Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eat All the Garbage You Want

Optimist’s Perspective

You are what you eat!

2010.04.06_FoodTray I’m sure you’ve heard that statement many times.  Often, it’s used to describe something about gastronomy.  I believe it applies just as well to our thought process.  Our mind produces the person out of the thoughts we let it consume.  If I let my mind be preoccupied with happiness and success, that’s what I’ll have.  If I think of failures and an inability to reach my goals, I will succeed only if by accident.

I’m not telling you anything new…at least I hope not.  What I’m sharing with you is more the result of some introspection over the past few weeks.

At the end of every quarter I review what goals I set out, and compare them to what I achieved.  Often, these are not the same.  I don’t mean that I fail at my goals, but that what I set out to achieve aren’t necessarily the results I get.  For example, Last year I wrote about setting a BHAG, after I’d been laid off, to find my next employer within three months, by September of 2009. 

I didn’t.

However, in the process I learned a lot more about myself and what I cared most about.  I learned what work environments I like and which don’t fit my personality.  When September came around, I decided to start a consulting firm to provide project management services and help outsource software development for small to medium sized companies.  I established a business name, created an online presence and setup shop. 

Strictly speaking, I didn’t achieve the goal I set out, but I achieved results that were, arguably, more pertinent.

2010.04.06_ChristopherColumbus I recently read a posting claiming that setting goals is overrated. The author believed that setting goals is useless since seldom does anyone achieve them.  However, this is the equivalent of dismissing the validity of a contract because of one faulty clause, or calling the attempt to find a new trade route to Asia a failure when Columbus landed in the Americas!  I call such thinking complete, utter nonsense.

But how is goal setting related to what you feed your mind?

The answer lies with the turmoil I felt this past quarter.  Looking back I realized I’d veered far away from the goals I’d set out.  I began to think that maybe I’d failed.  In fact, this defeatist thinking began to spill into my conversations with other professionals, until a good friend made a comment. 

I was having coffee with Sven Johnston of the WAOC fame who was able to get Orange County on the map on LinkedIn.  He asked me about the state of business; what we always ask each other.  I replied, “it’s terrible!”  He told me at least I was stark and frank, but that comment made me think.  I’d let the thoughts of failure fester in my head and now I was spewing it.  It felt wrong. 

Deep down I knew all wasn’t terrible.  I’d lost a chance to win two pieces of business, but we still had demand.  There were folks contacting us asking about and for presentations on our services.  Certainly, the newer inquiries were in early stages, but I had traction and interest. 

I get it! I know how you feel as a freelancer, entrepreneur, job-seeker (face it, you’re an entrepreneur too), or student who has set out goals, didn’t get the results you wished, and had to re-plan.

The point is you shouldn’t let unexpected results detract you from setting more goals, refining your approach, and getting up the next day thinking you’re on top of the world, certain that you will succeed in life.  Continuously thinking of your success rejuvenates the mind and feeds it with what will insure your success, whatever form that success takes.

What are you waiting for, then? Take out that pen and paper.  Start the re-planning and goal-setting process, so that you too can be one step closer to treading on your true path.

What Do You Think?

What are you doing to feed your mind with positive thoughts of your future?  Feel free to share them below.

Photo Credits: meshmar2, David Paul Ohmer