For me, springtime is a great natural setting for reviewing personal goals to either reaffirm my priorities or reevaluate them. I’ve found that many of my long term goals change over time. Goal setting then becomes more like a building process than a once-per-year publishing process.
I’ve always appreciated taking advice and input from others when looking at my own goals. Obviously close friends and family that know me best can help shed light on the things that need improved to reach my more outlandish goals. My wife does this on a weekly basis. However, as I get older I lean less on the input of others and have decided that I understand my own strengths and limitations much better. More often than not, my decisions that are contrary to advice of others end up being the most fulfilling in the end. These decisions can be self-seeking at times and it may just be what is needed to get to the finish line, but finishing the worthwhile races means believing in the cause. When the goal is just for me, its a commitment, but when it also positively benefits others, it’s a passion. In other words, don’t just do well. Do good too.
I’ve also learned that as important as goal setting is, an equally important exercise is writing down the things for which I am thankful. In this endless game of ‘todo’ items that lead up to the things we want to ‘achieve’, we are always reminded of what we want but have not yet obtained. This is not necessarily an unhealthy revelation, especially for goals built on noble intentions. I does however push us towards the tendency to focus more on things we do not have than the things we do. This is why I started my own personal accomplishments list that gets amended and reviewed each year along side my goals (read: long term todo list). Drawing on stories of remarkable wisdom from people near the end of their lives, I’ve tried to focus on personal accomplishments that were meaningful. These are not items that highlight my perceived ‘successes’ but rather my actions that made the most positive difference. When I really looked at this, the most fulfilling items on my list had to do helping, inspiring or otherwise enriching the lives of others around me. For example, committing to a missionary trip, certain important personal conversations that I’ve had with close friends, and of course becoming a father rank high on my own list.
Strive to be meaningful, not successful. Aim for relevance, not renown. I encourage others to consider building your own meaningful achievements list and to review it regularly along with your personal goals. It will change your outlook for the better.