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Fulfilling Your 2018 Goals: Are You Living by Chance or Choice?

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University

At the beginning of the new year, I wrote a blog article challenging everyone to think about what they wanted to do in 2018 and to strive toward those 2018 goals. I shared how I assess what I need to do each year by reflecting on the past and I strategize what steps need to be taken to shape the future.

Well, it’s almost the end of the first quarter of 2018. What have you discovered about yourself? What types of moves have you initiated toward your 2018 goals? Did you get stuck or distracted? What will be your story on March 31 about what you have accomplished during the first quarter of the year? Are you prepared to go into the second quarter?

I had an unexpected life event happen during the first quarter, the sudden death of my husband. There was no way that I knew this was going to occur, so it was not factored into my “steps” during the beginning of the year. Since his death occurred in February, I had to shift my steps in the middle of the quarter.

There Are No Coincidences

I have always been a believer in divine destination. I do not believe in coincidences.

Instead, I believe there is a set appointment for every event that occurs in life. As you experience events, stuff happens. When scenarios arise, you have the choice how you want to proceed.

How Do You Stay on Course When Adversity and Distractions Arise?

It’s important to stay focused on the goal or the final destination. In my mind, my husband and I were on a journey. We had some wonderful years on that journey.

However, we came to a crossroad on February 8. As we approached the fork in the road, we branched off. My journey was moving toward Point B, whereas his journey started to veer to Point D.

Although we are now on different paths, we will meet up again in the end. I truly believe Deborah Garcia Gaitan’s poem, which ends:

This is not the end.
I’ll be waiting here for you
when we meet again.

Until that time, there are still things that I must accomplish. During this period, I found that some people near me were struggling with what their next step should be.

Despite my emotional upheaval, I found the strength to coach them through because that was the choice that I made. Last fall, I wrote a blog article on how to get over failure and the following words from that article came back to me:

Also, someone else in need could be waiting for you to “ride” again. Your breakthrough can be the catalyst for that person to take the next steps forward.

But if you remain frozen with fear and frustration, he or she may never have the opportunity to experience a dream. People need people to inspire them to cross the finish line.

Chance Versus Choice: Which Controls Your 2018 Goals?

A life lived of choice is a life of conscious action. A life lived of chance is a life of unconscious creation.” – Neale Donald Walsch

Life coach Linda Perry blogged about this topic. Some of the critical points that I took away from her article included:

  • Some people go through life moving point to point, not sure of how they got there. We should be aware of our surroundings and have a handle on how we get through life and how our behavior, actions, and decisions shape the course of our journey.
  • Many of us do not realize that we have a choice in selecting the path that we want to take. Taking a step is a choice. Some people will be frozen because they are afraid of the outcome. However, one needs to get past that feeling. Some decisions will be good and some will be bad. Right choices lead us to the next step, while bad decisions cause us to pause and use the opportunity as a learning moment.
  • Some individuals give too much power to fate and destiny when they should be cognizant of their daily role in making choices about their lives. While some things are destined to happen in our life, the outcome is shaped by the decisions we make getting there. For example, sometimes our choices allow us to arrive at a certain point earlier than expected, whereas other decisions may delay the process.
  • When we live unconsciously, we believe we are victims of chance and that we have no choice in making decisions that affect our journey. Don’t live a “clueless” life. Pay attention to your surroundings and what is going on around you. Is a theme emerging? Are there opportunities to make a change and achieve your 2018 goals? How will you determine “what’s next”?

I understand that the journey will be different than expected. However, I am still traveling down a path. It’s a path that requires some stops to assist, help and encourage others along the way.

But this is not the time to get stuck and wallow in anguish. Instead, my husband would want me to continue to live and make changes in the lives of people I encounter.

As I mentioned in my New Year’s blog article, I must not get distracted by life’s events. I still have a purpose and I still need to take steps. As we prepare to enter the second quarter of the year:

  • Reflect on what have been your successes and challenges during the first quarter of the year.
  • Reassess whether or not you are still positioned to be on target.
  • Identify potential paths (i.e., choices) that you may have the opportunity to travel.

If knocked down, don’t stay down for the count. Get up, dust yourself off and move on! Stay focused on those 2018 goals and be prepared for your next designated “leap” into the unknown. Believe that you are still on track to reaching your dreams.

Are you ready for the next step in achieving your 2018 goals? What is the second quarter of 2018 going to look like for you?

Start a management degree at American Public University.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at APU Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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