In January and February, there is always a lot of talk about New Year’s resolutions and goal setting. I recommend a different plan…create a vision first before setting your goals. And make it a bold vision.
Allow me to offer a homey simile of vision and goals from my childhood. In my small town, summertime would find my friend’s mother hanging her clean sheets on a sturdy rope hung between two trees. Without this efficient system of drying– clothespins and a sturdy rope hung between those trees–the sheets would not dry as quickly. For those of you who are asking, “What about a dryer?” I ask, “Have you ever slept between line-dried sheets on a warm summer night?” If so, you’ll understand why the memory has special meaning.
This folksy reflection provides a modern-day analogy to vision-setting and goals. It is the rope (vision) that supports the sheets (goals). Without an over-arching vision, goals don’t necessarily hang together: The sturdy support must come first. To complete this image, those same sheets are folded and put away, and this step can be compared to the action steps that flow from those goals.
Here is a more contemporary business-related example. In 2004, I realized that without a better understanding of technology, my training and consulting business may not offer my clients the most value in the future. It would have been easy to jump into setting a new goal of reading articles or attending a conference on technology. Instead, I spent some time thinking about a long-term vision that would serve both the business and the clients. The vision: To help managers become leaders and employees become engaged. This broad vision informed my goal-setting process.
I considered that technology, when used properly, can facilitate better communication and engagement–both key ingredients to strong leadership. It then became clear that I must enhance my skills and education in technology. Therefore, one of my goals for 2004 became: “Enroll in a course of study where my technological skills and knowledge become more proficient.”
The action steps that flowed out of this goal were to: 1) do research to find the right program; 2) go through the application process; and 3) get accepted at my designated choice. These individual action steps resulted in my reaching the goal of a Master’s in Instructional Technology….an experience that made me more comfortable and skilled in cutting-edge technology with a network of tech-savvy colleagues to partner with on client’s projects. Reaching that goal fulfills the vision of helping managers become leaders and employees become engaged.
My suggestion is: Don’t short-change yourself by simply developing some new goals…be bolder!
After all, in the Bay Area we have a reputation to uphold…
“We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make “me too” products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream.” – Steve Jobs, 1983
Take the time to develop your vision. Goals without vision are only labor. A vision without goals is only a dream. But vision with goals will be ambition fulfilled. Inhale deeply the boundless opportunities of a New Year!