The Secret to Staying on Track with your Goals

We don’t often take time to reflect, yet it is the secret to staying on course to achieve your goals (business or personal).
Reflection helps to put your experiences, accomplishments, and setbacks in perspective, then allows you to put them in context and interpret their deeper meaning.  A deeper understanding of where you’ve been and where you are now can help you to create, in a more meaningful way, where you go next — both personally and professionally.
Joseph Campbell, renowned scholar and author on cultural mythology, identified a common cycle of events in heroic myths that exists across cultures.  Campbell’s hero typically follows this pattern:
  • departs from his ordinary world in search of something or is enticed away from his comfort zone
  • encounters tests through adversity or temptation
  • meets various archetypal characters along the way who help or hinder him
  • finds what he set out for (and sometimes almost loses it
  • returns to the ordinary world with a new thing or idea for himself psychologically or that will change mankind.
Sound familiar?  Hollywood loves this formula, and George Lucas intentionally used the work of Joseph Campbell when he wrote Star Wars.  You may not see yourself as the “Luke Skywalker” type, yet each person experiences this cycle throughout their lives and even multiple cycles over time.
So, take time to intentionally think about the people, gains/losses, and work events that happened over the past year.  Each of these can carry a deeper meaning upon reflection that can guide you forward.
Over the past year, what did you notice about your interactions with certain employees, colleagues, clients, or competitors?  For example, was there someone you met who provided sage advice from which you benefited? Was there someone at work who seemed to constantly prod you or test you?  Or was there a competitor you saw as being against you who, underneath it all, might be teaching you something about yourself or your business?  Reflect on what you learned from them all, especially as it relates to the trajectory of your professional and business goals.
Reflect on gains or losses over the past year.  What were you striving towards and why? Did you experience great success with a business product or service only to discover that it backfired a bit because your team didn’t handle the increased demand as deftly as they could have?  Did you work hard to land a new client only to find out that it wasn’t a good working relationship in the end?  Were you able to find a the right product/market fit after struggling for a time to find your niche?  Did you hit the jackpot in some way?
What do the gains/losses you experienced tell you about you or your business?  That is, in the pursuit of a gain or avoidance of pain, were there instances where you were tempted by greed, stuck in a rut with fear, or chose duty over something else?  In the face of loss, did you find strength you didn’t know you had? Or learn something extraordinary about yourself or others that will guide your pursuits going forward?
Look at the events you were a part of this year.  Did a project or idea catch your attention in a big way? Did you enter an entirely new career or lifestyle? Did you experience a rocky patch in your work, relationships, health, or other aspect of your life, whether or not by choice?  Are you close to a break though that will be a game changer for your work?  How do work events over the past year fit within the context of your life in a broader sense?
Now, upon reflection, are you on track with your intended work outcomes?  Where do you go next?

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman is the Executive Coach for senior leaders who want to challenge themselves to get focused and get results. Learn more about her company Firebrand Consulting at:

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