As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2014, it’s a good time to check our temperature to see how we are doing with our New Year resolutions. If you used the S.M.A.R.T principles (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) to prepare your goals, you are more likely to stick to them than those who did not. However, despite our best intentions, our enthusiasm sometimes wanes when things don’t happen as quickly as we hoped or expected, or if we encounter some roadblocks. I’ve always wondered how when this occurs, some folks give up entirely and abandon their plans while some intensify their efforts and stay focused on achieving the goals they set. I have since realized that, it is not that those who stay the course are stronger or wiser than those who give up; rather they decide what meaning to ascribe to events that happen in their life. They view an unfavorable outcome as an opportunity for growth rather than a sign of failure. We have the power to choose and yet sometimes we choose the negative path.
Lately, when things are not going my way, and before I start doubting myself, I stop and ask whether I am operating like a thermometer or a thermostat. This really helps me chart a course of action that yields better results. A thermometer just takes the temperature in the room while a thermostat sets the temperature. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a thermometer as “an instrument used for measuring temperature” and a thermostat as “a device that automatically adjusts the temperature in a room … to a desired level”.
One of the most powerful human qualities is choice. Thus, we have the power to decide whether to REACT or RESPOND to what is happening to our well laid plans. You can choose to react by feeling hopeless, frustrated, angry, discouraged or bitter in which case you are a thermometer merely reflecting what’s happening around you. If, however, you choose to respond (rather than react) to the glitches in your plans, you are likely to get a more controlled outcome because you are in charge. A thermostat responds by regulating the desired temperature. Essentially, you decide what you want the temperature to be and adjust it accordingly. The thermostat signals the air conditioner or the heater to cool the room down or warm it up as the case may be.
If you have abandoned any of your goals or plans out of fear or frustration, consider re-visiting them and believe that you will get through them. Look at them again with the eyes of faith and from a place of strength, no matter how insurmountable the obstacle may seem. Let faith, not fear rule your thoughts and actions. Don’t live your life like a thermometer sitting around and measuring your environment. Be an active participant in what happens around you by boldly taking charge of your plans and take steps to create the environment you desire. If someone slams a door on your face, shift gears and knock on a different door. You have the power to choose how you respond to your circumstances. French philosopher, Jackson Kiddard reminds us that “… life is a journey. If you got everything you wanted all at once there’d be no point to living. Enjoy the ride, and in the end you’ll see these ‘setbacks’ as giant leaps forward, only you couldn’t see the bigger picture in the moment. Remain calm, all is within reach; all you have to do is show up every day, stay true to your path and you will surely find the treasure you seek.”
So if things are moving slower than you want them to, fear not. Do not succumb to bouts of depression and hopelessness. Although it is normal to feel frustrated when things don’t go our way, we should try not to dwell on it. When you choose to see every setback as a learning opportunity and not the final outcome, you are likely to take the time to come up with creative ideas and solutions to resolve the problem. Like they say, “a delay is not a denial”.
So, use your power. This principle can be applied not just to goal setting, but also to other aspects of our lives. View setbacks and disappointments as opportunities for growth and learn from them. See failure as one step closer to success. Resolve to be as smart and as in control as the thermostat. Take charge of your destiny by creating the environment you want in your relationships, businesses and work places. Most importantly, remember to adjust it according to your desired level.
Iruka A. Ndubuizu is a “contract guru”, attorney, entrepreneur, consultant, trainer and lover of life. She is an Assistant Director for Contracts Administration at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and the Founder of Eureka Consulting, LLC (www.eurekaconsultingllc.com). You can reach her at email@example.com; 678.244.1960.