“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”
– Yogi Berra
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During the first weeks of each calendar year, I suggest to clients and friends that they devote thought to their best goals for (i) this new calendar year, (ii) their careers, and (iii) their life paths. Whether it is merely confirming current goals or resetting and rededicating to new goals, it is a healthy exercise, a thoughtful discipline, and it can be fun, too.
1. Resetting Goals leads to a Better Future. Other than what you’re now doing or pursuing, what else might you aspire to? Anything more purposeful, enjoyable, rewarding or interesting? What would you do if you weren’t limited in any way? This is a prime opportunity to think far outside of the limits of your “daily details box.” As exercise promotes health, reconsidering goals broadens horizons and builds discipline to reach those horizons.
2. “New Data enables Better Decisions.” Since you’ve last considered new or renewed goals, the world has surely changed, and so have you. You’ve had new experiences, new insights, and perhaps new lessons learned, each of which has deepened your desire to achieve unachieved goals or opened your imagination to new ones.
3. There’s no limit to the number of potential new goals, their variety, or how grand they may be. A new skill, valuable to employers, clients or colleagues, is surely within your reach. As is, of course, better health and new friends. So is achieving a certain level of income. Even a new career is a feasible new goal. One of my long-term Wall Street executive clients recently became a member of her ministry, and she says she is happier than ever before. There’s not an industry, profession or calling that has not undergone profound challenges, and those challenges represent opportunities for you.
4. Re-considering goals is, itself, a good habit to develop, just like regular exercise or healthy eating. Habits are our “defaults” in behavior – what we commonly do or don’t do over time, without much thought. Some are good for us; some are not. Whether or not you think you need a change in goals, it is always a good habit to give that thought a real once-over: you just might discover a new addition to your usual ways could yield what you want, what you need, and what would lead you to greater health, wealth and happiness.
5. If you are going to reach for the stars, you might as well reach for the “right” ones. Face it: in all likelihood, you’ll probably reset your goals no matter what, either mindfully or absent-mindedly. Whether you reset your goals intentionally or unintentionally, you will do so inevitably and naturally, as (a) your industry or profession evolves and you adapt to that evolution; (b) you have new experiences, positive and negative, (c) you climb another rung on your career ladder, (d) you age, (e) your family responsibilities grow and then recede, and (f) you face your probable “career glidepath.” It’s just part of life.
6. Can’t think of New Goals to pursue? You can find them in Your Limitations. Not very good at making presentations? There are both consultants and online courses for developing that skill and, thus, your perceived value to others. Don’t have a sizable book of business? Deepening and enlarging your own “B.O.B.” is a very common and easily measurable goal. And, of course, there’s the issue of your being several pounds overweight. Look to your limitations; they point directly to potential goals to consider.
7. Have you ever heard of “The Deming Cycle?” W. Edward Deming is considered to have been the Founding Father of “Total Quality Management,” perhaps the most famous thinker on the subject. He was famous for guiding the Toyota Corporation to its heights in automotive quality, and in doing so, near dominance of the automotive industry. His “Deming Cycle” was comprised of four steps – “Plan, Do, Check, Act” – and then starting all over again.
I view the “Deming Cycle” as essentially an application of continual goal-setting and goal-resetting, as a means to achieve any success desired. It seems quite likely his recognition of “Kaisen,” the Japanese concept of continuous improvement, based on the simple notion that small, ongoing, positive changes is the truest path to significant improvement in whatever it is you do.
8. My Own Goal–Setting Method? Every January I choose new goals in these five categories: (i) Health, (ii) Finances, (iii) Fun and Relaxing Activities, (iv) Business/Career Development, and (v) Organizing Myself. Once re-set, each Monday I review my list and assess my year-to-date progress toward each goal. Based on that assessment, I then select one or two activities to pursue that week to move myself closer to one or two of my goals.
Last year I actually reached three of my five goals, exceeded one of my goals, and got halfway to the remaining goal. I’m pleased with those achievements, and I know that, without the focus, consideration and dedication this method gives me, very little progress, if any, would have been achieved. And I like achievement.
P.S.: We offer Goal-Setting Assistance consisting of three meetings with Mr. Sklover by telephone or Zoom Call, for a single fixed fee of $1,495.00. If interested, just give us a call at 212.757.5000. Evening and weekend sessions are available.
In Summary . . .
Regularly setting and re-setting goals in your work, your career and in other aspects of your life can be invigorating, challenging, even fun. Even those who are used to “reaching for the stars” are well served by reaching for the “right” stars, and modifying or even giving up some of the others.
If you do not do so on a regular basis, or have let the habit of doing so go to the wayside, consider giving it a try. I believe the odds are you’ll be glad you did.
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Best, Al Sklover
SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid the likely bumps in the road. Setting goals and resetting goals is take control of your many efforts, and take greater advantage of the many different opportunities available to you.
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