It’s usually around this time of year that we recognize and thank the heroes in our lives. The sentimentality of the season seems to allow warmth to flow. CNN does their heroes’ recognition broadcast, stationed military personnel are shown well-deserved love and kids all over our country brings coffee mugs filled with chocolates to teachers who have loved them well.
As a young child, I found great solace in PBS. Sesame Street and The Electric Company would spark my imagination and my education, but Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood would captivate me. I listened to this calming man tell me that I could do more than I thought I could, that I could be a man of conviction and passion and that I could bring a light to the world (I’m having a hard time even typing these words without my eyes welling up…darn holiday season). He set goals for me without ever using those words.
He made it very simple. So, I submit to you: what do you want for next year? You’ve got to just sit down and think about what you want for next year. What do you want for you? For your team? For your department’s productivity? To bolster the whole organization? It’s just that easy to start.
Of course, business climate, competition, talent resources, etc. are some of the factors that can’t be ignored. However, if the approach is proactive, you can look to see how to leverage those factors in ways that will support where you want to go. To create goals, rather, from a reactive stance to the factors is not leading, but rather responding. Again, business factors should not be ignored, but think about how your wants can be fed by the manipulation of those influences.
Think, too, about the ranking of wants. It might be the most prudent business decision to lay aside one want in order for another to be achieved. Sacrifice plays a mighty hand in goal setting and accomplishment. It’s a difficult discipline to bypass low-lying fruit. Our instinctive nature will be to pluck it quickly and satisfy that want. Consider metaphorically that leaving the fruit on the tree could serve as a stepping off point to the next higher fruit on the tree. Our goals should be such that we keep our eyes on the ultimate prize rather than what we hit along the way.
Further, be prepared for distractions. There will be an onslaught of items vying for your time and attention. You’ve got fight them off if they don’t help push an agenda. BUT, be smart to take a moment to evaluate those distractions. Could they serve to show you that your goals are off or out of touch? Maybe the reason why certain distractions come up is because there is a systemic issue. Don’t avoid the reality that you don’t know everything; there may be circumstances at play that you had not factored into your goals. Recalibrate along the way.
And finally, sit in a quiet place to reflect and generate. Leave your office, your cubicle, the business grounds and go sit somewhere undisturbed to give these goals the attention they deserve. They set a tone for your behavior and your marching orders that affect so many. It’s okay to be attentive to them, free from interference. Your mind needs to be clear and focused in your assessment time. You might walk into that time with a few goals in mind, but you might walk out of that time with very different ones.
Mr. Rogers once said, “Little by little, we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we aren’t perfect.” It’s unlikely that we’ll just knee-jerk our way into developing healthy objectives for ourselves, our teams and our businesses. Our ability to be imperfect shouldn’t be something we mask, but something we proactively address. In goal setting, implementing a disciplined approach might help us to frame it well.
In light of the season…Thank you, Mr. Rogers.