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The best way to predict the future is to create it...

So you've never done it before...?

To everything there is a season. By the time you read this it will be too late to wish people “Happy New Year” but about on time to realise that the resolutions you made over the second glass of port just will not be delivered. So, let’s recognise reality, be creative and consider “Change through Wisdom”, for ourselves and our clients.

Instead of resolutions, I suggest goals to cover the things you want to do or achieve. Without them, life will slip by with nothing changing and nothing improving. Even if your life is already great, there are bound to be things that could make it even more enticing.

So your goals for the year should be to Enjoy and to Achieve: things you like doing and want to do more of and things you want to achieve even though they might involve some effort. Perhaps also some matters you don't want to touch, but must in order to reach your goals, which could be for 2014 or, for the list makers, “the 50 things I want to do before I die”.

And remember that Enjoy should cover work as well as home, and Achieve should cover home as well as work.  The Dalai Lama would have us “Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”

How do these goals differ from mostly-doomed New Year's Resolutions? Well, a good NYR could work, but mostly we do not detail them: (this year I want to get more exercise); we, even as management consultants, have no plan (this year I want to get into writing apps); we set negative goals (I'm going to give up smoking); and we do not commit (I'll try and maybe drink less).

So goals involve determining clear and positive outcomes, supported by a plan of how you will get there. This is not crystal ball gazing, but the best way to predict the future is to create it. Success is enhanced by a transparent commitment to yourself, for instance by putting the steps into your diary and telling others about them.

Enjoyment is heightened when the Achievement is meaningfully adventurous. While there is nothing wrong with growing any helpful aspect of a client’s business by 10% over the previous year – indeed, growing anything must be considered an achievement these days. However, incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy while planning to double or multiply by a factor is an exhilarating goal. Donald Trump advised that “as long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big”.

There is also sport to be had in slaying the nay-sayers, which category often includes ourselves. “Reasons” advanced to support the impossibility will always include:

·        We tried it before and it didn’t work;

·        We don’t have the people, the time available, the money, the ….;

·        The market isn’t there;

·        Our competitors would react;

·        We have never done it before.

The last is wonderful because that means all thoughts are equally valid and that no ideas can be considered bad. Importantly, the young can be given the opportunity to succeed during the time the seasoned are arguing that they cannot.   

This is not to decry big objectives or BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals – as diplomatically expressed) but they can be overwhelming to some people. My message is to eat your elephants a bite at a time: bite-sized actions deliver great achievements.

The tendency is to nod wisely in total agreement, even with oneself, and then get on with life. 

However, unless we take action and JDI (a variant of a better-known acronym), all the brilliant thinking, advice and sage sayings in the world are nothing but froth.

Taking action, knowing that the lingering lethargy of the long break, the warm glow from the first port and plain denial are trying to change our minds for us, gives a great sensation of well-being and accomplishment.

That can’t be a bad thing at any time because,” I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today.” And now is the season.

David Glassman