5 Strategies for Keeping the Dream Alive

January 22, 2020




Let’s talk about those fabulous personal and business goals you set a few weeks ago in honor of the new year. Did you stop week one or are you still going strong?

In January, I was having a difficult time with some of the aspirations I identified as 2020 to-do’s, especially the fitness ones. Poor workouts snowballed, and before I knew it, I was close to giving up. I’m certain it’s not the last of the struggles ahead of me, so I’ve assembled a list of strategies I plan to deploy to keep me honest. Each one applies to business just as readily as to personal goals.

Checking in with a journal and a human

Nothing beats a written log when it comes to maintaining accountability. Well, except maybe an accountability partner. Telling someone you trust what you plan to do, and then following up with them, is a powerful motivator. Handing over your journal to this person is even more impactful because of the emotional (and time) effort it takes to put your heart on paper.

I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with this strategy. Like most people, I’m afraid of the potential humiliation of a public failure. But, that’s why I’ve put this strategy first. I’m going to push fear aside and go headlong into this effort in 2020.

If there’s no one you feel comfortable asking to take on this role, technology could be a good plan B. There are plenty of great apps that track goals. Some even give you little gold star emoji’s when you do well. Sure, those digital trophies may feel like the epitome of a participation sticker, but they still manage to spike that serotonin.

Laying it all out the day before

Both in my professional and personal life, I’ve found preparation is critical to follow through. If I have an important meeting with a client or prospect, I spend a big bulk of the week before researching and brainstorming the possibilities so the conversation we have is a worthwhile one that expands our thinking. I also discovered several years ago that making a list of goals to accomplish tomorrow at the end of today makes the next morning much more productive. For early morning workouts, setting out clothes and equipment, even my car keys, wallet and coat, seems to work wonders in terms of getting me moving.

Telling procrastination to take a hike

Putting tasks off is a sure way to kill any ambition. Anytime the temptation to reschedule a meeting pops into my brain, I’ll work to find extra reasons to keep that appointment. When my alarm goes off at 4:12 a.m. (True story, ask my wife.), I won’t hit the snooze button. We’ve all told ourselves we’ll do that morning workout later in the day, and what happens? Lots of stuff, but never the workout.

Fitting the plan into real life

Baby steps are the best way to ensure a goal is achieved. If you want to run a 5k for the first time, set micro goals that allow you to ride the momentum of your small wins. And, be realistic. Can your schedule bend and flex to allow those baby steps to become toddler steps over time? I’m biting off my half ironman training in 5-day increments. Each is followed with a little celebration to keep me energized.

It’s also extremely helpful to calendar out a goal. Choose an event and work backwards. One other word of caution, however. Make sure you can actually make the big day. A friend trained for a full year to run a half marathon without remembering he was going to be on vacation the day of the race.

Remembering the work

There’s a famous scene in Karate Kid with two kids facing each other in an intense match. The coach of one kid is yelling, “Finish him!” over and over. The coach of the other is encouraging the young competitor to remember all the hard work that’s preceded this moment. The child with the positive coach is the ultimate victor. It’s a scene I’ve always found inspirational, mainly because of the positivity, but also for the reflection.

Being mindful and in-the-moment is having something of a moment itself, but there’s a lot to be said about reflecting on the past. Actively, and yes, mindfully, calling to the frontal lobe what you have done to get to where you are today is a worthwhile exercise.

No doubt you are working toward several goals for this year and beyond. More than likely, there’s a financial component to those goals. Isn’t there always? I’d love to connect with you to hear about them. Reach out anytime to share what’s on your road map, and we’ll see if there’s a way we can partner to keep you accountable to achieving those dreams.

Mark K. Phillips is vice president of treasury management services for Bank Iowa, Iowa’s second largest family-owned financial institution. When he’s not at the bank or spending time with his wife and kids, Mark’s deploying the above strategies as part of his training for the Des Moines Half Ironman. Mark can be reached at mkphillips@bankiowa.bank. To learn more, visit bankiowa.bank. Member FDIC.