I love the John Lennon song that starts “And so this is Christmas and what have you done?”. It’s a sort of bench-mark for the year and always makes me stop and reflect. This year I really felt I could hold my head up high. My last piece for The Networker was about turning ”someday” dreams into tangible goals. And to ”walk my talk” I was just about to set off on a two-month business/pleasure world trip, presenting my workshop and attending the International Coaching Conference in Vancouver. The trip was to culminate with three weeks in South America, sailing up the Amazon and trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Puchu in Peru. Trekking the Inca Trail has been a lifetime dream that this year became a firm goal. I did it and it feels wonderful! For me, the oldest and certainly not the fittest in the group, the Inca Trail was one of the most exhilarating, exhausting and at times terrifying, experiences of my life. Many of the experiences were fabulous reinforcements of goal-planning principles that could apply to any type of goal. So to end the year, I’d like to share with you just some of those experiences and learnings I had along the way. I hope they will be of value to you as you plan your new year goals.
- Bring joy and ease into your goal setting. My very brief and specific goal was “I have trekked the Inca Trail in 2000 in good health”. It met all the goal-setting criteria, but oh boy.! I often wished I had added in the words “with joy and ease”.
- You don’t have to be the Lone Ranger to achieve your goals. Although it was my own two legs that carried me every step of the trek, the high altitude and lack of oxygen took its toll on my energy and speed, so I really had to let others support me and be on my team. There was Pancho, the wonderful Indian porter, who carried my daypack and made me stop and rest; and David, a super-fit athletic type, who came back down the trail on the steepest and toughest day to walk the last kilometre to camp with me. I’ll always remember his words. “We’re not there till we’re all there”.
- When there is no choice but to go forward. you go forward. There was no ”out” clause on this trek unless I was injured. I would gaze longingly at the occasional tourist helicopters, as they turned the five-day trek into a short flight. But without the option of giving up or going back, it was amazing how my intention and determination would renew.
- Thank goodness for selective memory. Achieving a big goal can be a bit like having a baby. At the time you swear you’ll never do it again but as the memory of the pain and effort fades you remember only the good bits and the joyful outcome. How many of you would have taken that giant business or career leap if you had known what was ahead?
- Why am I doing this? I asked myself this often. Why hadn’t I settled for three weeks in the Whitsunday’s? What was I trying to prove by taking the hard route? For the first time I think I really understood what drives explorers to put themselves through hell for the spiritual joy of victory and achievement over the elements.
Now as the memory of the challenge and the effort start to recede, it’s the feeling of exhilaration and achievement that will remain with me. So as the year 2006 draws to a close it is time to stop, reflect and celebrate what you have done, what you have achieved and what you have learned. about your-self and about your business. Acknowledge how you have grown and in what ways you have become stronger. Then, from that liberating platform of growth and success, plan your goals for the new year. Have a great year!