It is four weeks into the New Year and hopefully the so-called ‘January blues’ has not affected you.  Whether it’s the dismal winter weather or the anti climax after the Christmas holidays, it is customary for people to get to the end of January and feel deflated and lacking in enthusiasm.

On the other hand you may have spent a lot of time thinking about your goals. You are really pumped up about what the year could look like for your business or career and you can’t wait to get started on the actions you have committed to take.  Enthusiasm and optimism are great until you hit your first hurdle.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently.  She told me she had come across an article about some research that was conducted with survivors of the concentration camps during the holocaust.  Interestingly, the study showed that the people who had survived were not the optimists, as everyone would have expected.  It was the somewhat pessimistic people that survived the horrible ordeal of the concentration camps and came out alive.  I was really surprised by this until I heard the possible explanation.

It would appear that the optimists quickly gave up ever getting out alive even though their outlook had initially been very positive.  On the contrary, the pessimists had no illusions about how long their captivity would last and therefore had a more realistic expectation about their future, deciding to focus on how to make their time in the camp count rather than focusing on being rescued.

Goal setting is the easy part.  Surviving the long haul from setting a goal to seeing the reality of that goal is trickier.  What coaches, motivational speakers and other personal development gurus don’t focus on is what happens after you’ve set some really great goals and you hit the first hurdle.  Or get your first rejection.  Or the second.  Lose all the money you invested in that new project or product.  When you hit your first wall.  No one wants to be the bearer of bad news or to be accused of having a gloomy outlook.

Anyone can set lofty goals.  Anyone can pump themselves up with optimism and positive thinking especially after just having been around other optimistic people.  But it’s what you do when you find yourself in the valley that determines whether you will eventually get to the top of the mountain.  It’s the perseverance, the refusal to quit and the flexibility to change course when necessary that will get you to your intended destination.  It’s the consistency; the baby steps that you keep taking and the occasional leaps when they come that will lead to eventual success.

So don’t just stop at setting goals or New Year resolutions (or whatever else you choose to call them) for your business, work or personal life.  Instead decide that you will take the long view and be realistic about what it will take to achieve your goals.  By all means stay positive, but determine that no matter what happens or how long it takes, you will keep going.  And learn as much as you can along the way.  After all, the journey is just as important as the destination.

Reach Coaching