Q: Our company gives a generous leave the last two weeks of the year. During this time, I always find myself thinking about the year ahead...

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Q: Our company gives a generous leave the last two weeks of the year. During this time, I always find myself thinking about the year ahead.

I hate setting goals I know I’ll blow before New Year’s Day. Is there a better way to set goals I’ll keep?

A: Winter has always been a time for people to turn inward and evaluate their purpose in life.

In ancient times, the celebration of the winter season was called The

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Festival of Lights. Candles and fires were lighted to reassure people that the sun would return in the spring.

Similarly, think about setting goals that fire you up.

Unfortunately, many people set goals that other people would approve of. It’s hard to feel motivated to do what we think other people expect.

For instance, if you think your boss would be impressed by a clean desk, you may set a goal to keep a spotless office.

If you, however, don’t give a hoot about tidiness, nothing will change.

The most confusing part is, we often don’t realize what we really want. We try to be “good” employees, “successful” leaders and “productive” workers but don’t know our true hearts.

I’m surprised how often I find myself coaching brilliant, effective, mature professionals who are failing miserably to succeed at their stated goal.

When I ask what they want, they flatly repeat their goal. When I point out their lack of enthusiasm, they defend the “reasonableness” of their goal.

I end up pointing out that sometimes we confuse what we think we should want with what we do want, and one sign of this is getting nowhere on a goal.

After a certain amount of soul-searching, my clients light up and identify a new objective. Interestingly enough, they find this ambition easy to go after.

It’s been said that most people waste a lot of time doing the right things instead of doing things right.

Use your time at the end of the year to focus on what you passionately care about achieving between here and death. What better year to start that work then 2006?

The last word(s)

Q: My company may go under soon. Is it disloyal to start looking for work?

A: No. If the boat you’re on may sink, identifying life rafts gives you peace of mind. Worrying about drowning serves no one.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube