Sounds like a contradiction, huh? Look back to go forward faster? Here’s why it may be counterintuitive but it is not contradictory.

Looking back at what we have done, what we have accomplished is often done to keep score. For example, did I grow my business as much as I wanted? Did I lose the 10 (or 20 or whatever) pounds that I wanted to? What did I do that I set out to do and what did I fail to do? At the end of all this tallying and judging, who amongst us feels really great? Probably few. What do we do next? We make resolutions for the new year, often knowing that putting a goal on our list for the 18th time will not increase our chance of success.

Put your bats down folks! Stop beating yourself up. Here’s an alternative that will help you propel yourself into 2013 with more energy and a greater probability of succeeding in what you set out to do.

First, look back at what you accomplished in 2012 (or earlier if that works for you). What did you achieve that you also enjoyed and felt satisfied about?

Second, of the things you just named, what skills or capabilities do you possess that made the success possible? Write it down!

Third, how can you use the skills or characteristics more broadly, more often, in more venues?

Fourth, how do you describe your abilities in terms of value to others? This isn’t what you do, your methodology or your degree (or some obscure certification) it is a statement of why others are better off because of you.

Good – now you have more clarity about the source of your success. You have some ideas about how to use your strengths in the future. You are probably saying, great but what about all the stuff I need to fix? Isn’t development about improving ourselves? Yes and the fastest way to do that is to be sure we know what we are really great at, what we enjoy and where those intersect with the needs of others. Once we know that, we can apply our skills in a energetic way and the energy is renewed by achievement. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where self-esteem comes from-honest achievement of something that has value.

So, what about these stuff we need to fix? Three things:

1. Prioritize and ignore any things that are of little consequence. This should make your list shorter by at least half, more if you are really honest.

2. Find others to take responsibility for the things you need to do but are either not good at or hate. Hire a bookkeeper, a maid, someone to manage scheduling, whatever.

3. To address the things that remain-and there ought to be just one or two-focus on what you need to do differently and create a way to make it happen. What do I mean by that? Take an action that is logically related to your goal. Hire a trainer, join a mastermind group, study a topic in depth, clean out your closets-whatever it is, take action. There is no substitute for it.

Finally, don’t let what you need to improve overshadow what your outstanding strengths are. No one is good at everything. Save the “fix it” programs for the things that are significantly in the way of your health and happiness. Most of you aren’t damaged, but many suffer from trying to “fix” things that are not that important or can be managed in other ways.

Now, go forward faster!

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