Align Your ‘To Do’ List With Your ‘To Be’ List
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
The New Year usually starts with a bit of healthy self-reflection and goal setting, that typically fills the gyms in January—a problem that abates in February.
We often set a variety of other professional and personal development goals as well.
This year, I want to encourage social entrepreneurs and impact investors to take a different approach. Before you sit down to identify the things you want to do or do better this year, may I suggest that you consider what you want to be?
I’m not talking about “to be” in the sense of the question we pointlessly ask six-year-olds, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Rather, I’m suggesting you really think about the sort of person you want to be. Ultimately, I think we all want not just to be good at something but to be good.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” CREDIT: DEPOSITPHOTOS
Those who focus on impact on the world are off to a good start. A focus on others’ wellbeing is healthy and I would not want to discourage that.
Still, as you reflect today on the year past and the year to come, take a moment to consider how to become a better human being.
You may also wish to be a better leader, a better investor, a better parent or even a better golfer. You can identify actions that will help you to be a better anything you want to be.
In addition to thinking about being a better professional, a better entrepreneur or a better Cranium player at parties, think about what it would take to be a better person.
Some of the tasks that will make you better at things you do will also make you a better human and everything that makes you a human should help you do everything else better, too.
While I want to avoid being proscriptive about what makes a person better, I think many would agree that patience, kindness and more open-mindedness are good traits.
Years ago, when I wanted to become more patient, I did some research and found several people suggested counting to ten when waiting for things or before taking actions. I count to ten a lot. I should count to ten even more.
In fairness to yourself, setting lots of goals can be self-defeating. As you ponder all the things you could focus on this year, think about choosing just one or two. Perhaps you could focus on building on one core strength and another area of your life where you have a deficiency.
Growing evidence suggests that remarkable people often succeed because of one or two key abilities that stand out rather than a general well-roundedness. Didn’t Michael Jordan effectively prove this when he chose to play baseball?
At the same time, a bad temper, lack of empathy or other notable deficiency can create problems in our lives that we are constantly having to overcome or may block opportunities we would otherwise enjoy. It is probably worth some effort to knock the roughest edges off our character—one at a time.
So, this year, think deeply about what you want to be before you plan what to do. Then your “to do” list will naturally align with your “to be” list.
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