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Ready, Set, GOALS!

This article was originally published in the January 2017 edition of Lake Norman Currents.
  Forget resolutions; make 2017 all about goals, guys   New Year's resolutions are passé. They are pointless, unachievable and not worth the investment of our time and effort. At least that's the position I'm taking this year in this column.   Why? Because resolutions are typically about things we want to avoid, like cutting out sugar from our diet or not passing on the right, and living a life of avoidance isn’t truly living at all.   And from a journalistic perspective, since I wrote last year about bulletproofing your resolutions, then basically failed miserably at doing everything I suggested was fail proof, I'm going in the complete opposite direction this next cycle. Kind of like, well, never mind.   So this column is about goals and goal setting in the New Year, whether they are personal, financial, professional, athletic or all other goals. And by all other I mean anything and everything that is in your total and complete control because, as guys, we like to control things. No, setting a goal of watching eight straight hours of sports every Saturday or Sunday if you have a wife and a kid tugging at your pants doesn’t count. Unless it's the playoffs. Any playoffs. Or The Master’s. Then you should be given a pass.   You need to make goals a part of your daily routine then work to achieve them if you want to feel truly happy and satisfied.   Years ago, in a moving, memorable speech while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on the 1993 ESPY stage, legendary NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano shared with us invaluable life lessons. He told us about the importance of doing three things each day - laughing, thinking, and having your emotions moved to tears. (Yes, guys, it's okay to cry.)   He went on to remind us how precious time is and how important it is to know where we started, where we are, and where we want to be. Without this knowledge and doing something each day to move us along that path, our lives will lack direction, he suggested. At the core of everything, he said, should be goals. Having goals, he said, gives our actions purpose.   So how do we set goals that move us from where we are to where we want to be? We boil it down to the basics and create actionable goals in the now that will have a measurable outcome and move us toward the future.   Because I believe guys like to run their goals by other guys before undertaking them, and to see if my theory on goal setting would hold up under the scrutiny and eye of someone who deals in helping clients set and achieve quantifiable goals, I checked in with Greg Bennett, managing principal at BluHawk Wealth Management in Davidson, for his input. Greg’s thoughtful, disciplined approach to finance combines many objective, analytical factors. So, I was naturally surprised when he shared a white board full of philosophy (not formulas) to begin our conversation.   “To me, life goal setting is about focusing my energy moment to moment and day to day on seeking positive, enriching, impactful human experiences. If I can do that, my actions will be purposeful, and my personal interactions meaningful. Ultimately, things outside your control tend to work out over time, regression to the mean, so to speak,” Greg told me. “For everyone who comes to me for advice on their finances, I try to envision the blue sky first, knowing that clouds will appear in the at often unexpected times. There are strategies, philosophical and financial, to prudently and effectively weather most storms in life, as well as with an individual or family’s wealth.”   We agreed goals boil down to purpose, planning, action and faith. Do something to the best of your ability then trust in the outcome. Value the human component and don’t be afraid to feel the emotions that might come with your actions.   So this year my goals will simple and I hope achievable. They include the personal, professional, financial, athletic and even spiritual aspirations, but they won’t be based on finishing places, times, pounds lifted, rates of return or even miles run.   I'll hug more, say “please” and “thank you,” wash my car by hand at least once, go for a walk without being plugged in to a podcast, playlist or Pandora, get up early and watch a sunrise, stay up late and watch the stars, travel somewhere new, pay it forward at least once, donate something, volunteer some of my time, be appreciative about the things I have and people in my life, and start one randomly selected and predetermined calendar day each month with just a bit more enthusiasm.   Let’s see where these goals take me. I'm looking forward to 2017. I'm hoping you are, too.  
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