The ‘Yeah But’ Brigade

I’d follow my passion, but…..

I’d ask for the promotion, but…..

I’d launch a new company, but…..

Yeah, but he’s already made his money so he can afford to follow his passion.

Yeah, but she’s luckier than I am, that’s why she’s thriving.

Yeah, but it’s a really difficult time economically.

And so on, and so on, and quite boringly, so on.

We’ve got just one life….

Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste one more precious moment of it being part of “The ‘Yeah But’ Brigade?”

Borrowed Words: Lao Tzu on Dreams


“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

– Lao Tzu

Goal Reset: The Lunar New Year Reboot

Always.  Each.  Every.  Never.  What is wrong with absolutes?  They leave you with nowhere to go.

So use these words wisely; guardedly.  Reserve them for the big things––the major commitments––the times when nothing other than an absolute will do.  Fidelity; recovery; the big shifts you determine (with a capital D) to bring into your life.

But be circumspect before you attach them to the minor things––I’ll workout every day.  I’ll always answer emails within 24 hours.  I’ll never eat sweets again.  Think twice before you offer up your limited store of absolutes on items such as these because after all, there’s only so much ‘each-ing’ and ‘every-ing’ any of us has the time or gumption for.

So here’s what I’d suggest:  Take the three weeks before Lunar New Year and reflect.  Ask yourself––are the goals you set at the beginning of the year reasonable and sustainable or are you a victim of your own best intentions? Are you crossing them off your list with gusto or are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of another eleven months of obligation?

If you’re feeling a bit underwater, perhaps it’s time to review your goals––not necessarily the substantive ‘what’ of your commitments––but the ‘hows’.  In other words, maybe it’s time to redefine how you think about and measure success.

The way I do this is by using an approach to goal setting that involves creating progressively challenging categories of performance to measure achievement and success against. (This is similar to the ‘low to high’ forecasting techniques I used to manage my companies.)  By using this technique, you create a framework which supports and promotes achievement by acknowledging ‘degrees of success’ as described below:

Goal Setting––From Threshold to Optimal

Threshold: The baseline goal you set for yourself that represents improvement over current performance, but also feels entirely achievable.  For example, a commitment towards two minutes of meditation five days a week might seem like limited success, but when coming from a base level of zero, is an example of a small step which when consistently applied over time, will generate significant improvement.

Mid-Point:  The level of performance that represents a ‘push’ but still has ‘reasonableness attributes’ attached to it.  Using the example above, two minutes of meditation five days a week might be stretched to five minutes every day.

Optimal:  The level of performance that represents a real push.  An ‘out-of-the-park’ win.  A morning practice that includes ten minutes of meditation combined with five minutes of journaling.

During the year, you may find there are times––days, weeks, months––you operate within the flow of optimal performance, others in which meeting threshold seems like a feat in itself.  Regardless of where you are on the curve, by creating a structure based on ‘degrees of success’ you know that as long as you commit to and achieve threshold, you have generated a win.  By embracing the notion of ‘degrees of success’ you allow yourself the compassion of ‘ebb and flow’ and free yourself from the  burden of absolutes on the unrealistic road towards perfection.

I know there are those A-types among you who will think (as I used to) that this is rationalizing nonsense––a workaround against pushing yourself to really achieve.  A way out.  I understand, but no.  What I’m suggesting is a way through.

And remember, it is entirely up to you to determine the construct of your success.  Up to you to define what constitutes ‘threshold’ or how quickly you progress up the food chain to ‘optimal’.  All I’m suggesting, is that you give yourself the benefit of a framework that has every chance of working; that frees you from the clutches of frustration (or worse) by allowing you to harvest the fruits of consistency.

And if you’re off to a rocky start this year––or feeling a bit over-extended––I strongly encourage you to take full advantage of the greatest do-over opportunity ever:  The Lunar New Year reboot.  Grab some Chinese food and put that new pen of yours back to paper.  And this time, make sure you give yourself room to move and a place to grow.

And remember––Small steps…bigger victories…everlasting change.


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