After a star-filled sky helped me find perspective at the end 2020, I turned to philosophy for some more practical advice with which to stride into 2021. I read, and was enthused at the stoic tradition, and laid those books down with a single idea that kept looping in my thoughts, 

‘It’s worth reducing my expectations of the world and people around me, and rather shift to amplifying my personal aspirations.’

I do not think it’s negative or pessimistic to take this view, but merely pragmatic and opens more opportunity to be pleasantly surprised. I like that. It did, however, make me think about aspiration. 

What do I want? What do I desire? What is worth pursuing? I immediately went to – what are my goals? And what would success look like in December 2021? 

For the past decade, I have pulled out the wheel-of-life sheet (that coaches love so much) and plotted my annual goals. It’s been a ritual that sets a tone and intent for the year – and in most cases, when I check these against my actual progress, I am pleasantly surprised.

I was thus curious to read that only 3% of people do this. I have not always thought too clearly about why I do it, but have noticed a peculiar pattern as to why so many people do not do it. This is purely anecdotal but consistent across family, friends, clients and colleagues.

The consensus view is that they do not set goals because they do not wish to fail in achieving them. Hmmm … so, they have goals but prefer not to articulate them clearly against a timeline because they have learnt that it is unlikely they will achieve all these goals. I completely agree that they will not achieve them, but here is what research suggests – the successful completion of a goal is not what makes goal setting useful. In fact, of the 3% that set goals, only 11% achieve them all – the return is dismal. Or is it?

Apparently, the usefulness of setting goals is that it brings into tangible awareness what you aspire to. How this helps is that your brain then regularly scans the environment for any opportunities, openings, situations, people and or conversations that will help you achieve those goals. The goals become a laser that helps you to focus on the things that could help you achieve the goals you have set. What this means is that although you had a big goal for 2021, it is likely that you may not achieve it in 2021, but it could come to reality in 2022. However, if you do not set any goals then you will just bumble along, missing all the goals and support the world is offering you to get closer to what you aspire to. Make sense?

So, my nudge to you is to sit down and funnel your aspirations into tangible goals. Then, for a more advanced level of awareness, create a daily intention to be present to the opportunities around you through reflection and journaling – as goal and aspiration reminders.

Let’s grow the percentage of people who live life with purpose and meaning, and achieve the best of themselves by daily presence to their bigger aspirations.

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