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As I was walking to work with my husband this morning, we had a conversation we have often. It always goes something like this:
The Ambitious one: “I hope that X deal happens and Y deal happens and that Z project makes us $abc”
The Optimist: “Yes. But remember even if that doesn’t happen we’re still doing well.”
The Ambitious one: “But I really just want X and Y and then I’ll feel like we’re ok”
The Optimist: But remember where we were 2, 5, 7 years ago? Now we have A, we’ve achieved B, we have C in the bank”
The examples and amounts change, but it’s usually the same format. I’m most often in the Optimist role.
So, what does this conversation mean?
As we start to approach our goals, our goals tend to evolve to be more and more ambitious.
This is the part where I tell you to write your goals down, to take time to celebrate your small wins. Ok, but I actually have trouble doing that in real life. Easier said than done, I think.
Say, for example, your goal is to make X sale, which will make you a profit $10 000. You’ve decided that if you achieve that goal, you should get a reward (because an internet self-help article told you to! ha!).
So you decide your reward will be a [insert gaming console name here], which costs about $500. You write it all down, etc etc.
You make the sale. Now you’ve achieved your goal. Time to buy the Switch, right?
(see? I knew what you guessed!) Yes. BUT…
(1) Does part of you question whether maybe you would have bought it anyway, even if you hadn’t achieved your goal? Maybe you would have made a smaller sale and decided you deserved it anyway.
Or maybe you wouldn’t have made any sales but would have decided that you don’t reward yourself enough and that you want it anyway.
Or maybe you wouldn’t have made this sale but would have made another one in 6 months and bought it then.
Sooooo many great reasons you could have just bought it anyway. So is it really a reward?
(2) Isn’t there a voice in your head that says “sure, I might enjoy the Switch for a while, but that $500 could be put to better use doing X. (groceries, travel, clothes, savings, etc etc.) Maybe I should do that with it instead.
Whether X is a “responsible/boring” thing to do or a “fun/frivolous” thing to do, either way you might decide to do something other than your reward.
- “fun/frivolous”: ok sure, at least you’re taking a reward as planned. But is it something you might have bought anyway?
- “responsible/boring”: now you’re not rewarding yourself!
So now I bet you’re expecting me to give you a trick to avoid this, right?
Sorry, I’m still working on this one! But I do like to look back often and try to keep track of all the things we have achieved.
B has been doing annual reviews, and this year I participated and actually liked it.
In a Word doc, we write what went well, what could have gone better, and what we plan to do differently next year for 4 different categories: I think they are Personal, Professional, Physical, Entrepreneurship? But you could choose any categories that are most relevant to you or none at all.
I’ve been resisting it for a long time (sounded very self-help-y!) but it was actually nice to gradually remember all of our wins for the year, and I look forward to reading back in a few years and being reminded of the cool stuff we did!