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20 Jun

A decent goal is good enough to begin with

Datum: 2017-06-20 19:39

What we refer to as goals are actu­al­ly a set of tools we can all ben­e­fit from using. Some might not call to these tools goals, but per­haps indi­ca­tors”, key fig­ures”, OKRs (Objec­tives and Key Results)”, mea­sure­ments”, and many oth­er things, instead. Regard­less what we name it, they are all refer­ring to the same thing — our way of mea­sur­ing progress.

A deci­sion with consequences
Set­ting goals is to make deci­sions — it is decid­ing what of all the things we could poten­tial­ly do that we will deem impor­tant, and decid­ing how we will know if we have been suc­cess­ful in doing what we intended.

The goals there­fore help us to:

  • deter­mine what tasks to do and what tasks not to focus on when we have too much to do

  • know when we have done enough and can enjoy the progress we have made

It’s dif­fi­cult to set a course in unknown terrain
But it is not always easy to deter­mine what the goals should be and what progress we should mea­sure — espe­cial­ly when we are doing things we have nev­er done before, when we are explor­ing new ter­ri­to­ries, or are cre­at­ing a busi­ness in a new field.

And, in addi­tion to the dif­fi­cul­ties of set­ting a pri­ma­ry course, the task of deter­min­ing what to mea­sure is made even more dif­fi­cult by the fact that it is nowa­days incred­i­bly easy to obtain data on a mul­ti­tude of para­me­ters since a con­sid­er­able por­tion of our jobs is done in dig­i­tal sys­tems of some kind. Con­sid­er­ing the large selec­tion of reports we have to choose from (and they all look so fan­cy and impor­tant), which para­me­ters should we mea­sure and which reports will pro­vide us with rel­e­vant information?

Some­thing is bet­ter than a bit of everything
When we are faced with this wide array of options and feel at a loss as to what para­me­ters and reports to choose, it might be easy to think that we will look into the mat­ter lat­er”, and wait a lit­tle before we make up our minds since we might be slight­ly wis­er in this regard lat­er on. How­ev­er, this is a mis­take, because with­out defin­ing some kind of goal, every­thing will appear impor­tant (hence mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to pri­or­i­tize and opt out of doing cer­tain tasks when we are swamped with work) and we will nev­er know when we have done enough (which keeps the ambi­tious per­son work­ing, nev­er tak­ing time to rel­ish the progress made).

Choose to focus on some­thing, even if you feel unsure that it is the per­fect choice. If you hap­pen to set the wrong goal, you will soon real­ize your mis­take and can then deter­mine a new goal that takes your new­ly gained expe­ri­ence into account. And even if you set the wrong goal, you will have got­ten the oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice apply­ing it to your every­day life and work — when you pri­or­i­tize and when you are explor­ing the new, unknown territory.

Do this
Some­time today;

  1. Take a good look at your goals. Are they right for you and the role you have with­in your com­pa­ny? Do they nar­row down the key fac­tors that are impor­tant to your work? Or, are they real­ly just num­bers you fol­low up on, enter into a spread­sheet and report sim­ply because you or some­one else decid­ed you would at some point?

  2. If you do not have any goals or do not have the right goals, deter­mine one or a few new ones that real­ly pin-point what you want to accom­plish in the next while ahead. If you are not allowed to get rid of the goals you cur­rent­ly have (and which you believe are inac­cu­rate), since some­one else has set them for you, let the new goals com­ple­ment the old ones.

  3. Be so spe­cif­ic when for­mu­lat­ing the goals that they actu­al­ly become use­ful in your work.

  4. Fol­low up on the new goals in the weeks ahead and draw con­clu­sions regard­ing how you are doing. As soon as you catch your­self fol­low­ing up on what­ev­er para­me­ter you chose just because and not real­ly use what you con­clude from the reports, take anoth­er good look at the goals and use the fact that you have prob­a­bly got­ten a lit­tle bit wis­er in these weeks when you refine them.

With a spring in your step
If you make sure to define goals, even if they are not per­fect, you will set your­self into motion and enable your­self to focus on accom­plish­ing them. You can regard it as a prac­tice round in going for some­thing whole­heart­ed­ly just to see how far you can go when hav­ing pur­pose and with­out hes­i­tat­ing before every step. You will gain expe­ri­ence and it will help you to pol­ish, refine or even rede­fine your goals fur­ther down the road.

How can you tell?
How do you deter­mine if a goal is right for you? And what indi­cates to you if it is not? Please share in a com­ment below.