My Husband and I went and saw the movie “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon, based on Cheryl Strayed’s novel. The movie was exhilarating to me because I loved the book. I will warn you, if you aren’t into colorful language and racy sex scenes – the movie may not be for you. While Cheryl quoted many famous authors and poets throughout the movie – the quote that stuck with me was “We are never prepared for what we expect.” by James A. Michener. The quote reminds me that often people strive for goals that they never really prepare themselves to achieve.
This time of year, we make resolutions. Vows to ourselves to become thinner, richer, more organized, more at peace with ourselves, better connected to loved ones. We scheme up (sometimes elaborate) plans on how to achieve these goals, and many of us roll our sleeves up and dive into the waters of goal achievement. We get entirely wrapped up in the pursuit of the goal, but what we fail to do, is prepare ourselves for the blessings our goal achievement will bring once it has been achieved. This is like hiking a mountain, getting engrossed in following the trails, climbing the elevation step by step, only to have to turn around at the summit because you were unprepared for the conditions at the top. I’ve had this happen myself, and I have seen it happen to friends, family and colleagues. Over and over again, they blaze trails to their goals, only to reach the summit and it’s not at all what they expected.
My personal experience with this was years ago, I joined a weight loss program and lost more weight than I ever had in my life. Once I got to goal weight, I was unprepared for the reaction my weight loss would bring – both positive and negative. I wasn’t prepared for the conditions and quickly retreated from the summit. It was in that lesson I learned you must be just as prepared for the conditions at the summit of your journey as you are for the journey itself.
Create a clear vision of what your life will look like once you have achieved your goals. Ask yourself these questions: How will I feel? What will other peoples reactions be towards me? What will be different about my life (both positive and negative)? How will I act differently? How will my habits change? Will my circle of friends change as a result of my new lifestyle? How will I be prepared for those reactions? I listen to a lot of Dave Ramsey – and during his radio shows, he invites people to do their “Debt Free Scream.” While he interviews them, he asks them “What do your friends and family think of you being out of debt?!” And often times, they tell Dave “They think we are weird” or “They thought we were crazy.” Other reactions were of jealousy, and no longer fitting in with old friends who didn’t support their new lifestyles. Your positive achievement – your ultimate winning outcome may be hard for other people to deal with for many reasons. Thinking these situations through will make it easier for you to enjoy the glory of your success while realizing that not everyone will be celebrating with you.
Be prepared to keep hiking. One sobering sentence I heard while achieving weight loss was “What you are doing to lose the weight, you will have to do the rest of your life to keep off the weight.” Her point in saying it was – this is a lifestyle change. If your goal is to become more organized, you must create habits that support your new (organized) lifestyle, so really, the goal is not to become more organized – the goal is to create and practice the habits that make you more organized.
Study your progress and progression daily. We often get so caught up in the process of goal achievement, we don’t look up from our paths to see how far we have come. Ease into your new lifestyle by celebrating small successes, and living in the moment. It’s ok to look back as long as you are measuring how far you’ve come. Help others recognize and acclimate to the “new you” by inviting them to share their experiences, but resist boasting about your own achievements. Remember a Trail Blazer blazes the trail to make it easy for others to follow, and we do that by walking the talk, showing the way, and extending a hand for those who are willing to follow your lead.
Until then adventurous and bravehearted Trail Blazers,
Hit the Heights
Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
The Natural Business Leadership Guide