We’ve turned a new page on the calendar. The dawn of January ushers in a season of goal- and resolution-setting. Of course, setting those targets is not the same thing as achieving them. If this year follows the pattern of previous years, 80% of New Year’s resolutions will be forgotten by mid-February. You can, however, beat those odds. The resolutions you’ve made don’t need to fall off the rails before the first quarter expires. With persistence and love, you will always get where you are supposed to go on your journey.
“Just Keep Swimming”
Perhaps one of the most insightful bits of advice ever uttered in animated film came from a forgetful blue fish named Dory in Pixar’s Finding Nemo. “When life gets you down, know what you got to do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming,” opined Dory. It’s a catchy refrain set to an even catchier tune, but more than that, it’s wise. Reaching your goals may require you to push past whatever roadblocks are put in front of you. Success comes when you persist. Don’t give in. Keep going forward.
Determination vs Intellect
Success isn’t reserved for the best and the brightest. It comes to those who persist. Just ask Albert Einstein who once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” You’re going to confront challenges to meeting your goals. You’ll stall. You’ll slip. You’ll hit the wall. Moving past those delays doesn’t require superior intellect. Stumbling isn’t a statement about your wit and wisdom. Dust yourself off and keep at it. Tackle the problems you face from new angles. Test alternative solutions. Stick with it.
Fly. Walk. Crawl. Just go.
When we set goals and resolutions, we set out with a bunch of enthusiasm, and hopefully with a plan on how we’re going to get there. And then we stumble. The plan doesn’t quite pan out the way we thought it would. The map to our success is suddenly riddled with detours and that’s when many get distracted enough to give up. Your way to achieving your goals may look different than you thought it would, but adapting to unexpected terrain is part of how you’ll successfully reach the finish line. As Martin Luther King, Jr said, “If you can't fly, then run, if you can't run, then walk, if you can't walk, then crawl but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
10,001 tries and counting
Failure, after failure, after failure can weigh a person down. Or at least it can if you consider each attempt that didn’t land where you hoped it would as a failure instead of as an excuse to try again in a different way. Inventor Thomas Edison knew a little something about the try and try again motto. He said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Imagine if Edison had given up finding the right mass-producible filament for his version of the light bulb after the third try. Imagine if he didn’t pursue work on the phonograph or the movie camera or the alkaline storage battery. You’ve not failed. You’ve learned a way that won’t work and now it’s time to dust yourself off and try again.
Rest. Regroup. Relaunch.
Let’s be clear about this, friends. The above quotes aren’t suggesting you create a plan and relentlessly press forward as it was originally constructed. You may fall. When you do, get back up. Evaluate what caused the stumble. Make adjustments to the plan and try again. You may get worn down. When you’re exhausted and energy has drained, carve out time to recharge. Then regroup and get back on your way toward your (adjusted) goal. Anything worth achieving is going to take work. Put the work in for it. You’ve got this!