CAL Newsletter​​: How Can You Use Optimism to Achieve Your Goals?

How Can You Use Optimism to Achieve Your Goals?

I recently learned about “dynamic optimism” and “passive optimism.” Dynamic optimists act. They see their reality, they set a goal. They use a variety of steps to achieve their goal, using the growth mindset all along the way. They persevere.

Passive optimists don’t do those things. They hope for the best.

I have nothing against hope. However, hope—by itself—is not a useful strategy or tactic.

How can we move from passive to active optimism, where we act to achieve our goals?

Here’s how I think about this active optimism:

  • Define my big goal.
  • Create interim deliverables so I can get feedback on the way to that goal. (You might see this as “iterate my way to success.”)
  • Verify I still want that big goal. If so, keep looping. If not, I’m done.

I suspect you know all about big goals. Let me focus on iterating my way to success with interim deliverables.

Create Small Deliverables

While I love big audacious goals, I need small deliverables to achieve those goals. Otherwise, I get “lost” on the way to the big goal. Many of us have this same problem.

When possible, I start with weekly goals. For example, I have personal weekly goals for my writing and my workouts. I also have weekly goals with my coaching clients. Each of these goals looks a little different:

  • Writing goals include a specific weekly word count ​and ​a short story.
  • Workout goals include specific exercises and stretches. If I execute my program at least four days a week, I met my goal.
  • My coaching clients generate the activity they want to practice and then my client and I agree on how they might practice. The client often discovers a better idea as they proceed. The client then reports back the next week.

Because each goal is different, I need different measures to see how I’m doing. However, each of my goals requires practice.

Use Practice With Feedback

Because each of these deliverables requires practice, I can then create daily goals. I don’t do my entire workout every day—I wouldn’t give my muscles a chance to restore. However, I do want to write every day, because the more I write, the more practice I get. I become a better writer with more practice.

My coaching clients often discover that the more they practice, the better they become at that particular skill, too.

For my words, I can see my own feedback. I have a workout coach, where I show him my new skills every week. And my clients debrief with me.

My workout coach often asks probing questions, such as, “How did that particular action feel?” (That’s one of my questions for my coaching clients, too.)

And I reassess what I want on a regular basis.

Reassess the Goal

I continue to reassess my various goals. When I decided I wanted to write more fiction, I started to count all my words so I could see where I spent my writing time. Was I happy with my mix of writing? When I wasn’t, I changed my writing goals.

When I wanted to get stronger, I tracked my workouts more carefully. I modify my workout goals as I progress, to increase the goal.

Sometimes, my coaching clients realize they don’t want their initial goal. That’s because they can’t change enough about their overall environment. That’s fine. However, we often create a different goal the client can achieve.

That’s why we reassess. And that’s why I use dynamic (active) optimism.​

Dynamic Optimism Offers Action and Feedback

I can hope to be better at any number of things. However, my actions make all the difference for me. Hope, in the form of passive optimism, is not enough.

Active optimism helps me achieve my goals.​ I have to use all the steps to achieve what I want: a goal, short deliverables with feedback, and a periodic reassessment of my progress.

This newsletter’s question of the month is: How can you use optimism to achieve your goals?


You might enjoy some of my online workshops:

And, the big announcement: The Modern Management Made Easy books are done and out everywhere. Yay!

Read More of Create an Adaptable Life

If you only read the newsletter, I hope you also read the blog where I write a question of the week each week. Here are other links you might find useful:

Till next time, Johanna

© 2021 Johanna Rothman

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