As we approach the end of the year, it’s common to begin planning ahead and setting goals for the next 12 months. This is a great ritual that keeps many of us focused on what we want to accomplish in the coming year. In addition to this, it’s also important to take time to look back at past successes – to celebrate your accomplishments.
I have the honor of working with many high performing individuals who are always striving to reach the next level in their careers. What’s quite common among these people (and most high achievers) is that they are typically forward-looking and assess their current success based on how far away they are from their “next level” or that next goal.
I have heard this described as the “elusive carrot” syndrome and I think it’s a great depiction of what’s going on. As that carrot (which represents what we are trying to achieve) is dangling out in front of us, it always seems one step ahead of us and just out of our reach. As long as we assess our progress against that elusive carrot, it can feel like we are never getting anywhere.
But, if we take a look behind us, the picture is quite different. I recently did this with a client who’s striving to reach a higher role inside her company. She’s not yet there, so it feels like she’s not making progress in her career goals.
Yet, when she looked back at the past year, she realized she had finished her master’s degree, hired 12 new people on her team, successfully implemented several new programs across her company, as well as completed a senior leadership development program – which not only gave her exposure to the CEO and executive team, but allowed her to present to the company board.
All of these things were clear indicators of her progress toward her goal. However, by only looking ahead at the “elusive carrot,” she was unable to see just how far she’d come and all the successes she achieved.
I am all for being forward-thinking and focusing on achieving goals. In fact, I’d much rather do that than look behind me; however, every so often, especially at the end of the year, it’s really important to take a look back to see how far you’ve come. It not only will put you in a positive mindset as you set goals for the coming year but you might recognize you are much closer to that “elusive carrot” than you realized.
This month’s development tip: As you set your 2013 goals look back at 2012 and document all you’ve achieved and accomplished this past year. Take time to pat yourself on the back. In fact, why not treat yourself to something special to acknowledge your accomplishments? Celebrate your successes – you deserve it!
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