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The Bigger Reason

01/04/2016 01:39PM ● Published by Paul Hunter

It’s that time of year when many people have already decided their goals for 2016.  Some call them goals, others “New Year’s Resolutions.”  Whatever you call them, about 45% of Americans usually make some and only 8% are on record for successfully achieving them.  


According to the Harvard study on goal setting, only 3% of the class wrote down their goals and a plan to achieve them.  When rechecked 10 years later, those 3% were earning 10 times as much as the other 97% combined!  Evidently, writing your goals and an action plan to achieve your goal is vital for success.


Something that is rarely mentioned in regard to resolution/goal setting is what do you do when you slip?  What happens when you fall short or dare I say, fail?  What do you do when you fail to do what you set out to do?  Do you stop everything or do as Hernán Cortés did and “burn the boats?”


So often, we allow setbacks and failure to stop us in our tracks.  Some will say it’s because we weren’t committed enough in the first place.   Some will say it is due to a lack of planning - planning and being prepared for what to do when failure or setbacks occur.  Frequently, when I ask my clients what their goals are, my next question is “Why?”  Why do they have that goal?  


It goes something like this:


Me:              “What do you want to accomplish?”

Client:            “I want to get in shape.”


Me:            “Why do you want to get in shape?”

Client:            “Because I need more energy.”


Me:            “Good.  Why do you need more energy?”

Client:            “So I can keep up with my kids.”


Me:            “So you want to be actively involved with your kids, and more energy will help?”

Client:            “YES!”


Me:            “Excellent.  So when you complain that something is too difficult and do not want to go on, I can remind you of this conversation?”  

Client:            “Uh, you got me.”


Being healthy and in shape is typically a means to an end, not the final result in and of itself. Thus, I search for the deeper reason.  It gives each session, repetition, increase in resistance, incline and exercise a meaning instead of just going through the motions.  


So, what is your reason?  Why do you want to eat healthy, get in shape, lose weight, get stronger, etc., etc., etc.?  Why, why, why?  Get to the bottom of it and you may just find a deep-seated reason as to why you can’t give up on your goals.  What will keep you going when you just don’t want to?  


Let’s get back to Hernán Cortés.  Remember him?  

In 1519, Hernán Cortés, with some 600 Spaniards, 16 or so horses and 11 boats, landed on a vast inland plateau called Mexico.  These guys were about to embark on a con­quest of an empire that hoarded some of the world’s great­est trea­sure.  Gold, sil­ver and pre­cious Aztec jew­els were just some of what this trea­sure had to offer to any­one who suc­ceeded in their quest to obtain it.


Instead of charg­ing through cities and forc­ing his men into imme­di­ate bat­tle, Hernán Cortés stayed on the beach and awoke the souls of his men with melo­di­ous cadences in the form of embla­zoned speeches urging the spirit of adventure and invoking the thirst of life­times of for­tune amongst his troops.


But iron­i­cally, it would only just be three words that Cortés’ mur­mured that would change the his­tory of the New World.  As they marched inland to face their ene­mies, Cortés ordered, “Burn the boats.”


It was a deci­sion that should have back­fired, for if Cortés and his men were on the brink of defeat, there wasn’t an exit strat­egy in place to save their lives.  Remark­ably though, the com­mand to burn the boats had an oppo­site effect on his men because now they were left with only two choices — die, or ensure vic­tory.  And fight they did.


We know today how Cortés’ deci­sion to burn his boats panned out.  Hernán Cortés became the first man in 600 years to suc­cess­fully con­quer Mexico.


Though his­to­ri­ans still dis­pute the verac­ity of Hernán Cortés burn­ing his boats, it’s doubt­less that Cortés did destroy his boats.


Allow your goals, dreams and resolutions to be bigger than anything that may come in the way.  Prepare for these setbacks.

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