The end of the year is always hectic. You are wrapping up last minute obligations, projects and probably gifts. Spending time with family and friends is no doubt on your “To Do” list. And, you may be thinking about and planning for all that you want to achieve in the coming year.
The end of the year is also a time of reflection. Great businesses and successful individuals regularly reflect on their results. They relentlessly tell themselves the truth about their strengths, weaknesses and performance. They are also constantly on the lookout for opportunities to leverage, and threats to avoid, based upon a legitimate assessment of reality.
Their commitment to candor is rooted in this belief: You are exactly where you have earned the right to be. You are perfectly situated, organized and operated to achieve the results you are experiencing today.
Don’t you hate that?
The self we imagine would be a star in our chosen field or market leader in our industry. We would be healthy, financially secure and have perfect relationships. The truth seen in the light of reality is often quite different.
Even if things are going well, the most successful individuals and businesses know that tomorrow’s success is not guaranteed. Continually improving is more than an aspirational goal committed to a poster or screen saver. It is the minimum requirement for remaining relevant in your business, profession and life.
Nothing ever changes until we tell ourselves the truth. Here are five questions to start preparing today for different results tomorrow:
1. What is your desired future and is that in the realm of possibility? It is fine to stretch and dream, but certain realities cannot be ignored.My desired future in high school was to either replace Ringo as the drummer in the Beatles or play Division I college basketball. Neither was going to happen. I was too slow to play Division I basketball, and the Beatles were not going to replace Ringo with a kid from a small East Texas town.
The challenge, of course, is not allowing a preconceived notion of what is possible to limit your vision for the future. I was never going to play drums for the Beatles, but I did have the potential to play professionally if I had focused on the correct vision. You can’t ignore reality, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stretch its boundaries.
2. What are you really good at, and what do you suck at? The sooner you answer this question, the sooner you can focus your energy on leveraging your strengths and shoring up your weaknesses. Your future results aren’t necessarily defined by what you can and can’t do well. They may, however, require you to invest resources and effort to master that at which you do not excel today.
3. What is preventing you from achieving your results? Is there something you need to learn? Is it a matter of discipline and accountability? Most of us know what we need to do to deliver different results. We lack the discipline to do it. But, there are times when you do need to learn something new. Be honest about what is holding you back so that you can develop a plan to address it.
4. What are you willing to give up to achieve the results you want? You can have it all – or at least the vast majority of it. You just can’t have it all at once. You will have to prioritize, and that means giving something up at least temporarily to achieve the results you want.
5. How will you build and sustain the discipline to put your plans into action? The difference between occasional brilliance and consistent excellence is discipline. The motivational speaker adage that you can think your way to success is a lie. You only achieve results when you combine focused thinking with consistent action and hard work.
It is never too late to begin.The past is an important teacher, but it is not the defining factor for creating a future full of the results you want. If you want things to be better, you must begin doing things differently right now. But first, you have to tell yourself the truth.
Randy Pennington is a business performance expert, award-winning author and speaker, and leading authority on leadership, culture, and change. Through his engaging articles, books, and presentations, Randy teaches companies and associations how to make change work within their organization; achieve positive results; effectively lead through transformation efforts; and build a strong organizational culture to safeguard success.