This spring, along with everyone else in the world, I’ve experienced many of my plans and dreams being cancelled, postponed, and upended.
It’s humbling to realize that the certainties and confidence I expressed in January could so easily evaporate due to circumstances far beyond what I could predict or control.
Early this year, I expressed to more than one person my commitment to finally reaching two big goals, one related to running, the other related to revenue in my company. Not only my commitment to achieving them, but my absolute expectation and confidence that 2020 would be the year I’d finally achieve — not one of these two big goals, but both.
I did it to have accountability and witness, but also to express my tenacity and resolve. See how hard I’m working to reach my goals?
I could picture myself crossing the finish line of my marathon and seeing the number on the clock indicating my finish time, under four hours.
I could picture the rooftop bar in which I’d gather with my local team, overlooking the Maumee River and Toledo’s lights, and taste the sweet bubbles of champagne as we toasted our hard work and success.
I envisioned not only the celebrations of my success, but also the satisfaction of work well done and milestones met.
Instead, I’m accepting that it’s not likely that I’ll reach either goal this year. Not because I don’t want to. Not because I’m not willing to put forth the effort — but because the opportunities and circumstances needed to achieve the goals are no longer part of my current reality.
All races are canceled. There is no finish line in my immediate future.
The current prospects for my business are challenging at best, as my clients’ businesses and investments in our services are jeopardized by the cessation of in-person training and events.
The coronavirus, and all its collateral damage, has erased a future that seemed so certain in my vision and imagination.
The story I want to tell about 2020 is not about the upending of my goals.
I always tell myself that focused, consistent effort will move me toward my goals. Yet this coronavirus pandemic has helped me realize that there are some circumstances that even focused, consistent effort can’t overcome.
Goals are good, and motivating, and useful, but they need to be malleable and fluid, so that we can shift and refocus to life’s surprises and emergencies. Goals matter some, but people matter more.
One of the most powerful moments for me as a business owner in 2019 (or ever) happened at our in-person gathering last September. We started the day in a circle, sharing our responses to an opening question posed by our facilitator. I’m not even sure what the exact question was, except that it elicited responses about people’s lives and the impact of working with our company. The words shared in those moments reinforced my entrepreneurial vision, which is to create opportunities for others, especially women, to have flexibility in their lives and to do meaningful work.
If, at the end of 2020, I’ve cared for people well, throughout the anxiety and chaos of this coronavirus challenge, I’ll know that my hard work achieved enough.
If we can keep going, despite the financial challenges we’re facing. If we can hold tight and live by our vision, purpose, and values. If we can serve our clients well. If we can emerge with renewed optimism and energy to continue the journey.
If we are still here, together.
It will be enough.
Because the people who inspire the goals are the heroes. The people are the story.
People supersede goals.