Those Who Fail To Learn (Their Own) History…

Christmas has passed. Fresh, whimsical calendars are making their ways onto kitchen walls across the globe. And already, people’s blogs, websites, and Facebook pages are displaying a whole bevy of ambitious goals and resolutions intended for 2016.

And myself? I won’t be joining in the new year’s goals setting nor resolutions listings.

In all honesty, I really don’t find much use for goals. Having a specific–yet-arbitrary target to reach doesn’t really motivate me all that much. And during those infrequent occasions where I actually have put a concrete plan into action — and then reached the final objective — my reaction to the outcome has almost always been, “Soooooooo… I’ve reached my goal… So what? And now what?”

The vast majority of my achievements in life (and I’d like to think I’ve achieved quite a lot) have been due to a particular aspect of my personality and drive — namely, that I’ve put huge amounts of effort into recognizing the opportunities that surround me.

Each and every single one of us is surrounded by opportunities — countless and amazing opportunities. It’s the ability to recognize opportunities in the present, along with a willingness to take action, that allows for successes in the future.

Now, just to make sure my words aren’t misinterpreted in any way: when I say that I do my best to recognize the opportunities around me, I am not — AM NOT — talking about being opportunistic. I really don’t want to take advantage of anyone. And I’m not driven by some mad desire to purposefully get ahead of anybody else. I’m simply acknowledging the fact that our lives are filled with options — that some of these options are more favorable than others — and that there’s a skill set involved in recognizing the more favorable options.

That skill set — and the refinement of that skill set — is a key driver of success.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Well, during the course of the next few days, I plan on doing a good amount of self-review — some of it fairly uncomfortable — where I make a case study of my own personal history, and really deep dive into the opportunities won and lost during the course of this past year. I’m absolutely convinced that without a examination of the year’s opportunities, actions, and results, I’d be inclined to make the same mistakes over again. For me, the obvious way to avoid repeated gaffes and miscalculations in the new year is to set aside a bit of time, take an in-depth look at the “how” and “why” of what’s worked in the past, admit to what hasn’t worked, and then use that information as guidance in the future

To put a bit of structure to the whole process, I’ve come up with a list of five questions to ask myself — five questions that examine my ability to recognize opportunities, while also deconstructing the actions that have lead to the year’s successes AND failures.

The five questions are:

1) What opportunities came my way this past year that I both recognized and took action upon?

2) What opportunities came my way this year that I recognized but didn’t take action on, and why didn’t I follow through?

3) What opportunities did I completely miss — that I only now recognize in hindsight — and why did I fail to recognize the opportunity when it initially presented itself to me?

4) How have I benefited from the opportunities I’ve recognized and acted upon?

5) What have been the costs involved with not recognizing opportunities, or failing to act on apparent opportunities?

Okay…. Technically, there are more than five questions being asked, but you get the point.

The key takeaway from all this — my key takeaway — is that once the review is completed and the “what, “how,” and “why’s” of the past year are examined in detail, my skill at spotting future opportunities should be even more refined.

And what can you take away from all this?

Well, even if you are the sort of personality type who’s driven by goals — or who simply enjoys making a resolutions list as part of the New Year’s tradition — a deep dive into the past year’s opportunities will provide real insight into how much abundance you/we/all of us are surrounded by on a daily basis.

Acknowledge all that has been offered to you.

Take action on what is in front of you.

Use the past and the present to guide your future.

And have a great 2016.

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