Last month I had a conversation with a client about setting goals for the year. We had worked together identifying and laying out the goals, making them clear and knowing when success had taken place.

As we reviewed the goals and delved deeper into them, I started to ask a different question. It’s simple really – What makes that goal important to you for this year? My client paused for a moment, then said “I’m not sure. I just figure that’s something I should strive for. Don’t other successful people pursue that goal?”

That’s the problem with goals and success. We look to what others are doing or have done and make that our goal. It’s easy to grab hold of what other successful people are doing and try to imitate them or what they did.

You might have heard the saying:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

While that may be true, imitation does not lead to success. If I imitate a body builder’s diet, I don’t become a body builder. If I wear the clothes of a celebrity, I do not become famous. The same is true in life, career, or business. If we imitate others, we are not guaranteed ‘success’ in whatever form it takes.

Some will tell you that imitation is flattery or imitation can lead to accomplishing your ideal life. In the sprint, there might be some success. The marathon of life and career are different. The marathon requires discipline, which I define as – developing personal will.

Personal will is our inner fortitude, that place we dig for when procrastination knocks at the door, when the ‘easy button’ presents itself, when things don’t go our way and we have to figure a new way forward.

Personal will is making the decision to walk your own path if necessary. To stand strong in your decisions, goals and path. You have your own journey. Don’t betray your adventure by imitating others. Be unique, courageous and strong on the path you want to take.

As our conversation progressed, I challenged my client to choose their own goals. What is important to you? What do you want from life? What do you want to give back to your community? If you’re going to lead yourself, then do it with integrity and go after what you want.

Are your goals, yours? 

What do you want out of this year? 

What do you want to give to this year?

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