David J. Pollay, MAPP '06, is a co-founder of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). David has an Economics degree from Yale University and has held leadership positions at Yahoo!, MasterCard, Global Payments and AIESEC. He is an Executive Coach who specializes in business relationships. He is also an author and keynote speaker known for his best-selling books, The Law of the Garbage Truck (how to navigate negativity) and The 3 Promises (how to create personal fulfillment every day). David's articles are here. For permission to reprint David's articles, please contact him.
Stop! The New Year is here! What are your resolutions? What are you going to do this year?! Many of you are thinking about what you want to achieve in 2007. And you are being slammed by TV infomercials, print articles, and email spam telling you what you should be doing! Last week I was reminded how to stay focused on what’s important to you, not on what everyone else says that you should be doing.
I was on the highway driving about 60 mph. I wanted to move into the next lane. I put on my turn signals.
As I looked over my left shoulder, a car already in that lane started to speed up; the driver didn’t want me to slide over. What?! I punched the accelerator! He did too! I looked ahead. I looked at him. I looked ahead. I thought for a moment that I could squeeze my car in before he closed the gap. Then I let him go.
As he went zooming past me with the smirk of victory on his face I thought, “I did it again! I let someone else bait me into a competition I had no intention of entering!” I didn’t wake up that morning saying, “I’m going to save 47 seconds today on my drive to work by racing in and out of lanes faster than any other driver.” But the important question is, “What did I say to myself that morning?”
Most of us hear the alarm clock, drag out of bed, take a shower, grab a cup of coffee, say goodbye to our family, and head out of the house each morning. Our life goals are rarely fresh in our mind. Our strategic plan for the life we want to lead is at best sitting in a folder somewhere, and at worst not even thought about.
With no plan in hand, we are vulnerable to competition with everyone. We are easily triggered by an aggressive driver, a competitive colleague at work, or a demanding boss. When we’re not clear about what we’re committed to, we feel competition from all sides.
What if you took two minutes each morning to remind yourself of your life goals? What if you updated your goals whenever a new opportunity, or a new possibility arose? What if you kept your written goals with you at all times? The answer is clear: you’ll never forget what’s important to you.
The late positive psychology researcher Rick Snyder from the University of Kansas is best known for his extensive work on the subject of “hope.” Snyder discovered in his research that “there are three elements to hope: (1) setting clear goals that you value; (2) thinking about how you can achieve those goals, and; (3) raising motivations to use those routes.”
When we focus on the game we want to win, we are more likely to set goals that will help us succeed. In turn we become hopeful about our prospects to achieve them and our positive energy increases as a result. We don’t have the time nor the interest to worry about all the other games we could be in.
So let the jack rabbit racers dart in and out of traffic on the way to work. You’ll be too busy thinking about the good life you have, and the goals you have for making your life even better. Enjoy the drive; make 2007 your year!
Special Note to New Readers: Thanks for tuning in to my post on Positive Psychology Daily News! You can find me here every 2nd day of each month. I try to make all my posts practical, memorable, and based in research. Let me know what you think! Please respond to my posts with your reactions, thoughts, ideas, and stories. See you next month on the 2nd!
Discipline (bridge to goals) courtesy of WTL Photos