From Biosis 20, January 2008

JoAnne’s Motivational Minute:
Creating Success

by JoAnne Boettcher-Verigin

A brand new year! Time for New Year’s resolutions!

I hate them.

Okay, so I don’t really hate them. But sometimes when I go back and look at the ones I made the year before, I’m not always thrilled with my overall progress. That’s when I think, “There’s got to be a better way!”

Yet we all know that we have to have goals. Without them, you can’t know where you’re going on life’s journey. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re like Alice wandering lost through the Tulgey Wood. When she spies the grinning Cheshire Cat, she asks for help finding her way. The cat asks her where she’d like to get to, to which Alice replies that it doesn’t much matter.

“Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go,” says the cat.

As a young woman, I never really wanted to study time management and goal-setting. But there was so much that I wanted to do and see and experience, I realized that I had to learn how to accomplish it all. I wanted to be successful. So I began by reading every book I could find on the topics. I attended every class I could. And to my surprise, it was all really fun! It was fun to set a goal and then go about achieving it. Okay, so it wasn’t so great when I failed, but I also learned how to learn from those failures. As Thoreau wrote, “Make the most of your regrets. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

I have found that rather than making lots of elaborate New Year’s resolutions, it can be better to make just a few key ones – and write them down. Then, once those big ideas are in place, break them down into monthly “suggestions”…then down to weekly, then daily – small steps toward each big goal. I’ve also found it helpful to keep a calendar with daily motivational ideas. I like reading them, and they help me stay mindful of my smaller, more manageable resolutions.

Do I always succeed? No. But I can feel good about the small steps I take.

Success means different things to different people. What does it mean to you? One of my favorite definitions is normally attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson but was actually written by a woman named Bessie A. Stanley for an inspirational anthology called Heart Throbs. (Yes, really!) I share it here with you in hopes that it will inspire you to think on about what a successful 2008 – and beyond – means to you.

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.


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