resistance I encountered in pursuing the goal. That’s discipline.
Above all, when I set more ambitious goals (even expecting failure), I learn to accept my limitations not as an indictment, but a place from which I can grow. That’s humility. And that’s progress.
How ambitious are your goals this year and how would you feel about not achieving them?