Home All Compete in Your Game in 2007– Stay Focused on Your Goals

Compete in Your Game in 2007– Stay Focused on Your Goals

written by David J. Pollay 2 January 2007

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. 

Bridge to Our Goals

Bridge to Our Goals

So how do we stop entering the ring with everyone?  We get clear on what we care about.  We ask ourselves, “What do I really want to achieve?”  Then we write it down.  Most people only daydream about success; few people write down what it looks like.  Even fewer people read what they write. 

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

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Alvin 2 January 2007 - 8:29 pm

That’s fascinating, David. I’ve always wondered about the nature of hope; it’s so important but how do we define it? Snyder’s discovery is good food for thought.

David J. Pollay 3 January 2007 - 11:32 pm

Thanks Alvin for your note!

It is fascinating to explore what powers our personal hope. I sure try to roll up my sleeves and apply Snyder’s findings. And the better I am at doing so, the more hopeful I feel. And the more hopeful I feel, the more energy and confidence I have to pursue the life I want to lead.

Thanks again for connecting Alvin.

Best, David

Robert 4 January 2007 - 4:47 pm

Hello David,
Thanks for your timely article! Your points really made me stop and think. Your article made me ask myself, what “important” things am I really committed to achieving in my personal and professional life?…..and am I doing the types of things that make me fulfilled? Regardless of someone’s response to these questions, I think Snyder’s research on “hope” is validated in our daily life’s examples. Keep up the great work!


Chris 9 January 2007 - 1:16 pm

Reading your post got me thinking about the competitions I let myself get drawn into. A common one for me is the “Race for the Seat” on buses and subway trains. Now instead of being frustrated at having to stand for a commute, I’ll try to use it as a trigger for gratitude and focus! Thanks so much!

Margaret 10 January 2007 - 9:13 am

🙂 David, I loved your question “So how do we stop entering the ring with everyone?” & response — “get clear on what we are about”. We are bombarded daily by all sorts of things that seem urgent but are not really important. You have a gift for taking a common, everyday experience (like the commute to work) and drawing an important life lesson. Thank you! Margaret

David J. Pollay 10 January 2007 - 9:02 pm

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the great comments Robert. It’s amazing how quickly our day-planner can fill up without thinking about the questions you pose in your post. It is easier to prioritize what we do each day if it’s done in the context of what we value.

Thanks again for your note.



David J. Pollay 10 January 2007 - 9:06 pm

Hi Chris,

Great comments. Thanks! Your examples are great ones. It is so easy to fall into a race for things that do not matter. Moments like the ones you mention in your post can be new sources of fun – or gratitude as you point out – instead of moments of frustration.

Thanks again Chris for the note.



David J. Pollay 10 January 2007 - 9:09 pm

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for your kind comments! I appreciate the warm review of the post. It’s fascinating how the common occurences – the ones that are easy to overlook – have such a big impact on our daily lives. Thanks again Margaret for your note.




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