“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo


On the day that I closed my office for the Festive Season break, two things happened to me that stood out – I came across the word “premortem” for the first time in my life, which is a managerial strategy in which a project team imagines in advance that a project or organisation has failed, and then works backwards to determine what potentially could lead to the failure of the project or organisation. This might sound negative to you, but it’s a highly effective technique of “looking back from the future” in an attempt to generate solutions in advance for potential threats that might jeopardise the success of a project or an organisation. As an outspoken proponent of Self-leadership, that then made me think of how we could apply this concept on a personal level with a view of making 2022 our best year ever… 

The second thing that happened was Marilé sharing with me a quote from Zig Ziglar, which also made me think of how I should be approaching 2022 – “Most of the problems in life are because of two reasons, we act without thinking or we keep thinking without acting.” In a time where we typically find ourselves reflecting on the old year and about life in general, and where we start thinking about what the new year would look like and what we would like to achieve, both these “events” that I experienced, made me think about personal goalsetting.     

“You can have results or excuses… Not both” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Making excuses

In the volatile world that we live in, it is so easy to make an excuse for not achieving our full potential or for not making a success of our Self-leadership journey. The easiest excuse right now that might be standing between you and achieving the best possible version of yourself, could be Covid, which remains an excuse. Don’t get me wrong, I also had my fair share of “long Covid” and resulting myocarditis, but my point is that we will probably have another couple of Covid-like events in our lifetimes. We cannot allow this, or any other excuse for that matter, to pause our progress towards what we really want to achieve in life and also in 2022. Yes, we need to factor it into the process of goal setting and goal achievement, but we cannot allow our excuses to stop us from achieving greatness in this one life that we have been blessed with on Earth.

Selling ourselves short

One of my biggest fears is that I would one day look back and see a life that was wasted because I did not achieve what I wanted to. I believe this would be the epitome of “selling myself short”, which is something that you and I should be avoiding at all costs. If we have no dreams in any of the areas of our lives that we would like to chase hard and make a reality, then we only exist, and we don’t really live. Then we might end up with regrets at the end of our lives. Then you might also realise that you still had so much runway ahead of you that you never used to grow, to make a difference and to have spiced up your life with excitement.

“I have a dream… ” – Martin Luther King Jr

Setting and achieving through your 2022 goals

In the “Conquering my NeMEsis” self-leadership book that I recently published, I shared with you how to make personal goal setting simple. The first question that you might ask, also with a view of 2022 is: “Which goals should I set for myself?” Well, my simple answer is: “Those persisting dreams in each of the areas of your life”. This is why 80% of all New Year’s resolutions stop becoming a reality very soon into the new year – because people make promises to themselves, which they aren’t serious enough about. Obviously, a lack of discipline or a structured goal-setting process is also a contributing factor for not making a success of those resolutions.   

Converting your persisting dreams into goals, I believe is the first step towards, not only goal setting, but also successful goal achievement. The reality is that there is no sense in setting a goal, without achieving it. In fact, we should be going beyond this point of achieving our goals – we should be achieving through our goals. Otherwise, we can potentially be like those who succumbed on their way down from the top of Mount Everest to basecamp, because their goal was only to conquer the highest mountain top in the world and not to make it back to safety. This might seem like a bizarre example, but I hope it illustrates the point.      

It is also important that we document our goals for 2022, to demonstrate that we are serious enough about them. However, we cannot then allow the Personal Goals Scorecard, as I refer to it in my book, to gather dust. No! We need to use it as an active “live” document where we reflect on the progress of achieving our main personal goals, as well as our supporting goals to these main goals.

You might ask me: “But what if life happens?” Well, it’s simple – if you are serious about the main personal goals that you have typically translated from your persisting dreams of what you want to achieve in life, then you simply move your achievement dates and adjust your progress percentages, if needed. You never kill the dream by removing a main personal goal off your list though…

“If your plan isn’t working, change the plan, not the goal.” – Darren Hardy

It’s never too late to change your legacy

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis

Exactly a year ago I finished reading Finishing Strong by Steve Farrar, while I was in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19. This terrific book talks about the legacy that you and I want to leave behind one day, and about the importance of finishing strong in life. You might say to me: “But I am 80 years old…” My reply to you would be: “So what, you might live to the age of 90 or beyond, and what are you planning to achieve over the next decade to make sure that you finish strong and leave a lasting legacy?”

May you and I keep on “looking back from the future” and may we stop thinking or dreaming, without converting these thoughts and persisting dreams into goals that we try and achieve with everything that we’ve got. Not only to achieve them, but to achieve through them and, in doing so, make ourselves proud and leave a legacy that would last for generations. 

“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela 

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Prosperous 2022…


Written by:

Hekkie van der Westhuizen, PhD

“If you are interested in the topic of Self-Leadership, please buy my exciting new Self-Leadership book, which launched on 13 October 2021”

Author Dr. Hekkie van der Westhuizen shares practical self-leadership tips, tools and interventions in the form of stepping stones that will assist you along the journey to becoming the best possible version of yourself.


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