This week a dear friend shared how, for him, January 1 starts on December 1. I chuckled in agreement, because in November I had already mapped out my high-level goals and plans for 2019.
Sure, he and I may be part of a small group of people who get started this early with preparing for the year ahead; but, at some point everyone reading these words will do their version of the same – whether that happens this month, in January or further into the New Year.
As you glance toward the year ahead, your new or updated goals likely match to something you want, or want more of, or want to be different in some, if not all areas, of your life.
This anticipated future represents not only an opportunity to get what you want; but it also represents a chance to see and experience the payoff of your hard work, discipline, sacrifices, choices and trade-offs. Am I right?
Yet…in all the striving that you do to make your goals a reality, how much time do you give to preparing yourself for the new reality you are working so very hard to create?
Just think about the goals you set for this year. Your roadmap probably looked like this: you set a goal; created a plan; took action; paid attention to the process; made adjustments along the way; and focused on the results.
However, did you also contemplate what about you would change once you shifted from striving to having?
The New You
This internal shift is actually a transformation we all end up experiencing. And I started noodling on this question of preparing oneself for this shift after having an email conversation with a client who proudly shared how she had implemented the plan we co-created and hit every goal. Woot, woot for her! And, she bravely disclosed a surprising dilemma that tagged along with her achievements: the stress of success.
She’s not alone!
As a culture, we spend a great deal of time talking about and showing examples of people as they strive toward a goal. Be it related to money, fitness, career, relationship, etc.
Very little time, though, is spent exploring and anticipating the shifts that will happen internally. Especially after you celebrate your achievements and the questions about momentum, sustainability, and “what’s next?” kick in.
I suspect this is largely due to our natural tendency to focus on that which is easier to see with the naked eye and to measure: results.
But when moving from striving to having – more than your results change.
Take your 2018 goals, for example. Whether at this point in the year you can claim them as achieved in whole or in part, you had to:
- Be disciplined
- Stay focused
- Take charge of your habits
- Take charge of your mindset & self-talk
- Make sacrifices, choices and trade-off you only became aware of once you were deep in the process
- Forgive yourself for missteps along the way
- Trust the process – especially when the results weren’t too assuring and convincing that you were on the right track
As you reflect on each of your goals and its status in relation to the list above, it becomes pretty clear that the process of achieving your goals changes you along the way, too!
For my client, her email update epitomized just how much, in my opinion, money is a also personal development tool.
In other words, as she was working to implement her financial game-plan, she was also working on herself. Even if she didn’t recognize it in the moment.
And what is true for her is true for you and me, as well.
When it comes to achieving your goals (financial or otherwise), an internal shift is bound to happen because with it comes the need to navigate and negotiate new emotions, roles and responsibilities.
Time to stretch…again
Yet, rarely, when you hit the ground running to start work on your goals do you envision the “new you” you have to be once you get what you want – before you get started.
While your goal is still a work in progress, you’re not typically thinking about needing a bolder vision or bigger goals moving forward or a different level of confidence and self-trust. Your focus is on what’s immediately in front you – the steps you need to take right now.
Then, you achieve your goal. You get what you wanted (and worked hard for), but now you also feel slightly unprepared for the emotions, thoughts, and questions that have bubbled up afterward.
As I see it, this what triggers the stress of success.
But instead of suggesting you avoid the “stress of success” phenomenon, here’s what I’d recommend instead: Embrace it!
Think of the stress as an invitation to:
Pay attention to your body, emotions and thoughts. There are clues awaiting your discovery that will help you internally prepare for ever-increasing levels of success. So, get even more curious about yourself, and use your insight to help you make room for the “new” you with greater ease.
Reflect on the choices you made and decision-making process you followed that resulted in your current level of success. Think of this as an audit of what you did, when and how. There are clues about what you should continue doing, start doing and stop doing as you create an even bolder vision for your future and set bigger goals to along with.
Examine expectations – your own, as well as the expectations others have (had) of you. Because they may or may not serve you moving forward.
Realize that you may need a different level of confidence and self-trust to sustain you at a new level of success. (This has been one of my biggest a-has this year!)
Make sure you celebrate every achievement and success before moving on to the next big thing.
Remember what you’ve achieved in the past; that is enough evidence to prove you can do it over and over and over again.
Remember that success and reality are fluid and dynamic. Yesterday’s success and reality look and feel different compared to today’s, which will look and feel different than tomorrow’s.
Stress of success is real. And one of the reasons I give my client so much credit for acknowledging it is because most people view this as a good problem to have. So, they discount its “realness” and dismiss it. Thus, they run the risk of missing out on the benefits that come from exploring the messages the stress contains.
When you get what you want, you will not be the same person as you were when you didn’t have it. And, you’ll be required to navigate and negotiate a new reality. It’s not easy or entirely comfortable. But that is precisely how it ought to be. It’s the natural price of change. So, keep that in mind as you plan for 2019 and beyond.