Haven’t Hit Your 2016 Goals Yet? Be Grateful

We all hear it. That clock’s ticking down to New Years Day 2017. While the ushering in of a new year brings lots of promise and fresh beginnings, it also puts a very definitive period on the 365 days that preceeded it. And just like that, when the clock strikes midnight just a few weeks from now, you’ll have either hit your 2016 goals or you will not have. There is no in between once this chapter has closed.

I don’t have to tell you there are tons of ways to stay motivated this holiday season. We’ve even touched on a few in this blog. But I recently read a post by Michael Hyatt, one of my mentors, and his strategy for staying on track and hitting goals was so unique I just had to share.

It’s gratitude. Yes, gratitude. Doesn’t make sense at first, does it? How would being thankful for what you have now get you to where you want to be? Isn’t gratitude something you should practice after you’ve reached your target? Michael doesn’t think so, and researchers – not to mention a few successful entrepreneurs who practice this strategy – seem to agree.

It is definitely the season for giving and for remaining thankful for all our blessings, but this shouldn’t be the only time of year we show our appreciation for what we have. The book “Designing Positive Psychology” outlines a study in which students who were outwardly grateful for what they had already achieved were also closer to reaching their next goals than students who didn’t express this kind of appreciation. The study concluded that gratitude can actually “enhance effortful goal striving,” which is the opposite of what many people falsely think. Most assume that if we’re grateful for where we are now, then we lack the motivation to do, seek and achieve more. This study shows this is not true.

Patience is another great virtue, especially as it relates to a gracious mentality. Impatient people often take the easy way out, sacrificing long-term achievement for instant gratification. This is a short-sighted perspective. One that is sure to leave you feeling less than fulfilled over the long run.

Finally, a grateful attitude lowers your stress level. One of the reasons our society is so attracted to the instant gratification option is because we can make a choice and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that task is now over – even if it didn’t yield the results we would have ultimately wanted. The book’s authors also point out that “the evidence strongly supports the supposition that gratitude promotes adaptive coping and personal growth.” Rather than giving into temptation as a way to cope with stress, being grateful for what we do have can reduce our negative feelings surrounding the task at hand.

So what have you been avoiding, deprioritizing or taking for granted in your life? What goals could you achieve if you removed those obstacles? A year may be a long time – or not long enough – to achieve some of the goals on your list. But I bet if you worked at it, slowly making progress for those 365 days, you would see exponentially more positive results than if you found a half-witted reason to opt out. This year may have less than 30 days left, but it’s still plenty of time to push that boulder. If you worked at it a little each day until you’re clinking champagne flutes on New Years Eve, I bet you’d be amazed to see just how far you’ve come if you retraced your steps.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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