Friday, February 17, 2012

Do You Need Goals? Really?

imageI don’t make a lot of goals. Make that - I don’t keep a lot of goals.  What I mean is I make what appear to be goals but they are not really goals.  It’s all very confusing.  Rather than set and keep goals, I choose a path that could be best described as “gravitating toward good things while keeping your options open” (GTGTWKYOO for short). It’s a comfortable way of life as long as your expectations are not real high. 

Setting a real goal means I have to make a real decision (because a goal is just a wish if you don’t make a decision).  Making decisions is my problem.  A decision says I am going for some end point at the EXCLUSION of all other endpoints.  Once one endpoint is chosen, a million alternate endpoints are cancelled. That’s why real decisions are hard.  I HATE to exclude alternate possibilities.  I would rather not make a decision.  Too much commitment, too much pressure, what if I FAIL?  Worse, what if I succeed and find out it was the wrong goal?  I would rather not fail than win. 


I can think of about three big goals I set out to accomplish in my life – One had to do getting a college degree, another was a happy family of my dream, and the last was a specific title I wanted to attain in corporate America.  I accomplished each, and most of my life sort of comes down to the results of those three goals.   But a lot of wishes (seemed like goals at the time)  in between never got much traction.  Had I only known the power of a real goal – I would have probably made a few more big ones for myself and my family. 

When businesses don’t have goals, it’s also bad.  Just more GTGTWKYOO.  You cant argue with “good things” - growth, innovation, market penetration, employee morale.   Maybe there are even numbers attached -- Posted on the wall outside the lunchroom, even.    What is really happening?  An operation without a rudder, a P&L that looks weak (or maybe good, depending on your needs).  People tend  do a “good” job, but never accomplish their potential.   In small companies busy owners struggle to stay afloat, while in big companies, committees set goals that are never really embraced in the heart.

Real goals with decisions, in business and in life, make things happen.  The world goes into motion to reach the goal.  Resources are assigned, laser focus is applied.  The world tilts on its axis.  They are insanely easy to set, but incredibly hard to commit. GTGTWKYOO is an easy commitment.

You know the simple rules about goals: 

  • Tangible and quantifiable.  Write them down.  One clear and compelling endpoint.  Flexibility is required as to how to get there but where you go is crystal clear.
  • Defined timeline for completion. Completion dates set planning in motion immediately.
  • Inspirational and exciting.  The business is stretching and growing, and employees feel the passion of being committed to a big cause. Management’s role is to inspire and remove roadblocks and get out of the way. 

Goals are always personal, and they are embraced in the heart, not the mind.  They are powerful, even dangerous, and always inspiring.  They are often accomplished ahead of schedule, and almost always see success if they are set up as win-win. 

Do you or your business need goals?  Really?

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