One of the most interesting conversations I have at home with my kids, and at work with my employees is what their goals are in life. What surprises me so much is how often my kids will state goals, and how infrequently I will hear strong goals out of people at work. I probably would have guessed it to be the other way around. Let’s be clear, just having a wish is not sufficient. A goal is a wish with action. The power of goals can’t be underestimated.
One of the easiest experiments that I’ve done with goals is setting Girl Scout Cookie Sales Goals. I ask each girl what her goal is at the beginning of the cookie season. Before we even started other modifications like writing it down on a publicly visible poster, the goals were powerful. I could ask girls each week how they were doing towards their goals. My own daughters like to keep a running count by the day, to know exactly where they stand with regards to their goals. They know what the goal is, and what number they are trying to beat. They may even revise the goal, but they always ensure that they meet it.
Let’s contrast that with some of my career. I’ve had a wish to become a manager for a long time. It wasn’t until I verbalized that goal, and told my manager what my goals were that it began to make any visible forward progress. I had a goal, and I had finally acknowledged it. I also started working towards it with purpose. That doesn’t mean that it was simply handed to me because I said that was what I wanted, but rather opportunities became available for me to take to lead in that direction.
I’ve experienced it with my kids, and in my own life. I try to encourage people I work with to have concrete goals and to work on them. But I also encourage them to be flexible in how they reach those goals.
So for you, how do you view goals? Do you use them? Do you set smaller goals or larger ones? How do you get where you want to go?