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Today, I was having lunch at a diner today with a friend, who like me, is a professional speaker. He was one of the main motivating forces behind my own speaking career. He has always been a man of action who did the hard part first. He is definitely someone I appreciate having in my life and look up to.

It was obvious he was struggling.

As he shuffled his ketchup covered fries around his plate I could tell something was on his mind. I prodded and he opened up.

“I have everything I could possibly want. I have achieved all of my goals, but I am not excited about anything I am doing. I keep asking myself, ‘Is this it?’ I mean, I have made it. I don’t know what my problem is.”

“You achieved ALL of your goals?” I asked.

He replied, “Well, the big ones definitely as close as I think I can get. I set the bar pretty high to start. All the rest are standard stuff. My wife wants a bigger house etc. But career wise I am there.”

On the surface, he was right. He should have had no problems. The evidence in the happiness column was lengthy. He started from DJing weddings and had grown his speaking biz from scratch.

He speaks annually now to groups numbering in the thousands, in several countries around the world. He had written a successful book. His income stream was more than steady. He had plenty of new clients and tons of repeat business. Even in the midst of a global pandemic he was able to pivot to virtual events without skipping a beat.

Yet here he was apathetic, bordering on unhappy. He was lamenting that he had arrived.

It is not unfamiliar territory for the doer. I think anyone who has achieved a goal or dream and has found themselves at one point or another facing the blank page and saying, “Well, what now?”

Our discussion had uncovered a passion gap that needed to be filled so that he could bring his best to everything he did.

After a long slog of productivity and creation our natural inclination is to take a break. To stop and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We expect there will be a feeling of “Yes! I made it!” Sometimes that comes, sometimes it doesn’t.

I am a huge believer in the action of debrief.

When we accomplish something we have to take stock of the experience or that feeling of accomplishment rarely arrives. In fact we should not just take stock at the end of a project, it is a practice to engage in daily.

Personally, I start my day by writing down my goals for the day and at the end of the day I take a look and see how well I did. I look over my notes for what I could do better tomorrow. I assess what were the hits, the misses and the wishes. I carry these thoughts into the next morning’s goals.

When I carry this attitude forward with me when wrapping a project, I can celebrate, and then I have a duty to bring my lessons forward into the next one. The point here is, there must be a “next one”.

All the doers I know try to keep a running list of things they want to accomplish. For each one they envision what a beginning, middle and end might look like. What is the story they are telling themselves? That way they know what at the minimum a possible ending looks like. 

Of course there sometimes are surprises. Which are actually wonderful and worth exploring. It is still important to guess what an end could look like so we don’t end up in apathy land.

And who knows, we might fail. We might not reach the goal. But at least we know what failure looks like. That way it can be avoided in the future. 

Sharing these thoughts, we decided to dig in. My friend and I spent some time debriefing his successes and missteps. 

We had some laughs, especially when he confessed to me that to save money in his early speaking career he slept in his car and pocketed the hotel fee he charged his clients.

We toasted (with coffee), his reaching financial goals and surpassing his benchmark number of presentations. 

I bought him a piece of pie to honor the triumph of achievement.

When we had fully celebrated his arrival at the end of that chapter, his demeanor held a lightness and his mood was much brighter. He was ready to discuss the looming, “What’s next?”

Personally, I find this debrief process similar to a wake or a funeral. We as doers grieve that the adventure has passed or sometimes we miss out on marking the occasion at all.

We have to celebrate it, say some kind words, reward ourselves, or find a way to signify completion. I think this must be done before we finally put it to rest. Only then can we imagine our lives or the possibility of something more without the project looming.

We talked about ideas that he had left off the map when he had created his goals. We talked about another book, we uncovered an audience he would like to put himself in front of and his desire to create an online course.

This can be an interesting process. He was not saying goodbye to the business he had achieved. He would still be doing the work he had spent years building, but now he had a flow with all that.

After an hour or so of heavy discussion he had regained his fire and was ready to write some new goals. 

Inspiration struck and I scratched a quick message on a napkin, ‘Celebrate endings and always have a new beginning waiting’.

I wished him well and I went back to my office to write this all down, and to take a look at my own goals list.

When was the last time you looked at yours?

Here is a little help:

The following videos of Zig Zigler talking about goals are fantastic. I also included a link to his goal sheet as well. – 

Zig Zigler Goal Setting 1 

Zig Zigler Goal Setting 2 

Zig Zigler Goal Setting 3 

Zig's Goal Sheet

In bocca al lupo, 



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