It's that time of year when we look back on where we've been in order to strategize about where we're going. We set sales targets, develop marketing materials and plan product launches, often based on where we fell short.
What if, instead, we set goals based on where we're thriving?
1. Be open to the possibilities.
Recently, I went to my first yoga class in more than a year. Yoga used to be my go-to for staying in mental and physical shape, but I've been sidelined for the past year on house rest, with a severe case of Lyme disease.
I chose a uber-gentle, restorative class and decided ahead of time that rather than trying to push past my pain, I would honor every limitation and constriction. I've become acutely aware of heaviness and fatigue and where it's showing up in my body. It's kicked my mindfulness practice up a notch, as there's nothing like a debilitating set of symptoms to bring you back to the here and now.
So I was on my mat, already feeling the tightness in my chest and the aching in my ribs when the teacher gave her first instruction:
"Scan for any areas in your body that feel open and free."
Come again? I am fairly certain I un-yogically rolled my eyes, as my housebound body has felt neither open nor free for a full year.
Nevertheless, I humored her and began my body scan.
Breathing: difficult. Head: throbbing. Shoulder joints: painful. Arms: fatigued.
And then, lo and behold, as I sat crossed-legged on the mat and brought my awareness lower into my body, I realized my hips were actually kind of relaxed. And open. And maybe, possibly, something approaching free.
Having spent the past year focusing on constrictions and restrictions and reporting symptom after symptom to doctor after doctor, finding one space in my body that felt even close to free was, well, freeing.
That class changed my outlook. I began asking a question in other areas of my life, including professionally:
2. Ask: What is already working?
It's like the silver lining on steroids.
While it's easy to identify areas that need improvement, it can be more difficult, but equally helpful, to zero in on areas of your life where you're thriving, despite difficulty.
So, conduct your business scan: What are you doing well? What's one thing that's already working for you?
For me, it's writing. Given my physical limitations this year, I haven't been able to travel or teach. But I've gotten really good at sitting my butt in the chair and writing. I landed a literary agent, a book deal, a supportive online writing community, and I've completed several more manuscripts. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have accomplished these things if I'd been able to walk more than 25 feet without getting winded.
Being sidelined in one area can highlight another area that's compensating and working well. So the key is to identify that successful area, and keep finding ways to support yourself in doing more of it.
3. Build on solid ground.
I've written a lot about identifying what's holding you back, what's getting in your way, feeling negative emotions, finding the clutter, naming your fears, and other mindful tools for focus and productivity.
This is the opposite. Instead of asking what's broken and needs fixing, ask yourself what's going well in your business or organization and how you can expand on that.
Maybe you made great strides in customer service, or social media strategy. Maybe you were able to really connect in a meaningful way with clients. Can you commit to structuring your time in a way that incorporates more of that? Can you delegate or outsource tasks that keep you from focusing on the areas where you shine?
What are the strongest elements of your company culture? How might you strategize moving forward in a way that capitalizes on those strong points, rather than setting goals and making changes that aren't aligned with what's already working?
Based on how much writing I've been able to churn out this past year, I've committed to keeping up the flow with more structured schedules and productivity tools to minimize distractions. When did you find yourself in the flow? When did you or your team accomplish something you were proud of and how can you build more of that into your day, your month, your year, and your business?
Identifying and then routinely reminding yourself where you're already thriving, can re-focus your mindset on goals and strategies that support your strengths.