When trying to reach our goals, we often focus on the external results we want to achieve, such as completing the project you’re working on, earning more, or finishing coursework for your degree. But you can’t control the outcome. You have to chase down other people to get them to do their part on your project. You can’t control whether a prospect will return your call to hire you. You can’t control what family friction is going to cause an interruption to your preparation or study time.
When things don’t go exactly the way we hoped, we get stressed, frustrated, and worried we won’t achieve our goals. We experience stress when things seem out of our control.
But what can you control? In fact, what is the single thing you can control the most? Yourself!
You are the instrument of your success. You can decide how to deal with every challenging or stressful situation. Don’t try to control the outcome of situations, just be sure to show up as who you want to be.
So… who do you want to be? What qualities or attributes, if you consistently displayed them, would help you get the results you want? I call this idea who you want to be at your Horizon Point. This is a visual reminder to keep your focus forward on your aspiration and who you need to be.
Step #1: Write down some ideas of who you need to be in order to get the results you want.
Step #2: It’s even more helpful if you come up with a phrase that captures the idea of who you want to be, so all you have to do is remember that phrase in the heat of the moment.
Step #3: Act in the service of that persona, no matter what is going on around you.
Here are some examples of Horizon Points of women I coached, and how it helped them become successful in their companies:
A junior partner at a consulting firm was really good at what she did, but she was insecure about what people thought of her. She spent her days writing long technical email answers to her clients instead of getting on the phone with them. She hid and didn’t raise her hand for greater responsibility.
Then she defined who she wanted to be. She wanted to work with senior level clients, be a strategic thinker and confident. Her phrase was “Confident Leader,” and in each situation she would ask herself, “How can I act like a Confident Leader here?” It worked. She was promoted to lead the Northeast office and is now on the executive committee of this 80k person firm!
A woman was a leader in a fashion company going through a lot of change, and people were emotionally reactive. She wanted to stay above the fray and be a calm and steady role model who people sought to partner with. Her Horizon Point phrase was “Poised Change Agent.” In each situation where tension started to rise, she would ask herself, “How can I be a Poised Change Agent here?” Her boss was so impressed by her, he promoted her to a global role.
A financial advisor worked HARD from morning until night because she was very self-critical and afraid she would screw up. She wanted to earn more and be more patient, so she wouldn’t lose it with her assistant or children. Her Horizon Point was “Effortless Flow.” So she would go through packed days asking herself how to approach things with an “Effortless Flow.” With that mindset, she learned to streamline her efforts and stop being a control freak. She earned an extra $50,000 in 3 months and had the confidence to say yes to a national radio show offer, all while spending two afternoons a week with her children and sleeping better through the night.
Each of these women became instantly successful in every situation at work (and at home) by being clear about who they wanted to be in the situation, and then acting in the service of their own Horizon Point. Each time they were intentional about their behavior other people noticed and saw them as role models.
–Sharon Melnick, PhD, September 2015 Career Coach