Imagine goal-setting is a continuum. At one end is “Without a plan, we are going nowhere/ doing nothing/ doomed to failure!!!”, there is a Yoda-like “neither want or not want” calmness in the middle, and at the other end is “Goal-setting? No. Just…No”.
I’ve lived at the hand-waving ‘no goals equals doom!’ end for many years. I’ve been a fervent goal-setting evangelist, overly concerned for and confused by folk who don’t set goals.
In the past six months, however, I started experiencing some unexpected, baffling changes in perspective. A few weeks ago I read an article about not setting goals which both wrinkled my brain and smoothed my befuddled brow.
And now, I have a confession to make.
It’s possible I was wrong, and goal-setting isn’t the answer to everything.
I know; it shook me up too.
I took up yoga last year. I had a goal (of course) to reach a certain level of flexibility in a certain space of time, to manage my stress, and to ‘work hard’ – because you can’t achieve anything in life without hard work, right?
At about the six month mark I noticed I was caring less about reaching for a goal and more about the experience. As a result, my yoga practice was relaxing and fun. I’d actually achieved the aforementioned goals, but it didn’t feel like hard work.
I’d learnt to move with ease.
In the workplace, at school, in the home, there are outcomes expected, assignments due, deadlines to meet. We can’t avoid them. Nor can we avoid the fact that leadership in any of these spheres is sometimes hard work.
But our responses don’t have to be.
If we choose behaviours and actions which stretch and strengthen, the experiences of – and outcomes for – everyone involved can be positive.
I’ve set a goal to set less goals.
Which may defeat the purpose a little.